Injury Prevention for Back-to-School Sports

varsity soccer players

As fall is quickly approaching, most parents would agree that back-to-school preparation is in full swing. Along with lists of school supplies, buying new clothes and coordinating carpools, parents should consider if their child is ready to participate in a fall sport.? After a summer of relaxing, it is important to remember that healthy and safe sports participation requires a basic foundation of strength, power, flexibility, aerobic endurance and agility.? Your child should demonstrate good physical fitness and conditioning before he/she steps onto the field this fall.

Children are susceptible to overuse injuries that are most common during and after growth spurts and after longer periods of latency (such as summer months). An overuse injury occurs when there is damage to the bone, muscle, ligament or tendon secondary to repetitive stress. This injury will cause pain during or after an activity, which may or may not restrict the performance of the young athlete.

The best prevention is to have your child participate in a variety of different sports and activities, giving them the opportunity to cross train to avoid constant stress to specific muscle groups and ligaments.? Participation in a school sport in addition to multiple traveling teams at the same time may lead to overtraining and a higher risk for injury.? It is important for children to include strengthening, stretching and plyometric training to develop a good foundation for sport-specific skills.? In general, stretching of the hamstrings and calves, and core strengthening of the abdominals, gluteals and scapular muscles are key exercises to include in conditioning programs.

Adequate rest periods, proper hydration and nutrition are also imperative for muscle healing, recuperation and overall performance.? You should encourage your child to drink water before, during and after sports participation in order to prevent dehydration.? Some signs and symptoms of dehydration include:?diminished activity, sleepiness, thirst, decreased urine output, dry skin, headache, constipation, and/or dizziness.? It is also important for your young athlete to maintain a well-balanced diet.? The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends the following breakdown of total calories for a young athlete in training: 55-75% carbohydrates, 15-20% protein and 25-30% fats.

Kristin Flynn is a doctor of physical therapy at the CA Technologies Rehabilitation Center within Hospital for Special Surgery?s Lerner Children?s Pavilion.

Topics: Performance
The information provided in this blog by HSS and our affiliated physicians is for general informational and educational purposes, and should not be considered medical advice for any individual problem you may have. This information is not a substitute for the professional judgment of a qualified health care provider who is familiar with the unique facts about your condition and medical history. You should always consult your health care provider prior to starting any new treatment, or terminating or changing any ongoing treatment. Every post on this blog is the opinion of the author and may not reflect the official position of HSS. Please contact us if we can be helpful in answering any questions or to arrange for a visit or consult.


  1. I am glad that most athletic school programs have recognized the serious dangers of dehydration to athletes and now allow more water breaks. I remember when I played football in the Texas heat about 25 or more years ago that our coaches would keep pushing us with no water breaks to “toughen” of us. I am glad to see that most coaches have amended this coaching strategy for the safety of young athletes.

    1. HI Sheadyn, thanks for sharing! We””re glad that you found our post to be helpful.

  2. I recently blogged about one type of sports injury that can have devastating effects–cervical spine injuries. Concussions have been getting most of the national attention, but injuries to the cervical spine can be just as devastating, and can happen in an instant. Some advocacy groups are starting to make a push to get more qualified trainers to be employed by schools, but there is still a considerable death of awareness. Any little bit will help.

  3. Involving your kids to sports and other activities will help reduce obesity and physical fitness. It is equally beneficial in improving their social skills as well.

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