Prevention of Skating Injuries

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San Diego Figure Skating Communications
Sports Health and Injury Issues

      Prevention is the preferred way to confront health and injury issues. It is not surprising that few parents and coaches identify that the lack of sufficient sleep can cause health problems and lead to multiple injuries including some serious career ending accidents.

      Sometimes parents and athletes attempt to cram too much activity into a day/week schedule. The result is that young athletes do not get enough sleep (see chart below) to allow the body and mind to fully recover.
3-6 Years Old:     10 - 12 hours per day*
7-12 Years Old:   10 - 11 hours per day*
12-18 Years Old:   8 - 9   hours per day*
College Age:          6 - 7   hours per day#
               *Source - WebMed
               #Source - CollegeTidbits

Parents may need less sleep than their children
      Many parents will have to stay awake and alert, while the kids fall asleep, on the ride home from a late practice or competition. What ever you do, please make sure that they are buckled up despite the thought of having them tucked in sleeping bags in the back of the car, van, or sports utility vehicle.

      Every Adult has a unique sleep requirement that depends upon genetic and physiological factors in combination with age, sex, and previous sleep amounts. A reasonable definition of what constitutes sufficient sleep is "A good nights sleep is the uninterrupted amount of sleep that is followed by a spontaneous awakening with a feeling of being refreshed, alert, and looking forward to starting the days activities.

      If the weekly schedule of activities does not allow for a daily recovery, do not expect that sleeping in for the weekend will resolve the sleep deficit problem then their weekday schedule. There is a serious problem for the entire family when they are looking forward to going to back to school or work already tired from their weekend activities.

Sleep Restriction
      Research has proven performance after sleep has been reduced by 1 to 3 hours hours for one or more nights have shown increased sleepiness and delayed response time. Other changes associated with similar total sleep loss include decreased short-term memory, poor performance on newly learned or complex tasks, and difficulty maintaining attention. After sleep was restricted, individuals reported a decreased positive mood

      An  individual's perception or subjective assessment of his or her sleepiness starts to level off after a few days indicating that some individuals may develop a tolerance to feelings of sleepiness over a few day. As a result, it more likely that sleep restricted individuals will be unaware of their continuing deterioration in alertness and the safe operation of motor vehicles and the ability to make critical work/family decisions.

     As chronic sleep deficit becomes a chronic condition, those who are experiencing the problem are less likely to recognize they have a problem and who accept it as their norm. A clue to a sleep deficit includes a need for stimulants like coffee to wake up or get going each morning, difficulty remaining focused and productive when sitting for a while, negative mood, or poor memory.

     There is a probability of sleeplessness is a very real heath issue associated with causing physical and mental fatigue that result in poor judgment and errors, especially when associated with strenuous exercise and high stress activities. The likelihood of experiencing injuries is significantly higher as the individual continues in a fatigued state.

Dedication to a Career
      Many salaried employees/partners and athletes are reluctant to take off time from the pursuit of the career to participate to deal with health and injuries in a professionally guided rehabilitation plan.  Some may even to elect to postpone surgery because their perceived need to complete a work project of being unable to complete that season.  This type of decision can have life altering consequences.
      All levels of skaters can experience physical injuries from participating in recreational and figure skating. Skater, parents, and coaches should become familiar with the following different health and injury topics.

      When an athlete first begins to exhibit symptoms of distress, it is essential that a physician be consulted to perform a prompt diagnosis and recommend a course of treatment that is essential in preventing an even more serious problem from developing.

Early Diagnosis of Injuries
       Participation in sports has increased in independently operated community programs, Park and Rec Departments, grade schools, and high schools. 50% of boys and 25% of girls between the ages of 8 and 16 compete in organized sports programs sometime during the year. Some many participate all year round in several sports or exclusively in one sport.
       Peer /social pressure exert considerable force to excel. Adult egos contribute revenues to sport support/booster groups that represent considerable economic leverage on coaches to win at any cost. This usually results in decisions that are not truly in the best interest of the health, growth, and development of these young athletes.

       There are real, measurable differences in coordination, strength, and stamina of developing young athletes. These children are experiencing rapid growth of bones, bone-tendon-muscles, and ligaments that cause them to be especially vulnerable to injury. If the injury involves a growth plate, there can be life long problems as a result.

       Boys involved in contact sports are frequently encouraged to gain weight; however, any increase that is the result of adding fat instead of muscle produces considerable differences in strength relative to body mass.

       Serious injuries are more likely to occur during high school athletic activities because of their larger body mass and musculoskeletal development. The older and larger the athletes the more capable they are of delivering tremendous forces when their bodies or the playing surface come into contact.

       Parents and coaches should carefully watch for early signs of any injury that results in grimaces of pain or limping in young athletes. It is increasing more difficulty to spotting less severe injuries, especial with the mantra of "No pain, no gain!" constantly drilled into the athletes. Just because the pain experienced is a low grade it is often ignored. Repetitive injuries may become very serious because of the accumulation of damage to tissue and bones. This can cause an athlete to be sidelined for the rest of the season. Sometimes what seems to be insignificant can develop into a career ending injury.

Get an Immediate Diagnosis and Treatment
       Foot, ankle, and knee injuries are serious and even strains and bruises should be iced immediately, it is not uncommon for a "green stick" fracture to have occurred. Such injuries may not even show up until considerable swelling and bruising develop.

       Concussions are even more difficult to handle, especially when the athlete keeps pleading to be put back in the game. No game is so important that risking long term brain damage or even death can result after the athlete losses consciousness. Take them out of the game and send them immediately to a hospital. Most athletic events have a fully equipped fire/rescue vehicle with a team of trained paramedics.

       Repetitive stress cause injury to immature bones and muscles. Protective equipment may provide protection for the young athletes. However, a well designed training program should provide the conditioning similar to the treatment used in rehabilitation programs. The purpose of a conditioning program is to increase the strength and flexibility of specific groups of muscles that are subject to injury. This varies according to the sport, but generally involves exercises to strengthen, enhance endurance, increase flexibility, and achieve improved cardiorespiratory fitness. Sharp pain followed by continued pain is usually a warning sign that should not go unheeded.

Recommended Reading: 



The following internet links have been gleaned from personal communications
combined with information from public institutions and athletic organizations/
associations that have a web presence with information concerning team and
individual sports programs:

Sports Health and Injury Issues
PDF  Sports Medicine Links
Prevention of Athletic Injuries
Identifying & Treating Sports Injuries
Preventing & Treating Sports Injuries
Common Sports Injuries
Injury Prevention of Athletes
Protective Equipment

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