In a recent study of 100 high schools, adolescent athletes suffered sports-related ankle injuries more than any other injuries. The highest rate was experienced by boys' basketball, followed by girls' basketball, and the boys' football. The majority of the injuries diagnosed, over 83 percent, were ligament sprains, and injuries occurred more often during competition rather than practice.
Over 53 percent of high school students participate in organized sports, and with growing concerns regarding concussions and the developing brain, football participation is beginning to show a decline in some areas of the country. With sports like basketball and volleyball involving less physical contact and risk of a brain injury, one could surmise that participation in these sports will be on the rise as football slows.
Both basketball and volleyball as well as soccer, which is increasing in popularity, require the athlete to pivot and quickly change direction as well as jump and run in close proximity to other players. Add the heat of competition, and this creates ideal conditions for ankle injuries to occur. Here's how you can help your teenager prevent a serious injury and what to know if one occurs:
Encourage Them To Wear Lace-Up Braces
A study found that in adolescent athletes who wore lace-up ankle braces, the devices reduced the incidence of injury. They did not reduce the severity of the ankle injury, however. Many coaches and students alike are reluctant to wear the braces, but researchers believe this may be the mistaken notion that braces are heavy and cumbersome. Modern braces are lightweight and flexible.
Encourage Them To Participate In A Balance Training Program
Exercises such as yoga, Pilates, dance, and the use of balance boards and balls can improve balance. This leads to increased strength, flexibility, and endurance. A balance training program should be done three times weekly.
When An Ankle Sprain Happens
A podiatric sports medicine or foot and ankle specialist should be consulted to ensure there isn't a stress fracture or a break, especially if no weight can be put on it at all, the pain is severe, or the ankle looks deformed. If the physician determines it is a sprain, their first recommendation will be rest, ice, wrapping it to keep it compressed, and keeping the foot elevated. An over-the-counter pain reliever, such as ibuprofen, is usually recommended to help control both swelling and for pain management. A simple sprain will usually clear up within a week.
Contact a podiatric sports medicine clinic for more information and assistance.