Although this post is sponsored, all opinions 100% my own. In the U. S., more than 38 million children play some kind of organized sport each year. That’s great except for one thing: kids’ bones, muscles, tendons, and ligaments are still growing, which makes them more susceptible to injury. Actually it goes beyond “susceptible”: A third of children who play a team sport are injured seriously enough to miss practice or games. Ankle sprains and breaks are among the most common sports injuries for both children and adults.
So what can you do? Kids should have at least one or two days off from any particular sport each week to avoid overuse injuries. And on “on” days, a good stretching session can loosen up those muscles and help prevent muscle tears or sprains.
It’s also important to makes sure your kids—and you, too—are wearing the right shoes for the right activity. For example, tennis shoes (the ones made specifically for tennis) will provide different support and traction than shoes designed for runners. And cleats for baseball are different than the ones for soccer or football.
The best way to ensure that you’re getting the right footwear is to go to a store that specializes in athletic shoes, or call the office of a local podiatrist for suggestions. Be sure to have your feet measured every time you purchase new shoes, as feet size and shape can change (especially in kids) as we age.
Don’t underestimate how important it is to take good care of your feet. A 2014 survey by the American Podiatric Medical Association showed that a quarter of adults were unable to exercise due to foot pain. And nearly 40 percent said they’d exercise more if their feet didn’t hurt.
If you or your child experience a foot or ankle injury while playing sports, getting it treated right away is key to preventing further damage. Putting off treatment for too long can cause toe deformities and other podiatric problems. And don’t be fooled by the old adage that if you can move your foot, it’s not broken. The truth is that it’s entirely possible to walk with certain kinds of fractures.
To highlight the importance of taking care of your feet, the American Podiatric Medicine Association has launched their Play it Safe campaign. Visit their site for tons of great foot-related info.