BACK TO SCHOOL: Student-athletes prepare for sports seasons, watch for injuries

Posted at 4:37 AM, Aug 06, 2015
and last updated 2016-07-25 15:49:28-04

The start of the 2016-2017 school year means the start of sports for many kids in the Tampa Bay area. Some fall sports are already in full swing at middle schools and high schools.

Before your child can start practice, they must submit a physical form completed by a doctor. The sports physical is separate from the regular back to school physical.

"It's different. It's a more thorough examination because obviously the risk of injury is greater playing a sport. School physicals are more of a general evaluation," says Lanness Robinson, Director of Athletics for Hillsborough County Schools.

You can find the FHSAA physical form here:

As you prepare your children for the upcoming sports year, it's important for parents to be aware of any injuries or pain your child may be experiencing.

Injuries from sports are bound to happen but overuse injuries and playing with/on an injury is what makes them worse and sometimes can lead to the end of an athlete's season or even career.

New research from The Ohio State University shows girls are more vulnerable to overuse injuries in high school sports than boys. An overuse injury is one where the action is repeated over and over again.

The study, published in the Journal of Pediatrics, looked at 3,000 male and female injury cases over a 7-year period. In all, 20 high school sports such as volleyball, soccer and lacrosse were included.

Doctors found girls are at a higher risk than boys for overuse injuries- including stress fractures, tendonitis and joint pain.

"It's a number of different factors. Girls are having to play more and more hours so the demand on their bodies is increasing. They're practicing more. They have more games and, as compared to boys, the neuromuscular development lags behind so they're not able to support their joints, their muscles, their tendons as well as boys can because they don't have the strength," says Dr. Arnold Ramirez, Head Team Physician for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The study shows girls track had the highest rate of overuse injuries, followed by field hockey and lacrosse. For boys, overuse injuries were found in athletes who participate in swimming and diving.

Overuse injuries account for twice as many visits to the doctor than something as simple as strained or weakened muscle.

Another injury female athletes need to be aware of is an ACL injury.

"Girls are four to six times more likely to develop a non-contact ACL injury than boys. There are many proposed factors as to why that is. They have shorter ACLs and the notch in between where the ACL sits is a little bit more narrow. Some have proposed maybe hormones cause the ACL to be a little more loose. Also how they run, how they cut and move are also reasons why they have more ACL injuries," says Ramirez.

Ramirez suggests rest and regular exercise for any athlete. He says it's also important to have a variety of movements and stresses playing more than one sport can help ease the stress on joints and muscles.