Understanding the Most Common Sports Injuries in Children

I've gotten injured more times than I can count, and not just little injuries that go away in a day or two, but ones that takes weeks, sometimes months to heal (and one that I still haven't healed from 4.5 years later). Most of my injuries aren't from sports (though that one that still hasn't healed was from ice skating), but sports is a very common way to get injured. If you or your children play sports, here are some injuries you might want to try to avoid.

Participation in sports offers numerous benefits for children, including physical fitness, social interaction, and valuable lessons in teamwork and discipline. However, the increase in organized sports has led to a rise in sports-related injuries among children. It is crucial for parents, coaches, and healthcare providers to understand these injuries, their causes, prevention strategies, and treatments.

Common Sports Injuries

Sprains and Strains

Sprains, injuries to ligaments, commonly occur in children, with ankle sprains being the most prevalent. These often result from the foot twisting or rolling beyond its normal range of motion. Strains, which involve injuries to muscles or tendons, usually occur from overstretching or tearing. Hamstring strains are particularly common in sports requiring sudden bursts of speed or rapid changes in direction, such as soccer or basketball.


Children are susceptible to fractures, or broken bones, due to their still-developing skeletal systems. Fractures can result from direct blows, falls, or severe twists, with common sites including the wrist, forearm, and collarbone. Greenstick fractures, where the bone bends and cracks rather than breaking completely, are particularly common in children.

Growth Plate Injuries

Growth plates, areas of developing cartilage tissue near the ends of long bones, are weaker than the surrounding bone and are susceptible to injury. Growth plate injuries can result from acute trauma or chronic overuse, with common sites including the fingers, forearms, and lower legs.

Knee Injuries

Patellar tendonitis, often referred to as "jumper's knee," is an overuse injury affecting the tendon connecting the kneecap to the shinbone, common in sports involving frequent jumping and landing. Osgood-Schlatter disease is an inflammation below the knee where the tendon from the kneecap attaches to the shinbone, often seen in children experiencing growth spurts and participating in running or jumping sports.


Concussions, a type of traumatic brain injury caused by a blow to the head or body, are common in sports with higher risks of collisions such as football, soccer, and hockey. Symptoms include headaches, dizziness, confusion, and memory problems.

Shoulder Injuries

Shoulder dislocations occur when the upper arm bone pops out of the shoulder socket, often resulting from a fall or a blow to the shoulder in contact sports like football and wrestling. Little League shoulder is an overuse injury affecting the growth plate in the shoulder of young baseball pitchers, characterized by pain and tenderness.

Causes and Risk Factors

Several factors contribute to the risk of sports injuries in children. Lack of proper training and conditioning significantly increases the risk, as does overuse from participating in the same sport year-round without adequate rest. Inadequate warm-up and stretching before activities can lead to injuries, and improper equipment, such as ill-fitting gear, can also be a factor. Additionally, intense competition and pressure to perform can push children beyond their physical limits, increasing the risk of injury.

Prevention Strategies

Preventing sports injuries in children requires a combination of education, proper training, and creating a supportive environment. Education and awareness about the risks and signs of sports injuries are crucial for early intervention and treatment. Ensuring proper training and conditioning, including strengthening exercises, flexibility training, and correct techniques, can significantly reduce injury risk. Using appropriate equipment that fits well and is in good condition is vital. Encouraging regular rest and recovery, especially during growth spurts, and promoting participation in multiple sports rather than specializing in one can also help prevent overuse injuries.

Treatment and Rehabilitation

Prompt and appropriate treatment is essential for recovery and preventing further complications when injuries occur. Initial treatment often follows the R.I.C.E. protocol: Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation, which helps reduce swelling, relieve pain, and promote healing. Serious injuries or those not improving with initial treatment should be evaluated by a healthcare professional, with imaging tests like X-rays or MRIs potentially necessary. 

Rehabilitation programs tailored to the specific injury, including physical therapy, are crucial for restoring strength, flexibility, and range of motion. A gradual return to sports with close monitoring is advised to prevent re-injury. Seeking out legal support from a lawyer who specializes in personal injury may also be necessary. Providing psychological support and encouraging a positive mindset can also aid in the recovery process, keeping children engaged with their team in non-physical capacities to maintain social connections and motivation.

Understanding and addressing common sports injuries in children involves education, prevention, and proper treatment. By prioritizing safety and promoting a balanced approach to physical activity, parents, coaches, and healthcare providers can help ensure children enjoy the benefits of sports while minimizing injury risks. Encouraging a healthy, active lifestyle with an emphasis on injury prevention can pave the way for lifelong physical and mental well-being.

Penniless Parenting

Mommy, wife, writer, baker, chef, crafter, sewer, teacher, babysitter, cleaning lady, penny pincher, frugal gal

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