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Preparation Prevents Injuries for IN School Athletes

August 17, 2011

INDIANAPOLIS - Back to school also means back to sports for many of Indiana's children. To prevent sports injuries, experts say it's critical that players are physically prepared, know their limits and use the proper safety equipment, correctly fitted.

Making sure youths have the proper sizes of equipment is important, says Dr. Kevin Gebke, director of the Indiana University Center for Sports Medicine - and for those in track, that includes running shoes.

"We see a significant increase in overuse injuries, including stress fractures in people who don't have the appropriate footwear."

That means shoes with less than 400 miles of running and walking on them, says Gebke, who adds that miles add up quickly when a cross-country runner trains 40 miles a week.

Youths really need to pay attention to what their bodies are telling them, Gebke says.

"You need to listen to your body. And the reason that you feel pain signals - many times especially escalating pain signals - is because something is wrong. And ignoring that and assuming it's going to go away doesn't always work."

Youths also need to be honest with their parents about aches and pains, Gebke says, and parents need to pay attention to how their children are acting and feeling.

There's an increased focus on head injuries, he says, and everyone - from athlete to coach to parent - should be aware of the signs.

"Headaches and light sensitivity, and worsening symptoms with running and participating in sports - but there are other subtle symptoms, too, like sleep disturbance and mood disturbance. "

The other precaution this time of year is staying hydrated. While Indiana weather has moderated in the last week, hot and humid conditions can quickly put a child at risk for heat-related illnesses.

Leigh DeNoon, Public News Service - IN