Did you know there were over 1.3 million children who went to the ER for sports injuries in 2012? The most common complaints included injured heads, sprained ankles and torn knee ligaments.

Football athletes aged 19 and under are the most frequent visitors; this is followed by basketball, soccer and baseball athletes. The frequently injured body parts include the head, face, knees and fingers. Injuries range from broken bones and scrapes to concussions and bruises, but the most common of them all are sprains and strains.

David Marshall, MD, reiterated the importance of stretching, nutrition and supplements as a complementary aspect in overall physical fitness.

It starts with a good, all-around preseason physical, the medical director of Sports Medicine Program at Childrens Healthcare of Atlanta said. Not just the physical examination. Lets teach more about stretching and nutrition and supplements. Lets teach awareness. I usually dont get involved until somebody gets injured. But Id like to see us become more proactive at the front end.

Did you know football has the highest occurrence of concussions? At about 58,000 incidents, its more than soccer and basketball combined. Concussions commonly occur in athletes aged 12 to 15.

In a lot of concussions, a kid might feel dizzy and confused, but there are no outward signs, Dr. Marshall said. Thus, it important to check on one another for symptoms.

From time to time, you check on your buddy, he added. Did he take a good shot? Ask him if hes seeing stars. Is he feeling light-headed? Make him tell you if something hurts, or he doesnt feel right, and let somebody know.

Another common cause of sports-related musculoskeletal disorders are overuse injuries. Using the same set of muscles day in and day out and doing nothing else can lead to this problem.

Many kids want, or feel the need, to play the same sport year-round, to maintain that spot on the coveted travel team or elite team. So were seeing more injuries related to overuse, Dr. Marshall explained. If you do nothing but play tennis year-round, youre using the same muscles in the same fashion over and over. Same thing if youre a pitcher in baseball.

Dr. Marshall suggested to mix up the sports. Perhaps football in one season, basketball in the next and soccer thereafter. This way, there are no repetitive motions and more muscle groups are engaged and used in different ways, thus reducing the risk of overuse injuries.

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