Back To School Safety: Preparing For School Sports

September 19, 2022 | By: Raleigh Orthopaedic Team

Be Prepared for Back to School Sports

The start of another September means that students of all ages are back to school, eager to learn and participate sports activities. With fall sports underway, there is no better time for parents to prepare themselves to protect and support their student athletes.

Sprains, muscle strains, breaks, growth plate injuries, and dislocations are common among school-aged children and teens.  While these injuries can happen on the playground, during physical education classes, or simply from a trip or fall, the most frequent cause is team sports related. In fact, Safe Kids Worldwide reported that 62 percent of organized-sports related injuries occurred during practice.

Preparation is the key to preventing injuries. Here are a few ways parents can help their children prepare for sports season:

Get a pre-participation exam – Student athletes should have a pre-participation exam to determine their readiness to play a sport. The exam may uncover any condition that would limit the student’s ability to participate in a particular activity.

Hydrate – Hydration helps regulate body temperature, lubricate joints, and transport nutrients throughout the body. Making sure that your young athlete is hydrated will also reduce muscle cramps and avoid dizziness/lightheadedness. The American Council on Exercise (ACE) recommends an active person consume:

  • 17-20 ounces of water 2-3 hours prior to exercise
  • 8 ounces of water 20-30 minutes before exercise or during a warm-up
  • 7 -10 ounces of water every 10-20 minutes during exercise
  • 8 ounces of water within 30 minutes after exercise

Prioritize Nutrition – An adequate intake of carbohydrates and proteins, vitamins, and minerals will ensure that young athletes are properly fueled, improving sleep, mood, and performance. A balanced plate should include whole grains, lean proteins, healthy fats, fruits and vegetables. Under-fueled athletes will become fatigued, leading to increased risk of injury. For example, stress fractures can occur if an athlete is low in calcium and vitamin D. Proper nutrition also helps the body repair and recover from injury and repetitive use of certain muscle groups.

Get Quality Sleep – Sleep deprivation negatively impacts nutritional, endocrine, and metabolic status. Not only does this reduce overall athletic performance, it impairs reaction time which may result in injury. Benefits of quality sleep include improved decision-making capabilities, memory functions, appetite control, speed, and motor accuracy. The recommended sleep duration for children ages 6-13 is 9-11 hours per night, while 8-10 hours is recommended for children ages 14 -17.

Appropriate Gear – Gear requirements vary among sports. Helmets are the most common form of protective gear in football, hockey, softball, and baseball. Helmets should fit snugly, comfortably, and straps, as applicable, should be fastened securely prior to practicing or playing. Knee guards, wrist pads, and elbow pads are also helpful in preventing impact injuries.

Warm Up and Cool Down – Pre and post workout/practice session exercises play a critical role in preparing the body for activity and aiding in recovery. The warm up process increases muscle temperature, leading to the dissociation of oxygen from hemoglobin, improving metabolic chemical reactions and cellular processes. With a proper warm up such as light jogging, muscles are able to move quickly and efficiently, reducing the risk of musculoskeletal sports-related injuries. A cool down routine following periods of heavy exercise (practice, game, competition) is just as important to slowly decrease body temperature and lower the athlete’s heart rate. Simple movements, like stretching or foam rolling, will help the body dispose of harmful toxins that may cause muscle stiffness or aches.

Seek help for injuries – Minor muscle aches or soreness after practice or an intense game are to be expected in most cases. However, if your child has acute or persistent pain, before or during an activity, they should be taken to see a doctor for further evaluation.


Despite preventative safety measures, children and teenagers are sure to injure themselves at some point. When that happens, it is important to know where to take them. If your child is injured, skip the ER line and take them to one of Raleigh Orthopaedic’s multiple urgent care locations.  We have a team of dedicated advanced practice providers to treat your child’s urgent orthopedic needs.

Injuries Typically Treated at Urgent Care

At the Raleigh Orthopaedic Urgent Cares, we can provide treatments for a wide variety of acute injuries.  The Raleigh Orthopaedic Physician Assistants and Nurse Practitioners are trained to handle serious, but not life-threatening problems including:

  • Sprains and strains
  • Minor dislocations
  • Sports-related injury
  • Possible broken bone/fracture
  • Recent injuries to: foot and ankle, elbow or shoulder, Hand Wrist, back and neck
  • Minor cuts
  • Cast or wound dressing problems

The physician assistant or nurse practitioner will perform an examination, order X-rays (if needed), provide a diagnosis, and treat the specific injury. If the urgent care provider determines that a physician is needed for consultation or treatment, a referral to one of our orthopedic physicians at the location of your choice will be made.

Why Urgent Care?

Cost effective – Most unexpected injuries, especially school or sports related injuries, do not require a trip to the emergency room. Raleigh Orthopaedic Urgent Care provides patients with immediate access to expert care, at the cost of a regular doctor’s office visit rather than the high cost of an ER visit. To help make using our practice and services as convenient as possible for our patients and families, Raleigh Orthopaedic Clinic accepts many major health insurance plans.

Specialized care – Orthopedic providers are trained and skilled at identifying and treating bone, joint, and muscle injuries. At standard urgent care centers, these types of injuries are referred out to an orthopedic specialist. Going through the referral process will increase the time spent traveling to receive appropriate treatment.  You can avoid additional steps by going directly to a clinic designed to provide same-day treatment to orthopedic cases.

No appointment necessary – Unlike scheduling a primary care or specialist visit, there is no need to make an appointment at an urgent care center. Walk-ins are welcome. Urgent care is available 8am -8pm, 7 days a week at Raleigh Orthopaedic’s Edwards Mill clinic. We also offer urgent care services at our Holly Springs, Wakefield, and Garner clinics, Monday to Friday, 8am to 4pm.



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The material contained on this site is for informational purposes only and DOES NOT CONSTITUTE THE PROVIDING OF MEDICAL ADVICE, and is not intended to be a substitute for independent professional medical judgment, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your health.