A safer approach to
work, life and sport

ADVOCATES FOR SAFETY

A safer approach to work, life and sport

Injuries & Conditions You Need to Know About

How to Reduce Your Risk of these Common High School Winter Sports Injuries

Amanda Muscatell 21 November 2016 All incidence rate data gathered from the National High School Sports-Related Injury Surveillance Study


1. Ankle Sprain/Strain

Common in (incidence rate): Basketball (31.5%), Cheerleading (10.4%), Hockey (5.4%), Wrestling (6.8%)

How you can reduce your risk (in order of importance)

  • Participate in a lower body strength training program.
  • Warmup before playing with an active dynamic warmup.
  • Tape or brace your ankles during practices and games.
  • Wear high-top shoes if possible, they offer more ankle support than low-top shoes.


2. Knee Sprain/Strain

Common in (incidence rate): Basketball (4.9%), Cheerleading (7.3%), Hockey (3.6%), Wrestling (6.8%)

How you can reduce your risk (in order of importance)

  • Participate in a lower body strength training program that incorporates plyometric exercises and balance control.
  • Stretch your hip, hamstrings and quads before playing.
  • Warmup before playing with a lower body active dynamic warmup.
  • Participate in an ACL prevention course.


3. Shoulder Sprain/Strain

Common in (incidence rate): Cheerleading (2.1%), Hockey (6.3%), Wrestling (7.0%)

How you can reduce your risk (in order of importance)

  • Participate in an upper body strength training program that targets your upper back and rotator cuff muscles.
  • Stretch your triceps, rotator cuff, biceps and upper back before playing.
  • Warmup your schoulders before playing with an upper body active dynamic warmup.


4. Upper Leg (Groin, Quad, Hamstring) Sprain/Strain

Common in (incidence rate): Basketball (5.1%), Cheerleading (4.1%), Swimming (5.9%), Wrestling (2.5%)

How you can reduce your risk (in order of importance)

  • Participate in a lower body strength training program.
  • Stretch the muscles of your upper leg, groin and hip before playing.
  • Warmup before playing with a lower body active dynamic warmup.


5. Lower Leg Injuries (Stress Fractures, Stress Reactions, Shin Splints)

Common in (incidence rate): Basketball (2.2%), Cheerleading (1%), Indoor Track (18.2%), Indoor Tennis (8.3%), Wrestling (1.4%)

How you can reduce your risk (in order of importance)

  • Ensure there is adequate recovery time in between your practices/games.
  • Have a well-balanced diet that includes calcium and vitamin D.
  • Participate in a lower body strength training program.
  • Ensure that your shoes are properly fitted and in good condition.
  • Warmup before playing with an active dynamic warmup.
  • Stretch the muscles of your lower leg before playing.


Even though you can greatly reduce your risk of injury by implementing these measures and getting a pre-participation physical exam before each season, you can never prevent injuries altogether. If and when an injury occurs, ask your athletic trainer: What specific exercises can I do to prevent this from happening again? What stretches do I need to add to my pre-game routine? You may be suprised that after going through rehabilitation, you can come back a more complete player.


About the Author

Scott, Katie MS, ATC, LAT Katie Scott, MS, ATC, LAT earned her bachelor’s degree in athletic training from Northern Illinois University and her master’s degree in athletic training from Michigan State University where she focused her research efforts towards lower body injury prevention. Before becoming the Athletic Trainer in Residence at the National Athletic Trainers’ Association, she served as a post-graduate intern for Northwestern University and an athletic trainer at Kent State University.