3 Ways to Keep Your Kids Safe From Summer Sports Injuries

With summer vacation under way, kids will be heading to camp, where they can expect to play high-injury-risk sports like tennis, basketball, soccer and track. Common injuries associated with these sports include: sprains, heel pain, shin splints, tendinitis, blisters, corns and calluses.

Another injury kids may be facing? Foot contusions! Let's take a look at this scary-sounding foot injury (that actually isn't as bad as it sounds).

What is a Foot Contusion? 
 

A foot contusion is basically just a bruise on the foot or ankle. A contusion develops when the small blood vessels in your foot or ankle break open due to the force of an impact, leaking blood into the surrounding areas. Contusions are often the result of being hit by a blunt object, like a ball or bat, somethings kids may have to deal with during baseball or soccer games at camp. 

Symptoms of a foot contusion include: 

  • Black and blue coloring
  • Tenderness to touch
  • Swelling 

It is important to note that some of these symptoms may not show up until several hours after the initial injury. 

Treating a Contusion

Typically, contusions aren't considered serious injuries. Most bruises resolve in a week or so, although the skin discoloration can stick around for a lot longer than that. Still, when the contusion is situated at a joint, like the knee or ankle, the injury can be a bit more serious, as range of motion can be affected. 

Your doctor will determine whether or not your child needs to tape or bandage a foot contusion, and whether or not additional treatment is necessary. Most kids will be able to speed recovery by following this protocol: 

  • RICE 
    • Rest. As much as possible, the athlete should not use the injured area. In some cases, athletes may be given a brace or sling to keep an injured joint still, but this is not typical with a simple contusion. 
       
    • Ice. Put ice on the injured area 3–4 times a day, for 20 minutes at a time. Use an ice pack or bag of frozen peas wrapped in a thin towel. Never put ice directly on your athlete’s  skin.
       
    • Compression. If instructed, wrap the area to keep swelling down. Use an elastic bandage. Do this only as instructed by a doctor.
       
    • Elevation. Have your child raise the injured body part above the level of his or her heart.
  • Medications to relieve inflammation and pain may be helpful when dealing with a particularly bad contusion. These will likely be NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) like ibuprofen or naproxen. These medications should only be used as directed by your child's doctor, especially if he or she is not yet a teenager.

Want to keep your child’s summer (and feet) injury-free? Here are three suggestions from the APMA (American Podiatric Medical Association) on how to keep summer foot and ankle injuries at bay.

Protecting Kids' Feet from Injury

1.  Protective taping of the ankles can go a long way toward preventing sprains or fractures.

2. Buying a shoe designed for the specific sport your child is playing will improve his or her performance while adding more guided protection from sport-specific foot and ankle injuries.

3. Choosing the right sock can make a world of difference. Athletic socks should consist of a natural/synthetic blend of materials designed to wick away moisture (and foot fungus like Athlete’s foot) and minimize foot odor. Avoid socks with large seams or low heights that might allow for blisters or irritation.

Dr. Andrew Schneider
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Dr. Andrew Schneider is a podiatrist and foot surgeon at Tanglewood Foot Specialists in Houston, TX.