The Most Dangerous High School Sports In the U.S. – How to Lessen Your Chances of Injury
School is approaching, which means many high school fall sports have already started with pre-season conditioning. Let’s face it, high school sports are becoming more and more competitive. An increase number of students are focusing on one sport as opposed to juggling several. Some athletes may even have college scholarships on the line. As a result, athletes can become burnt out and fatigued which can increase the chance of injury. As a former high school sports participant, learning the statistics of the most dangerous and safest high school sports in the U.S., fascinated me. Being a soccer player in high school and college, I can understand the injuries that result from overuse and fatigue. Here are 4 simple steps of advice to lessen your chances of injury:
- Wear the proper gear
It may sound simple, but it can help tremendously. Seriously… make sure your shin guards, shoulder pads, helmets, and every single other piece of gear is the right size and fits properly. I can remember neglecting to wear shin guards at soccer practices when I was playing and those practices typically ended with contact between my shin and the other girl’s cleat… Ouch.
- Never forget to warm-up and cool-down
This is another tip that may seem like a no brainer but is important to incorporate in your athletic routine. According to the American Heart Association, “a good warm-up dilates your blood vessels, ensuring that your muscles are well supplied with oxygen. It also raises your muscles’ temperature for optimal flexibility and efficiency. By slowly raising your heart rate, the warm-up also helps minimize stress on your heart.” Cooling down is just as essential. It allows your body to gradually cool-down and can relieve immediate and delayed muscle cramping, soreness, and stiffness.
- Watch out for others
Be aware of your surroundings, especially with sports that involve physical contact! Watch out for any overly aggressive players and keep tabs on them throughout the game. I’m not telling you to be a hesitant player. Playing hesitant can also increase odds of injury. While I was playing soccer, I ALWAYS made sure I knew who was behind me when I went up for a header. Otherwise, I could have been seriously hurt. In sports that don’t have much contact, communication is key. A simple “I got it” can go a long way. Awareness of the playing surface, other players, and equipment will help minimize injury and keep you playing the sport you love.
- Don’t play when you’re injured
Don’t do it. Don’t even think about it. I can relate! The competitive adrenaline-enhanced version of yourself wants to push through the pain and keep playing because the team needs you out there. Let me tell you, it’s not worth it. Playing through an injury can actually side line you even longer than if you addressed the issue from the beginning. Take it from my own experience. Listen to your body. After all, it is your health on the line!
Good luck to all high school Fall sports participants! I hope this advice from a former athlete will help lead you to a safe and injury free season!
Marquette Pick, OPTI Marketing Coordinator & former D1 athlete
OPTI is an outpatient Orthopedic and Sports Physical Therapy Clinic with locations at 144th & Dodge and 144th & Giles.