Tips for Parents
Helping Students Stay Healthy During Summer Sports Season
Knee Health Know-How
We’ve all heard about someone who has "blown out their knee." Knee problems can strike anyone as they participate in active pursuits. Here are some of the most common injuries:
- A Sprain: When your student stretches or tears a ligament, a sprain may occur. At the time of injury, he may hear a popping or snapping sound in the knee. Movement will be painful and he probably won’t be able to put weight on that leg. There will be swelling, fluid behind the kneecap and the knee will feel loose or unstable.
- A Strain: When your student partially or completely tears a muscle or tendon, it can result in knee strain. The symptoms are similar to those of a sprain, plus there may be bruising around the injury.
- Tendonitis: When your student irritates or inflames a tendon through overuse, tendonitis may occur. Symptoms include tenderness or pain when walking, bending, extending or lifting the leg.
- Meniscal Tears: When your student participates in sports that involve sudden changes in speed or side-to-side movements, he may tear the menisci or extra pads of cartilage atop his shinbone (tibia). This often happens at the same time as a severe sprain. This injury can cause tenderness, swelling and tightness around the front of the knee.
- Fractures & Dislocations: When your student cracks, breaks or shatters a bone that’s a fracture. When the kneecap is knocked to the side of the knee joint, that’s a dislocation. There will be a lot of pain, trouble moving the bone, swelling and an abnormal bulge on the side of the knee.
Treat Injuries with "RICE"
The RICE model includes:
- Rest: Reduce or stop using the injured area for at least 48 hours. If you have a leg injury, you may need to stay off of it completely.
- Ice: Put an ice pack on the injured area for 20 minutes at a time, 4 to 8 times per day. Use a cold pack, ice bag or a plastic bag filled with crushed ice that has been wrapped in a towel.
- Compression: Encourage your student to ask his doctor about elastic wraps, air casts, special boots or splints that can be used to compress an injured ankle, knee or wrist to reduce swelling.
- Elevation: Keep the injured area elevated above the level of the heart to help decrease swelling. Use a pillow to help elevate an injured limb.
Source: National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases
Preventing Knee Injuries
Encourage students to take care of their knees by...
- Wearing protective equipment when playing sports, such as kneepads, shin guards, helmets and more.
- Wearing supportive shoes appropriate to your sport.
- Warming up and cooling down when doing activities.
- Stretching regularly to increase flexibility.
- Participating in strength-training to strengthen muscles.
- Bending the knees when landing after a jump.
- Crouching and bending at the knees and hips if a sport involves cutting laterally or pivoting frequently.
- Avoiding play when very tired or in pain.
- Reporting any pain, discomfort or questions to parents, coaches and doctors.
Knees need to last a good, long time so it’s important to take proper knee health into consideration.
Sources: Nemours Foundation; National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases
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