With the kids back to school, so starts the beginning of fall sports. These sports will build on improvement of cardiovascular and musculoskeletal body systems, as well as building up self-esteem. The sporting events allow children to make friends, have fun and learn to play as a member of a team with good sportsmanship conduct.

Each child will mature physically at his or her own rate and will achieve different degrees of athletic ability. With that said, parents should encourage their children to play in sporting events but never forget that competition should be fun. Some of the more important ways to avoid injuries in all sports include:

· Stretch and strengthen before playing to warm and loosen muscles.

· Wear the correct shoes for your respective sport.

· Avoid repetitive actions that put stress on the bones and muscles.

Many kids who are active in sports can develop an overuse injury in the foot and ankle. For example:

· Blisters are caused by friction when shoes rub repeatedly on the skin, as well as when wearing wet shoes and/or socks.

· Severs Disease is an inflammation in the heel’s growth plates due to trauma to bone, muscles and tendons. It is common in children from 8-15 years old, where the growth plates are not fully developed and get fragmented.

· Turf Toe is a painful hyperextension of the big toe joint commonly caused by artificial turf or grass.

· Shin Splints are inflammation of the front leg muscles that cause pain and discomfort. This condition is often caused by repeated running on hard surfaces or overtraining at the beginning of the season and wearing the wrong shoes with no support.

Enjoy all the sports of the fall season without falling into the overuse syndrome, and know what tell-tale signs to look for in order to prevent injury to your child.

Dr. Robert Weiss, a sports podiatrist, was a member of the Medical Advisory Committee of the 1984 and 1988 Olympic Trials and has a practice in Darien, The Foot & Ankle Institute of Darien. For more information visit his website at www.therunningdoctor.net.