When your child begins to show an interest in playing sports, namely basketball, you may find yourself both happy for them and concerned at the same time. After all, with any competitive form of athletics, there are potential health and injury risks. One of the parts of the body that can be most affected by participation in basketball is the feet. However, before you rush off to the sports medicine clinic in search of a podiatrist for your child athlete, get to know more about how to protect your child's feet as they begin to compete in basketball.
Encourage Your Child to Stretch Properly and Weight Train
Many of the injuries that occur to the feet and ankles during basketball practice or competition could be prevented or at least reduced in severity by a simple stretching regimen before beginning the strenuous activities in practice or in games. Most good coaches, especially those that coach young players, will require their players to warm up gradually and stretch before strenuous practices and games.
However, many children do not recognize the importance of stretching and put in minimal effort during stretching exercises. When they do this, they do not get as much out of these exercises as they need and can easily get injured. Make sure your child knows the importance of good and proper stretching and that they always do so at practice and games. Simply standing on one foot and rotating each ankle clockwise and then counterclockwise will help to loosen up the joints and prevent strain.
Weight training is also important to build strength in the muscles that protect the feet and ankles from injury. This is usually an activity done before the sports season starts and should also continue during and after the season. Doing weight exercises makes the muscles stronger, gets them used to the pressure and motion of what they will need to do on the court, and improves performance all while preventing injuries.
Weight training exercises for basketball, and specifically to support the ankles and feet may include squats, leg lifts, and the like. Calf extension exercises in which the person points their toes and pushes against weighted resistance also work to strengthen the muscles in the lower leg and ankle area.
Invest In Good Shoes (That Fit Well)
A good pair of basketball shoes will also help to prevent injuries when your child begins playing and training. Basketball shoes are often high-top shoes that are designed specifically to provide needed support to the ankles as well as the feet.
You will want these shoes to have a snug fit on your child's ankles with some wiggle room in the toes so that the toes can comfortably lay straight in the shoes. The toes should not be curled at all when simply standing in these basketball shoes. Keep in mind, too, that your child may outgrow their basketball shoes before the season is over if they have a growth spurt, so you may need to plan for the possibility that two pairs of basketball shoes will be needed.
The right shoes will provide support to the ankles to prevent rolling or popping of the joints. They will also protect the feet from any damage that can occur due to repeated pressure being placed on them while running and jumping or from falls and other on-the-court incidents.
Now that you have a few ideas of how to help protect your child's feet while playing basketball, you can get started in your injury prevention work. If your child does suffer an injury, podiatrists at a sports medicine clinic (such as Dr. Lisa M. Schoene) will be able to help evaluate and treat your child's injury and get them back on the court.