What are sporting injuries in adolescents?  

Adolescent children take part in many recreational and sporting activities that have great health benefits. However, there is a risk of injury that can limit their participation and may affect long-term musculoskeletal health as they grow.

What are common sporting injuries in adolescents?
There are two types of sports injuries: traumatic and overuse—or acute and chronic. An injury that occurs suddenly, such as a sprained ankle caused by an awkward landing, is known as an acute injury. Up to 60 per cent of all sporting injuries in adolescents affect the ankle.

Chronic injuries are caused by repeated overuse of muscle groups or joints and include cramps, tears and strains. With increased exposure to sport in the adolescence period, there is higher risk of overusing the muscles, tendons and bones.

In adolescent children with a joint injury (sprain), the growth plate of the joint may be injured. The growth plate is the area where the bone grows throughout childhood until the skeleton is mature.

Commonly, the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) inside the knee can be injured in cutting, landing and twisting sport activity. In contact and dodging sports, there is a reported increase in the amount of these injuries, particularly in girls (up to eight times that in boys).

How can flow physiotherapy help with sporting injuries in adolescents?
Risk of injury increases during periods of rapid growth as muscle flexibility can reduce, physical load can increase and joint range can reduce. Balance and coordination can also change as the body adapts to its ‘new size’.

Recent reports highlight the importance of neuromuscular coordination,
which is required to help landing and jumping skills, ultimately reducing the chance of injury.

We can assess, diagnose and manage sports injuries. We are trained in planning and teaching exercises that address musculoskeletal strength and flexibility factors that predispose people to injury.

By identifying deficiency in strength and flexibility, we will prescribe exercises to address these issues. We can also talk with your coach and sports medicine team (dietitian, strength and condition coach or psychologist) to plan for a return to sport and prevent further injury.
Some children are very keen to keep playing sport. We can modify training load and advise on appropriate levels in the early phases post injury.

Occasionally, an injury requires rest from activity for a period of time. We will prescribe appropriate levels of safe activity to maintain physical fitness
to prepare for a return to sport.

How effective is physiotherapy for sporting injuries in adolescents?
Sports physiotherapists are experts in growth and development and understand the skills associated with sport. They are effective in managing sports injuries and addressing factors to improve sporting performance, such as flexibility, strength and control. They are able to identify serious injuries such as fractures and provide a tailored training program to prevent reoccurrence.

Sports physiotherapists are leaders in new research on the assessment, management and contributing factors of sporting injury in adolescent children. Apophysitis (pain at the apophysis) is common in active children and understanding the process that results in this during adolescence has
recently changed. The apophysis is a growing plate area where the tendon attaches to the bone. When overloaded, painful symptoms from a range of tendons, bursa and bone can prevent activity.

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