Now that the kids are back in school and fall sports seasons are in full swing, a huge percentage of New Jersey’s youth are dedicating themselves to athletic pursuits. Whether your child is a student athlete in middle or high school, playing for a travel team, or just likes to run or play a casual game of hoops with friends, sports is a great way to stay healthy and develop good personal habits. Far too often, unfortunately, sports are also a great way to injure a foot or ankle.
If you want your little one to get through the season in one piece, help make sure their feet are as protected as possible from sports injuries and ask yourself these questions:
- Do their shoes fit? Kids’ feet grow fast—sometimes fast enough that a shoe that fits at the start of the season might not at the end! Tight shoes can cause all sorts of problems, so make sure the size is right.
- Are the shoes new? This rule can be frustrating for families with a lot of kids of one gender close in age. Sorry! We strongly advise against parents giving used or hand-me-down shoes to their kids. These should have already been “molded” to fit one pair of feet and can cause problems when used by another.
- Are the shoes right for the sport? Different sports require different motions and actions for feet to perform, and present different kinds of risks. Young athletes should be equipped with sport-specific shoes, which provide precisely the performance and protection needed for their chosen activity.
- Are they ready for competition? For athletes of all ages—adults especially, but kids too—it’s important not to rush too quickly from a sedentary lifestyle to aggressive competition. Ideally, they can start slowly and gradually increase the intensity week to week, giving bodies time to adjust to new stresses.
- Are they playing multiple sports? Kids who participate in multiple different athletic disciplines tend to be more resilient against injury than those who play the same sport year-round. It might be the case that one type of activity is their passion, but encourage them to cross-train in other types of activities, especially those that go a little easier on feet. Swimming or bike riding are great options here!
- Are they listening to their bodies? If you’re in pain, it’s because your body is trying to tell you something! Pushing stubbornly through an injury is a surefire way to turn a small injury into a big one, so if you see your little one limping or in clear discomfort, make sure they get off the field.
Hopefully, your youth athlete will power through the fall sports season—and beyond!—without any serious foot challenges. If they do suffer an injury, however, make sure they get in to see the Associates in Podiatry. We’ll help make sure they can get back on the field as quickly as possible with a clean bill of health. Call us at (609) 924-8333 to schedule an appointment in Princeton, or (908) 687-5757 for Roselle Park.