R.I.C.E. Ordered Daily for Youth Sports
The fall season is synonymous with; apples, pumpkin pie, candy corn and cider. As a Podiatrist the fall season reminds me of not only food but shiny helmets, new cleats, the excitement of wearing an athletic jersey and R.I.C.E. A pneumonic most associated with athletic injuries – R.I.C.E = Rest – Ice – Compression – Elevation. Though I am going to add another letter "R" for Rehabilitation of an injury. Being an athlete myself I am no stranger to training, practicing and injuries. Playing basketball and volleyball for many years I have dubbed myself the "Queen of Ankle Sprains."
Coaches spend hours reviewing game tapes, organizing warm-up drills and conditioning their players; however no matter how prepared an athlete or team may be, similar to the pros, not all sports injuries can be prevented. Some injuries are the result of poor shoe gear, game conditions, uneven playing fields, some are just accidents and some may be due to poor biomechanics or structure of the foot/lower leg. The three most common athletic injuries in my opinion are: sprains/strains, stress fractures and turf toe.
Ankle sprains occur when the foot strikes the ground at an uneven angle is kicked or stepped on by another player or the result of a fall from the loss of balance or stepping on a rock. Cross-country runners, due to the terrain they traverse, most often see on the football or soccer field and this type of injury. The athlete may experience pain, swelling and bruising which not only inhibits play but also can limit walking. Most athletes will write off the injury as to "just an ankle sprain" but it can and often is much worse. Just ask my partner who went out for his daily run a few years ago and stepped on a rock hiding in the grass, and low and behold twisted his ankle. My partner continued running daily at his normal pace and distance. After one week of continued and worsening pain, my partner radiographed his ankle and found a fracture. We recommend a medical evaluation to rule out a more serious injury. A sprain/strain or overstretching of the ligaments or tendons respectively surrounding the ankle joint can be quite debilitating and even result in a pulling off of a piece of the bone which it attaches to. A rupture, be it partial or complete may result in a delay of return to play. A fracture, stress or otherwise will delay that return even longer if not addressed early.
A stress or incomplete fracture sometimes occurs as a result of wearing worn shoe gear or a sudden increase in athletic activity. This type of injury is most often seen on the volleyball court or cross-country course. A diagnosis via x-ray can often be delayed for a few weeks. Fractures heal best when the bone fragments are kept close together and not able to move; continued activity could worsen this injury and the symptoms experienced by the athlete and put off return to play indefinitely.
An injury popularized by professional athletes, Turf Toe, can also plague children of all ages and abilities. This is basically a hyperextension of the large toe due to the bending of the toe up or down quickly and usually further than it typically bends. This injury is a combination of a sprain with a possible fracture. This type of injury is most often seen on the football field or track. Bruising, swelling and even toenail damage are common.
The treatment regimen that gives the athlete the best chance to get back in the game is protected/limited weight bearing, refraining from working the injured area and R.I.C.E.R. Shoe gear modifications, bracing and taping are additional options as the athlete ages.
Youth sports programs provide limitless opportunities for your child to learn how to walk, sprint and run to adulthood.