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Avoiding injuries

A girl knealing down and holding her hurt knee while her friend tries to comfort her.

Check out our info on avoiding and dealing with some common injuries girls may face.

Avoiding knee injuries arrow. top

Knee injuries happen pretty often to young people. One of the most common knee injuries is a torn anterior cruciate (say: KROO-she-ayt) ligament, called ACL for short. Teenage girls get these injuries a lot more than guys do. Why? Possibly because of the way girls' bodies are made or because of the way girls use them.

If you have a torn ACL, you might have one or all of the following symptoms:

  • A "popping" sound at the time of the injury
  • Pain
  • Not being able to put weight on your knee
  • Swelling

If you think you have any kind of injury to your knee, you should stop using it. Tell your parent or guardian right away (or, if you are at school, tell your coach or teacher). Treatment for a torn ACL may include surgery and physical therapy. Don't play again until your doctor says you can.

Your best bet is to try to prevent an ACL injury. Talk to your coach or gym teacher about what you can do. Special exercises can help build strength and flexibility, for example. You also can learn safer ways to do riskier movements, like making sure to bend your knees when you jump.

Learn more about the different types of knee injuries and treatments.

Protecting your bones arrow. top

Your teenage years are the most important time for building strong bones. Physical activity, calcium, and vitamin D help build strong bones. Having strong bones can help prevent osteoporosis (say: OSS-tee-oh-puh-ROH-suhss), which is a disease that can put you at risk for broken bones when you get older.

Sometimes, girls can develop osteoporosis when they're young. This doesn't happen very often. But it can happen if you get a lot of exercise from activities like competitive sports  but you don't eat enough healthy food. Osteoporosis can ruin a female athlete's career because it may lead to frequent or serious injuries.

If you exercise a lot like in a competitive sport, make sure to eat a variety of healthy foods, including ones with calcium and vitamin D to protect your bones.

Not sure how much food you need? Every person is different, but generally teenage girls who are active for about an hour a day need between 2,000 and 2,400 calories every day. (For example, a 16-year-old girl who is a healthy weight and runs for an hour five days a week can eat around 2,200 calories each day.) Use the SuperTracker to get a personal plan with recommended calories and amounts of types of food to eat.

Do you do high-impact activities, like running or gymnastics? Vitamin D also may help lower your risk of getting tiny cracks in your bones, called stress fractures. You can do other things to help protect your bones from stress fractures, too. These include:

  • Making sure to use the right equipment, like wearing running shoes for running
  • Strengthening your muscles, so they can help protect your bones
  • Taking a break from your high-impact activity at least one day each week
  • Increasing how hard you work out only a little bit at a time
  • Making sure to rest if you start to feel pain

Concussion and girls arrow. top

Quick concussion cure?

Some companies claim their dietary supplements can prevent, treat, or cure concussions. But these products have not been proven to work and may even be bad for you. If a claim sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

A concussion is a type of brain injury. It can happen when your head gets hit. But it also can happen when another part of your body gets hit in a way that the force goes all the way to your brain. Concussion is a possible risk for girls who play basketball, soccer, lacrosse, and other sports.

To lower the chances of getting a concussion, always make sure to follow any rules of your sport and to use the right equipment.

Symptoms of a concussion can happen right away or several hours later. They include:

  • Headache
  • Not being able to remember things well
  • Feeling dazed, confused, or dizzy
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Blurred vision
  • Being sensitive to noise or light
  • Having slurred speech or saying things that don't make sense
  • Not being able to concentrate
  • Feeling overly tired
  • Passing out (but often a person with a concussion doesn't pass out)

Girls may have different concussion symptoms than boys. In a recent study, girls were more likely to feel drowsy and sensitive to noise. Those signs can be harder to notice than boys' symptoms, which most often were confusion and not remembering things.

If you get a concussion, you must rest your body and your mind. If you think you might have a concussion, you should stop playing right away. If you have a concussion, make sure to follow all your doctor's instructions for healing, even if you start to feel better. When can you play again? When a doctor or other licensed health professional trained in concussions says you can.

Safety and team sports arrow. top

Team sports are fun and a great way to stay fit. One sport that has been growing in popularity — but also in riskiness — is cheerleading. Whatever your sport, remember to follow all the safety rules. Check out some more tips for safety in sports.

What to do if you've had an injury arrow. top

It's very important to be careful about injuries. Make sure to:

  • Stop doing the activity that you think caused the injury
  • Tell your parents or guardian or your doctor if any of these happens:
    • You have pain that is very bad, gets worse, or lasts more than a few days
    • There is swelling where you got hurt
    • The pain gets in the way of your activities or sleep
    • Your injury is causing numbness
  • Follow your doctor's instructions on how to care for your injury and deal with any pain
  • Rest for as long as your doctor says and don't play again until your doctor gives you the okay, or you will risk not getting better

 

Content last reviewed March 27, 2015
Page last updated June 28, 2015

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