What can we do to support our kids in managing foot and leg injuries?
There are a number of really helpful things kids can be supported in doing to make injury prevention and management more successful including the following:
- Avoid sudden activity level changes by keeping active over the off season and maintaining a baseline level of activity.
- Modify the volume of activity. Prioritize which commitment is most important to your child and cut back on others
- Modify the intensity of training by discussing a modified program with the coach or trainers. Find alternative activities that maintain fitness without aggravating injury
- Maintain a regular stretching program throughout the year to limit the impact of growth spurts that contribute to growing pains and injury.
- Swap positions with another player to one with less running if it aggravates an injury. Defence and attack positions usually involve less running than center positions.
- Take breaks during games by rotating with spare players on the bench.
- Wear the best shoes for the job. Properly fitted activity-specific shoes that suit individual foot needs are key (eg wide/narrow, soft/firm etc).
- Replace shoes each year if you can afford to. Shoes that have been outgrown or have significant wear patterns, loss of shape or material degradation can contribute to injury.
- Arch supports are a very effective tool for growing active feet and legs. By redistributing load and force they help reduce further damage to injured, overloaded or predisposed structures.
- Keeping support up to the feet during off peak times can also help. Spending 6 weeks flapping about in thongs or going barefoot over the summer break can make it much harder to return to sport at school in peak physical condition.
Many of these things cost nothing to implement, are common sense, and can collectively make a really big difference. This information is normally inaccessible without consulting a sports scientist in conjunction with a registered health professional, usually reserved for elite athletes. For the general population, it tends to fall outside the scope of standard treatment plans.
If active kids in your life could benefit from knowing more about foot health and how to prevent and manage foot and leg injuries, please share this information. Together we can get this information to where it's needed most and make a difference.
Stay tuned for part 5 of Foot & Leg Injuries in Kids - Take Away Message