Search this site
Article Listings
Active Living
Full Listing with story descriptions
A Healthy Balance
Ankle Sprains
Active Kids, Healthy Kids
Active Kids in Winter
Athletic Skin Infections
Children, Nutrition and Exercise
Beat the Heat!
Cold Comfort
Cold Weather Workouts
Concussion in Sport
Core Stability
Cross Country Skiing
Exercise and Disabilities
Exercise and Menstrual Irregularities
Exercise in the Heat
Exercise is Medicine
Exercise Options
Exercising in Pregnancy
Exercising in Pregnancy
Female Athletes
FITT Prescription
Footwear for Running
From Surviving to Thriving
Gadgets and Gizmos
Get Moving!
Get Motivated
Golf Exercises
Golf Injury Prevention
Head Injuries
High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)
Hockey Injuries
Home Gyms
Jump Start Weight Loss
Knee Cap Pain
Knee Ligament Injuries
Live Actively
Low Back Pain
Osteoporosis and Exercise
Osteoarthritis of the Knee
Plantar Fasciitis
Prehistoric Workout
Recreational Safety Equipment
Safe Snow Shovelling
Shin Splints
Ski Conditioning
Sore Elbow
Sore Shoulder
Spinal Cord Injuries
Staying Active
Staying Fit in the Cold
Sports Nutrition and Supplements
Strength Training
Swimming Injuries
Teen Sports Injuries
Water and Exercise
Weight Training
7 Wonders of Walking
Adolescent Health
Full Listing with story descriptions
Adolescent Behaviour Problems
Adolescent Growth and Development
Body Image
Body Piercing
Chronic Diseases in Teens
Communications Skills
Concussion in Sport
Cosmetics and Skincare
Dangers of Artificial Tanning
Depression - Causes
Drug Use
Female Physical Exam
First Period
Internet Safety
Junior High
Mentoring to Quit Smoking
Parent-Teen Communication
Parent -Teen Interaction Patterns
Personal Care
Psychological Assessment
School Problems
Self Esteem
Self Esteem and Body Image
Sexually Transmitted Diseases
Talking About Sex
Taking Chances
Teaching Respect
Teens and Smoking
Teenage Blues
Teen Bedwetting
Teen Drivers
Teen Girls
Teen Health
Teen Immunization
Teen Independence
Teen Rebellion
Teens and Divorce
Teenagers and Sexual Issues
Teens and Exercise
Water and Exercise
A Woman's Physical
Your First Job
Youth Violence
Ask the Doctor
Aspirin Every Day?
Cost of Doctor's Visit
Does My Sore Knee Require an MRI?
Do I Need a Bone Density Test?
Do I Need an Annual Physical?
My Doctor Says I Need a Test
My Doctor Diagnosed Osteoarthritis
Restore Your Core
Should I Exercise During pregnancy?
Vaccination Controversies
Full Listing with story descriptions
Advice from the Maternity Clinic
Advice from the Maternity Clinic (Part 2)
Alcohol in Pregnancy
Building a Better Baby
Birthing Etiquette
Birth Plans
Birthing Procedure Trends
Bleeding in Pregnancy
Blood Pressure
Breastfeeding Benefits
Caesarean Section by Request
Care for the New Mother
Cord Blood Banking
Delaying Motherhood
Blue after Baby or Postpartum Depression
Diabetes in Pregnancy
Eating Well for Pregnancy
Evolving Ideas about Pregnancy and Birth
Exercise in Pregnancy
Is it Safe to Exercise During Pregnancy
Fetal Alcohol
Flying During Pregnancy
Folic Acid in Pregnancy
High Blood Pressure in Pregnancy
Getting a latch on breastfeeding
Group B Streptococcus
Induction of Labour
Infections During Pregnancy
Intrauterine Growth Restriction (IUGR)
In-Vitro Fertilization
Low Birth Weight Babies
Maternity and parental leave
Medication and Pregnancy
Managing Your Own Labour
Monitoring Your Labour
Nausea and Vomiting in Pregnancy
Pain Relief in Labour
Prenatal Classes
Preterm Labour
Planning a Pregnancy
Prenatal Care Providers
Postpartum Repetitive Strain Injuries
RH Disease
Rupture of Membranes Before Labour
Sex During Pregnancy
Skin Changes in Pregnancy
Smoking and Pregnancy
Support During Labour
Travelling While Pregnant
Ultrasound for Fun and Photos
Natural Remedies in Pregnancy
Pregnancy Weight Gain
Vaccinations During Pregnancy
Vacuum and Forceps for Delivery
Vaginal Birth After Caesarean
When Baby Comes Home
Full Listing with story descriptions
Asthma in Children
Attention Deficit Disorder
Bedtime Battles
Bed Wetting
Childcare Options
Children's Headaches
Childhood Obesity
Choosing A Babysitter
Colds and Flu
Common Childhood Skin Infections
Developmental Milestones
Diaper Rash
Daytime Wetting
Developmental Co-ordination Disorder
Feeding Your Baby
Feeding Your Toddler
Head Lice
How Children Grow
Hearing Loss
Hearing Issues in Newborns
Heart Murmers
Hip Clicks
Is it an Emergency?
Children and Sports Injuries
Lazy Eye (Amblyopia)
Learning Disabilities
Leg Problems
Preparing for Lab Tests
Red Rashes
RSV-Childhood Respiratory Virus
Safe Summer Fun
Sick Toddler
Sleep Struggles
Sniffles, Fevers, Rashes and Coughs
Introducing Solid Foods
Sore Throats
Speech Problems
Strep Throat
Toddler Safety
Tooth Injuries
Travelling with Children
Urinary Tract Infections
Vaccination and Autism
When to go to the Doctor
Whooping Cough
Worried Sick
Yeast Infections in Children
Chronic Pain
Full Listing with story descriptions
Managing Your Pain
Movement Matters
Moving Forward
Pain Medications
Returning to Work
Understanding and Goal Setting
When Pain Doesn't End
Dental Health
Full Listing with story descriptions
Antibiotics and Dental Surgery
Baby Bottle Tooth Decay
Baby Teeth
Bad Breath (Halitosis)
Children's Dental Injuries
Choosing a Dentist
Cosmetic Dentistry
Mouth Guards
Dental Exam
Dental Care Devices
Dental Caries
Dental Implants
Dental X-Rays
Dentures and Healthy Jaw
Esthetic Dentistry
Fluoride Findings
First Dental Visit
A Healthy Mouth
Healthy Mouth, Healthy Body
Jaw Joint and Muscle Problems
Keeping it Clean
Laser Use in Dentistry
Oral Cancer Screening
Oral health and long term care
Oral Health Care Products
Orthodontist First Visit
Painless Dentistry
Periodontal Disease
Removable Dentures
Root Canal
Seniors Oral Care
Sensitive Teeth
Sore Mouth, Aching Jaw
Snoring and Sleep Apnea
Teeth for Life
Temporomandibular Disorders (TMD)
Tobacco Risks to Oral Health
Tongue Piercing
Tooth Whitening
Travel Dentistry
Water Fluoridation
Wisdom Teeth
Your Healthy Smile
Full Listing with story descriptions
10,000 Steps
A1C Test
A Diabetes Success Story
ABCs of Diabetes Management
Alternate Site Testing
Artery Health
ASA Therapy
Benefits of Insulin
Benefits of Breakfast
Blood Glucose Medications
Blood Glucose Myths
Blood Glucose Testing
Blood Sugar Lows
Blood Glucose Monitors
C-Peptide Testing
Canada Food Guide Revisited
Carbohydrate Counting
Catastrophic Drug Plan
CDA Guidelines for Diabetes
Celiac Disease and Diabetes
Celebrating Health
Childhood Diagnosis of Diabetes
Children and Type 2 Diabetes
Cholesterol-lowering Medications
Colds and Diabetes
Continuous Blood Glucose Monitoring
Cutting Edge
Dangers of Uncontrolled High Blood Pressure
Driving and Diabetes
Diabetes and Menopause
Diabetes Care Team
Diabetes and Depression
Diabetes Distress
Diabetes Eating on a Shoestring Budget
Diabetes Etiquette
Diabetes and Oral Health
Diabetes and Thyroid Disease
Diabetes and Your Mouth
Diabetes and Your Eyes
Diabetes in Cats
Diabetes in Dogs
Diabetes Management ABCs
Diabetes Meter Technicians
Diabetes Myths
Diabetic Ketoacidosis
Diabetic Retinopathy
Diet Tips for South Asians
Dining Out with Diabetes
Drinking and Diabetes
Eating Disorders
Easing the Strain of Stress
Eating Mindfully
Eating to Protect Your Kidneys
Eating Well During Shift Work
Eggs in a Diabetic Diet
Emotional Eating
Emotions of Diabetes Diagnosis
Erectile Dysfunction
Exercise Excuses
Why Fad Diets Fail
Fill Your Day with Energy
Diabetic Retinopathy
Food Temptation
Foot Care
Foot Health
Footwear and Foot Health
Fruits and Veggies
Gestational Diabetes
Get Active
Get Physical
Gift Ideas
Glucose Meters
Glycemic Index and Glycemic Loads
The Glycemic Index
Going Green in the Kitchen
Going Home from the Hospital
Grocery Shopping Tips
Holiday Party Survival Guide
Health Information on the 'Net
Healthy Happy Holidays
Healthy Beverage Choices
Health Benefits of Soy
Healthy Restaurant Meals
High Blood Pressure and Diabetes
High Blood Pressure
HbA1c Test
Healthy Eating for Active People
High Blood Lipids
Home from the Hospital
Home Alone and Sick
Hypoglycemic Unawareness
Impaired Glucose Tolerance
Immunization and Diabetes
Incretins-a Hormone Treatment
Injecting Insulin
Insulin Discovery-The Story
Insulin Handling
Insulin - the Key to Energy Management
Insulin Pumps
Insulin Pen Needles
Insulin Pump Infusion Sets
Insulin Pump Therapy
Immunization and Diabetes
Internet Health Sites
Islet Cell Transplantation
Kidney Disease - Reducing the Risk
Living Powerfully with Diabetes
Low Blood Glucose
Managing Diabetes
Managing Blood Glucose
Mental Health and Diabetes
Nutrition Food Labels
Meal Planning
Your Medication Expert
Medication Research Studies
Metabolic Syndrome
New Diabetes Technologies
Natural Medicines and Diabetes
No Need for Insulin?
Not Snoozing
Oral Health and Diabetes
Osteoporosis and Diabetes
Diabetes and OTC Medications
Pedicure Precautions
Pain of Walking - Peripheral Arterial Disease
Pet Diabetes
Planning for Pregnancy
Prebiotics and Probiotics
Preparing for Activity
Putting off Insulin
Reducing Stress of Surgery
Safe and Successful Travel
Schizophrenia and Diabetes
Setting Health Goals
Setting Goals for Physical Activity
Sharps Disposal
Shorter Insulin Needles
Sleep - a Missing Link
Smart Snacking
Smart Summer Nutrition
Snack Bars
Snacking with Diabetes
Social Media and Diabetes
Stress and Diabetes
Success in School
Supporting Spouse with Diabetes
Sugar, Carbs and Blood Glucose Control
Think Positive with Diabetes
Tiny Bites Equal Big Calories
Travelling with Diabetes
Tips for a Better You
Tobacco Use and Diabetes
Top 10 Reasons to Exercise
Treating Low Blood Glucose
Treating Hypoglycemia - Role of Glucagon
Tune up Your Diet
Type 1.5 Diabetes
Type 2 Diabetes
Understanding Diabetes
Understanding Diabetes Medications
Urinary Incontinence
Vacationing with Diabetes
Vegetarian Eating for Diabetes
Vitamin D
Wonderful Water
World Diabetes Day
Working Toward a Cure
Your Medicine Cupboard
Zimbabwe Hand Jive
Family Medicine
Full Listing with story descriptions
ADHD in Children
Allergic Rhinitis
Antibiotic Use
Aspirin Every Day?
Back Pain
Back Pain Myths
Back Pain - Lower
Birth Control
Bladder Problems
Blood Transfusions
Breaast and Prostate Cancer Screening
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Colon Cancer Screening
Contact Lenses
Diabetes Management
Diagnostic Tests
Doctor Visit
Driving Vision
Dealing with Dry Eyes
Electronic Medical Records
Eye Exam
Family Doctor
Floaters and Flashes
Food Poisoning
5 Ways to Stay Healthy
Get Active!
Healthcare Teams
Heart Health
Hepatitis C
Human Papilloma Virus
High Blood Pressure
How to Talk to Your Doctor
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Joint Replacement Surgery
Kidney Disease
Lazy Eye Blindness (Amblyopia)
Medical Digital Technology
Multiple Sclerosis
Multiple Myeloma
Opioid Myths
Primary Healthcare Reform
Prostate Problems
Quitting Smoking
Red Eyes
Respiratory Tract Infections
Screening Tests
Special Diagnostic Tests
Sports Eye Injuries
Stopping Stroke
Urine Tests
Win by Losing
Urinary Incontinence
Urinary Tract Infections
Vision Flickers
First Aid
Full Listing with story descriptions
Bites and Stings
Cuts and Scrapes
Emergency Care Guidelines
Eye Injuries
Fainting and Convulsions
First Aid Travel Kit
Hypothermia and Frostbite
Poisoning - Household
Growing Older
Full Listing with story descriptions
Advance Care Plans
Age-Related Macular Degeneration
Alzheimer Disease
Avoiding Memory Loss
Building Strength
Caring for the Caregiver
Can I see Well Enough to Drive?
Congestive Heart Failure
Coping with Dementia
Controlling Medications
Diagnosing Dementia
Dementia and Agitation
Dizziness (Vertigo)
Eating Well
Elder Abuse
Exercise Benefits
Erectile Dysfunction
Eye Care
Eyesight and Driving
Fungal Nail Infections
Get Active!
Have Health, Will Travel
Health Tips for Seniors
Joint Replacement
Lab Tests
Living Longer With Diabetes
Macular Degeneration
Male Menopause (Andropause)
Maintaining Quality of Life as You Age
Memory Loss
New Corneal Treatments
Nutrition for Seniors
Parkinson Disease
Problem Gambling
Prostate Health
Seniors and Medications
Senior Sexuality
Sexually Transmitted Infections
Screening Tests
Seniors and Driving
Skin Structure
Skin Protection
Skin Over 50
Solving Sleep Issues
Staying Healthy
Stroke Prevention
Travel Tips for Snowbirds
Wills and Personal Directives
Modern Living
Full Listing with story descriptions
Adult ADHD
Aging and Memory
Alcohol and Your Health
Anger Management
Barbecue Basics
Bathtub Safety
Binge Drinking
Bisphenol A
Canada's New Blood System
Caring for a Loved One Dying at Home
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Computer Stress
Coping With Change
Cosmetic Surgery
Cosmetic Pesticides
Diabetes Epidemic
Diseases from Pets
Dying at Home
Erectile Dysfunction New Treatments
Exotic Travel
Fertility Issues
Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder
Foodborne Illness
Flu Pandemic
Healing Through Music
Healthy Computing
Ice Safety
Indoor Air Quality
Mature Student
Melamine in Food
Middle Age Health
Mind-Body Connection
Mom Time
Money Matters
Outdoor Workers and Sun Safety
Patient Safety in the Hospital
Pets and Health Benefits
Pet Therapy
Physiotherapy Visit
Planning for End of LIfe
Reproductive Freedom
Safe Drinking Water
Smokeless Tobacco
Sexually Transmitted Diseases
Stigma of Mental Illness
Street Drugs
Stressed or Depressed?
Stress in the Workplace
Stress Leave
Swim to Survive
Time Management
Travel Health Protection
Travel Comfort Tips
Travel Immunization
Understanding Change
Wind Chill Index
Workplace Drug Testing
Workplace Health
Full Listing with story descriptions
5 Myths about Nutrition and Diabetes
5 Tips to Manage Weight
10 Ways to Cut Down on Fat
Battle the Bulge
Boost Your Bone Strength
Body Image
Breakfast is Important
Bowel Health
Building Your Bones
Celiac Disease
Challenging the Milk Myth
Diet Reality Check
Drink Up!
Eating Smarter and Cheaper
Energy Drinks
Food Allergies
Food for Active Kids
Fast Food
Food Labels
Giving Up Gluten
Healthy Diet, Healthy Smile
Healthy Eating for Boomers and Zoomers
Healthy Eating for Seniors
Healthy Eating on Business Travel
Healthy Ethnic Meals
Fad Diets
Fruits and Veggies - 5-10 a Day
Fat Phobias
Fats and Cholesterol
Feeding Your Kids
Food Chemistry 101
Food and Mood
Getting Kids to MOVE
Healthy Eating for Teens
Healthy Habits
Herbal Medicine and Nutrition
New Ingredients for Your Shopping Cart
Kid's Food
Liquid Candy
Meal Planning with Planned Overs
Meal Planning for Busy Families
Mercury Levels in Fish
Night Snacking
Night Shift Eating
Nutrition on the Net
Nutrition Myths Busted
Nutrition Questions Top 5
Nutrition for Menopause
Essential Omega-3
Preventing Cancer Through Nutrition
Picky Eaters
Power of Fruits and Veggies
Portion Control
Power Lunch
PMS and Nutrition
Preparing for Surgery
Reducing High Blood Pressure
Replacement Meals
Sensible Snacking
Sodium and Blood Pressure
Sports-Minded Nutrition
Sugar Substitutes
Survive and Thrive
Teen Nutrition
Tips for a SuperDiet
Understanding Food Biotechnology
Vacation Eating
Vitamins D
Vitamins and Minerals
Vegetarian Diet
Weight Loss Wisdom
Weight Loss
Weight Wise Tips
Pharmacy Care
Full Listing with story descriptions
After a Heart Attack
Adverse Drug Reactions
Adult Vaccinations
Allergy Attack
Antibiotic Overuse
New Anticoagulant Medications
Inhaled Asthma medications
Arthritis Medications
Biological Response Modifiers
Blood Pressure Monitoring
Blood Thinners
Calcium and Iron Supplements
Changing Role of the Pharmacist
Children's Cold Remedies
Child's Fever
Choosing Sunscreens
Cold Relief
Cold Sores
Constipation and Haemorrhoids
Diuretics and Potassium Supplements
Drug Recalls and Withdrawals
Drug Interactions
Emergency Contraception
Erectile Dysfunction
Expanding Role of Pharmacies
Eye Protection - Sunglasses
Feminine Hygiene
Generic or Name Brand?
Heart Health
Kids and Cold Medications
Medication Questions?
Metabolic Syndrome
Natural Medicines
New Blood Thinners
Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs
Obesity Medication
Over-the-Counter Drugs
Over-the-Counter Pain Relievers
Over-the-Counter Drugs and Pregnancy
OTC Pain Relief
Packing Medications for Travel
Pharmaceutical Studies
Preventing Summer Hazards
Research Studies
Quit Smoking
Skin and Cosmeceuticals
Sports and Nutrition Supplements
Taking Medication
Take as Directed
Using Antibiotics Wisely
Vitamin D
Yeast Infections
Your Best Shot
Your Medicine Cupboard
Full Listing with story descriptions
Accident Prevention
Antibiotic Resistance
Backpack Pain
Bacteria Fight Back
Disaster Planning
Diseases from Pets
Cell Phones and Driving
Childhood Obesity
Cancer Prevention Tips
Chronic Disease Prevention
Cold and Flu Season
Disaster Planning
Diseases from Pets
Distracted Driving
Farm Safety for City Kids
Foodborne Illness
Flu Pandemic
The Flu and You
Heading Home for a Visit
Health Tips for Snowbirds
Hearing Loss and Music Players
H1N1 Virus - Plan Ahead
Household Mould
Infection Control
Injury Prevention
Live Actively!
Insect Repellant
Keys to Preventing Cancer
Kids' Mental Health
Live Actively!
Low Birth Weight
Are Pesticides Safe?
Preventing Burns and Scalds
Preventing Cancer through Nutrition
Quit Smoking 101
Respiratory Infections
Seniors and STIs
Should You Immunize?
Sun Safety
Surviving Disaster
Sushi Preparation
Teens, Drugs and Driving
Travel Health Considerations
Travel Medicine 101
Travel Tips
Type 2 Diabetes Prevention
Water Smarts
Vision Damage
Water Wisdom
West Nile Disease
Whooping Cough
Workplace Alcohol Abuse
Women's Health
Full Listing with story descriptions
15 Great Reasons to Breastfeed
Approaching Menopause
Birth Control
Breast Cancer Screening
Breast Cancer - Genetic Risks
Breast Cancer Self-Exam
Breast Cancer Screening Guidelines Changes
Breast Health
Breastfeeding Myths
Cervical Cancer Screening
Contraception for Mature Women
Cosmetic Procedures
Estrogen's Effect on the Brain
Fear of Fracture
Heart Attack
Hirsutism - Unwanted Hair
Hormone Replacement Therapy
Menopause - What Men Should Know
Menopause and Your Moods
Menstrual Bleeding - Abnormal
Menstrual Bleeding - Heavy
Menstruation Myths
Menstrual Pain
Third Generation Birth Control Pills
Ovarian Cancer
Ovarian Cysts
Oral Contraction (The Pill)
Pap Test
Premenstrual Syndrome
Sexually Transmitted Infections
Urinary Incontinence
Varicose Veins
Viagra for Women
Yeast Infections
Your Pelvic Floor
Family Health Online / Pharmacy at Safeway
spacer   spacer pharmacy image pharmacy
Family Health Magazine - ACTIVE LIVING

Teen Sports Injuries
Can they be prevented?

Many teenagers are active in sports. In Canada, 65 per cent are involved in regular physical activity at least three times a week. Sports are an important part of life. Our kids need to stay active to be healthy in the future. Evidence shows that inactivity is linked to many diseases.

However, teens participating in sports run an increased risk of injury. These injuries can carry lifetime consequences. Adolescents are at higher risk from sport-related injuries for several reasons. Teens vary in their development and are different sizes. The skeleton is also immature. Injury from overuse is a particular concern in this age group. Overuse is likely due to increased skill levels, intensity of training and competition in sport at younger ages, and longer (often year round) training seasons.

Adolescents suffer a high rate of injuries while playing sports. Sport injuries have a significant effect on the teen, their parents and the health care system. In Canada, sport injury is the leading cause of injury in adolescents. It is also the highest cause of injury leading to emergency hospital admission for this age group. In Alberta, it is estimated that one in three teens requires medical attention, and one in ten goes to a hospital emergency department with a sport injury every year. These numbers likely reflect the high number of teens participating in sports and their associated risk of injury. Sport specific injury rates are even higher in sports such as football, hockey, basketball, soccer and gymnastics.

Sport injuries, specifically knee and ankle injuries, can increase the risk of developing osteoarthritis later in life. An estimated eight per cent of adolescents drop out of recreational sporting activities each year because of an injury. Such injuries may reduce future physical activity, leading to less than ideal future health.

Potential Risk Factors for Injury in Youth Sport

Extrinsic Risk Factors


  • Sport played (contact or no contact)
  • Level of play (recreational or elite)
  • Position played
  • Weather
  • Time of season
  • Time of day

Potentially modifiable

  • Rules
  • Playing time
  • Playing surface (type and condition)
  • Equipment (e.g. footwear, helmet)

Intrinsic Risk Factors


  • Previous injury
  • Age
  • Gender

Potentially modifiable

  • Fitness level
  • Training specific to the sport before participating
  • Flexibility
  • Strength
  • Joint stability
  • Biomechanics (how the body moves)
  • Balance and proprioception
  • Psychological and social factors

Are some kids at greater risk of injury in sport?

Even before an actual injury happens, many risk factors for injury in sport can exist. The mechanism of injury (how an injury happens) might involve a pivot maneuver on the court or contact in hockey. Extrinsic risk factors can include weather or field conditions, while intrinsic ones might be the athlete’s age or conditioning level. Modifiable risk factors (see sidebar) can be affected by injury prevention strategies.

Knowing which kids may be at higher risk can help us target them with appropriate prevention strategies. Teen boys playing sports may be at a greater risk of injury. They can be more aggressive, have larger body mass, and make greater contact compared to girls in the same sports. Greater force may be used when running, jumping, pivoting and contacting other players, increasing the risk for injury. In soccer and basketball, however, studies show that girls are more likely to be injured. This may be due to different skill levels or may be physiological in nature.

Studies suggest left-handed teens may also be at more risk of injury. This may be due to the development of the nervous system or simply related to a sports environment biased for right-handed players, especially equipment.

Previous injury clearly increases the risk of injury in sport. Perhaps symptoms persist or the teen needs more rehabilitation. The body may not have healed from physiological problems, associated with a previous injury, such as lax ligaments, decreased muscle strength, endurance, and proprioception. Proprioception is the body’s awareness of joint position and movement and its ability to react to external forces. This includes the ability to co-ordinate muscle effort and sense body-space relations such as maintaining balance.

Hockey, basketball and football are always among the top-rated sports for injury in male athletes. There is certainly significant contact involved in hockey and football, and some in basketball. All three involve jumping, sprinting and pivoting, actions often involved in the mechanism of injury in sport. Gymnastics, basketball and soccer are always among the top-rated sports for injury in female athletes. They also include lots of jumping, sprinting and pivoting.

The risk of injury in child and adolescent sport grows with age. As kids get older, the level of competition, amount of contact, body size, and time spent participating in sport increase. Taller and heavier athletes often do gymnastics or play football, soccer and baseball. They may be more at risk for injury since greater force is absorbed through their soft tissue and joints. In hockey, a contact sport where there is no weight classification, smaller players are more at risk for injury. In Australian Rules football, a larger field size and fewer players likely reduce contact - perhaps why the game in such a venue is associated with a lower risk of injury.

Organized sport and tournament play, including competitions, have higher injury rates than unorganized sport. Athletes are more likely to play at greater intensity and speed in competitions and tournaments than in practice and regular season play. The risk of being injured is heightened.

Since the skeleton is growing rapidly in children and teens, there are physiological reasons why children and adolescents may be at greater risk of injury. For instance, sudden intense traction from a muscle may be placed on an immature skeleton during a period of rapidly increasing muscle strength. This may cause a ligament or tendon to tear away a small piece of bone to which it is attached. The result can be a fracture of the growth plate where bone growth occurs. This injury is not possible in an adult.

Chronic, repeated muscular traction can also be exerted on an immature skeleton, usually during a growth spurt. It can result in traction apophysitis, an inflammation caused by repeated irritation of the growth plate. Osgood-Schlatter and Severs disease are examples of this type of injury that can happen only in children and adolescents.

If pre-season training is limited, the resulting lower endurance and strength can mean a higher rate of injury. In some team sports like rugby or soccer, less than half of the athletes competing at a club or school level have done any pre-season conditioning.

Some athletes may benefit more from the protective effects of training programs than others. For instance, lower skill division adolescent female soccer players may benefit more than those in the higher skill divisions.

Many coaches emphasize stretching as part of a regular warm-up routine. However, lower flexibility has not been shown as a risk factor for injury in most adolescent sports. Increased flexibility seems to be important in gymnastics and figure skating, which demand a high degree of flexibility for many of the moves.

The absence of protective equipment in sport certainly increases the risk of injury in some sports. In hockey, full face shields are often required. Research evidence has found their use does protect against head and face injuries.

A recent high school survey in Alberta suggests that more than half of teens never wear a helmet while skateboarding, scootering and rollerblading. While helmet use has apparently increased in cycling, skiing and snowboarding, less than half of the surveyed teens doing these activities wore a helmet more than 75 per cent of the time. Research evidence has found that helmets protect from head injury in these sports. Some may argue that using a helmet may increase risk-taking behaviour, but this is not supported by research.

Recommendations for injury prevention in adolescent sports

  • Early diagnosis and adequate rehabilitation following a sport injury
  • Approval from a certified sport medicine practitioner (doctor, physiotherapist or athletic therapist) before returning to sporting activity
  • Pre-season examination to identify potential risk factors
  • Learning as much as possible about appropriate, sport-specific protective equipment
  • Adequate, sport-specific pre-season preparation in strength, endurance,
    balance, and flexibility
  • Adequate warm-up and cool-down
  • Recognizing early symptoms associated with overtraining or overuse, including increasing pain when participating and activity-associated pain that does not lessen the following day
  • Understanding the rules associated with a sport to lessen the possibility of injury associated with illegal play - for instance, checking from behind in hockey
  • Appropriate coach training, including skill development and sport safety training
  • Adequate sleep and nutrition
  • Promoting skill development through coaching and mentorship
  • Excellent communication between the teen, parent, coach and sports medicine clinician

The same survey estimates that other protective equipment, such as wrist guards, is rarely used by youth in snowboarding, skateboarding and rollerblading. All of these activities have relatively high rates of wrist fracture.

Can some injuries be prevented in youth sport?

It is impossible to eliminate all injury in youth sport. However, injury prevention strategies can reduce the number and seriousness of injuries in many sports.

More research evidence on injury prevention exists for adult and elite sport than for youth sport. However, sport injury is so significant to adolescents that it warrants specific attention. The long-term effect on sport participation, early osteoarthritis and future risks of obesity and disease is a huge health concern. Still, immediate benefits regarding self-esteem, socialization, teamwork and motor skill development come from participating in sports.

Using protective equipment can help prevent injury in many sports. Such equipment includes full face masks and mouth guards in hockey, shin pads in soccer, and helmets in cycling, skiing and snowboarding. The challenge is to get kids using the equipment. Despite ongoing controversy, combining education, legislation and facility/sport association requirements may be the best way to encourage the use of protective equipment.

Sport-specific injury prevention strategies can help reduce the risk of injury. In particular, risk associated with intrinsic factors including previous injury, decreased strength, endurance, flexibility, and neuromuscular (nerve and muscle) control including balance can be reduced. Prevention strategies have typically focused on adults and elite sport athletes. Neuromuscular training, including balance training like using a wobble board, can have a protective effect for kids involved in high school physical education.

Proprioceptive balance training is an important part of rehabilitation in sport medicine. It is also part of pre-season injury prevention programs for many athletes, including kids. In adult soccer, decreased balance is a risk factor for recurring ankle sprain injury. Injuries can be prevented by improving dynamic posture control and balance and producing more co-ordinated and consistent movement patterns during activities.

Balance training, combined with other training techniques such as strengthening, warm-up, and plyometrics, may reduce ankle and knee sprains in certain elite and adult sports. (Plyometrics are exercises where the muscle is stretched immediately before it is contracts.) Neuromuscular training, with an emphasis on how to jump and land, may also reduce knee injury in some teen sports.

A recent survey in Alberta suggests that prevention strategies targeting certain adolescent sport groups may have the greatest health impact. The sports include basketball, hockey and soccer. Recently, the Sport Medicine Centre at the University of Calgary began a Sport Injury Prevention Research Centre program. Researchers and clinicians from many different backgrounds work together here to reduce injuries in sport. The centre focuses on prevention of injury in adolescent sports. Current projects include a survey examining sport participation, sport injury and sport safety practices for kids, developing injury surveillance and examining risk factors for youth soccer and hockey, and developing prevention strategies for high school basketball.

FAMILY HEALTH is written with the assistance of
Alberta College of Family Physicians
FAMILY HEALTH is written with the assistance of
Alberta College of Family Physicians
While effort is made to reflect accepted medical knowledge and practice, articles in Family Health Online should not be relied upon for the treatment or management of any specified medical problem or concern and Family Health accepts no liability for reliance on the articles. For proper diagnosis and care, you should always consult your family physican promptly. Copyright 2012, Family Health Magazine, a special publication of the Edmonton Journal, a division of Postmedia Network Inc., 10006 - 101 Street, Edmonton, AB T5J 0S1  [AL_FHd04]
Safeway Med Advisor / Safeway Pharmacy logos
Safeway Med Advisor / Safeway Pharmacy logos