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Soccer Kids Need Protection

Ever since 1984, the year soccer passed baseball as the most popular team sport in the United States, participation in this sport has skyrocketed. With increasing numbers of children running and kicking their way down soccer fields across America, doctors of chiropractic are urging parents to take a step back and learn how to protect their children from the potential injuries this popular sport can cause.

Although soccer can be a great overall sport for children, some youngsters are enduring mild to severe head traumas, neck injuries, damage to the cervical spine, headache, neck pain, dizziness, irritability, and insomnia as a result of their participation, according to the September 2000 issue of the Journal of the American Chiropractic Association (JACA). Each year, in fact, youths under age 15 suffer more than 227,100 soccer-related injuries, according to recent reports.

Heading the Ball: A Risk for Children

"People have this misconception that soccer has no risk," says Scott Bautch, DC, past president of the American Chiropractic Association's (ACA) Council on Occupational Health, who has five children playing soccer. "I think soccer is too aggressive too early, which is leading to potential problems. It's not as though we can fix brain damage later on in these kids' lives." Soccer requires three basic skills - kicking (striking the ball with the feet), trapping (similar to catching the ball, only using different parts of the body), and heading the ball, (the deliberate use of the head to redirect the ball). It's that last one - heading - that stirs concern and controversy over possible permanent damage.

Philip Santiago, DC, who was an All-American soccer player in college and a professional player for five years, says that heading is safe only when children are given "proper coaching in proper technique." Dr. Santiago has also served for five years as head soccer coach at both New York Institute of Technology and Montclair State University, and was the chiropractor for the United States Olympic Team in 1992. Dr. Santiago's opinion on proper technique is backed up in a study of elite soccer players at the 1993 Olympic Festival. "While properly executed heading was not found to result in any concussive episodes, 18 percent (18 of 102) of the concussions were a result of heading," the study found.

Dr. Santiago would like to see youngsters hold off heading until age 10 or 11. Dr. Bautch prefers age 14 to 16, based on maturation and development of the spine.

Helmets: Not A Complete Solution

Some school districts are now requiring helmets for young soccer players. However, Dr. Bautch, who says helmets are "a positive," worries that helmets don't protect the spine and don't make up for too-aggressive play. "They are just a small piece that may give some protection," he explains. "I'd hate to see kids wear helmets and have people think that the kids are safe and that they don't have to teach safety and prevention. I would rather see no heading without helmets in young kids, and let helmets be introduced later."

Prevention and Treatment of Injuries

Parents should also encourage a broad spectrum of sports - like soccer, skating and skiing, for example - to develop the whole body. Over-playing and over-training are problems exacerbated by ambitious parents, peer pressure and adult role models. Children need their rest time.

If an injury occurs, think RICE - rest, ice, compression, and elevation of the injury - which is the recommended procedure. Keep the injury iced until the swelling is down, applying ice no longer than a 20-minute session. After 20 minutes, ice fatigues the blood vessels and causes a heat reaction that actually increases swelling. Leave the ice off for about an hour and reapply. Then, try to get the child to move the injured area as soon as possible. If pain persists, consider taking your child to a chiropractor or other health care professional.

Other Recommendations for Soccer Safety

Parents can help protect their children from soccer injuries. Many of the participants at a recent Consumer Product Safety Commission roundtable insisted that parents and coaches already have the tools at their disposal. Among them are:

  • teaching and use of proper heading technique
  • use of smaller balls for younger players
  • strict enforcement of rules
  • padding of goal posts
  • use of mouth guards
  • improved medical coverage at games
  • coaches educated in symptoms of brain injury
  • proper nutrition, including plenty of water to keep muscles hydrated

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Dr. Andrew Zomick & Dr. David Avallon

I have been coming to Stamford Sports and Spine for almost 10 years. I am active and have unfortunately been in a few car accidents. The care and treatment offered at Stamford Sports and Spine is world class and without them I would be living with an inordinate amount of pain and discomfort. Going to Stamford Sports and Spine has made my injuries manageable.

--James


Very good team of therapists. Flexible and available schedule. They helped get my teenage athletes back on the field in half the time.

--Shawn


I was experiencing some pain in my right shoulder and numbness down my arm to my hand. The range of motion in my shoulder was limited and I could not participate in volleyball. Dr. Z came to our office offering a free chair massage and a chance to come in for an evaluation. I did this and we worked out a treatment plan that included therapy and adjustments. I noticed in the first few weeks the pain subsided greatly in my shoulder. The numbness in the arm and hand were present but noticeably better. After three weeks, the range of motion in my shoulder was back to normal and the pain was gone. Now after one month of therapy the numbness in the arm is extremely better and I do not notice the symptoms as often as I used to. Coming into the office has helped tremendously. I can now play volleyball pain-free.

--Mary


After moving from London to the USA, two weeks into living in Stamford and having carried and unpacked a lot of heavy boxes my shoulder froze and I was in a great deal of constant pain. After finding Stamford Sports & Spine on the internet I made an appointment and the corrective programme S.S.S. put together for me meant that I immediately had some pain relief, and over the next few weeks the pain left completely. The programme is also ensuring that I am not only pain free but fully corrected so as this problem should not occur again. Very friendly staff and very detailed assessment programme that has ensured my full recovery.

--Laura


From my first visit to Stamford Sports & Spine I was extremely impressed and pleased with their service. Everyone including staff and doctors were very knowledgeable with their chiropractic services. I learned a great deal about my symptoms and overall care more than I expected. I have visited a few other chiropractors but none were as thorough as Stamford Sports & Spine. I was experiencing severe pain in my shoulder and arm and after a few visits my pain decreased substantially. I really appreciate all the services from the adjustments, rollers and even exercise room. I would highly recommend this facility to everyone. The entire staff are friendly, professional and just simply great!

--Sherri


Everyone was incredibly professional and helpful.  The staff is friendly and goes beyond what was expected to meet my needs and education me about my condition.

--Jon


Came in with severe and constant numbness and tingling in my legs and feet. The treatment worked quickly and resolved all of my symptoms. Thanks!

--Erik


My arms were falling asleep every night and had numbness and tingling during the day. I no longer have any of those symptoms during the day and have very rare episodes of pain at night due to my treatment here at Stamford Sports & Spine

--Eric


I came in for hip pain and stiff neck that also affected my right arm and hand. Using the relaxing rolling / traction bed and electrical muscle stimulation along with stretching and the adjustments my hip pain is gone. I can walk without sharp pains running up and down my legs. My neck range of motion has improved and my muscles are more flexible and less spastic.

--Karen


I had severe neck pain which was aggravated by a recent move. I have been coming to be adjusted for a few weeks now and not only has it helped with the neck pain I had been experiencing, but it has also made me feel better overall. I feel like I am able to sit up straighter, and my muscles are looser and less tense. I no longer have the intense pain I had once been experiencing

--Kim


When I came in my pain was a 10 out of 10. After just one week of care my pain went down to a 4 and has been improving ever since. The staff are very friendly and great educators. I learned a lot about my body and how to take better care of myself.

--Heidi


After a car accident,  I had to seek help for my upper back and neck pain. Slowly but surely I started to feel better, not immediately, but by keeping up with my visits with Dr. Q & Dr. Z. Now I can tell you that I feel leaps and bounds better, and am now looking forward to a pain-free summer.

--Rudy


I have been with Stamford Sports & Spine for more than a year now. I still remember how much pain I was in during my first session. I can now walk in and out without any aches or pains.

--Rick


When I first started going to Stamford Sports & Spine, my back had been seizing up with alarming regularity. After just a few months of working with Dr. Z and Dr. Q, I feel much more confident in my daily activities and have even been able to return to the gym.

--Dan


Thank you to Dr. Z, Dr. Q and the whole Stamford Sports & Spine team! For many years, I have been suffering from severe back pain that would sometimes keep me from going to work. The recurring pain would come and go and I couldn't figure out what I was doing to cause it. When I came to the office, Dr. Z took x-rays, did a complete examination and educated me as to what was happening and why. I began treatment and was given exercises to prevent these injuries from happening in the future. Since starting the treatment, I have seen a great improvement in my back. The pain is gone and I have an increased range of motion. Thanks again to the entire staff who are very friendly and always willing to accommodate my hectic schedule when I make appointments.

--Ron


The strabismus in my eyes caused a vertical deviation in my eye placement.  This resulted in my head naturally tilting to the right and throwing my muscular structure in my neck and shoulders off.  I had accepted the tilt and tightness as a way of life and a natural dis-figuration of my spine.  I almost didn't sign on for initial treatment.  After 3 visits I have already noticed a difference in the position of my head, my posture and regular comfort levels.  There is still a ways to go to rid that area of  a lifetime of dysfunction, but what a relief to know it's treatable and already improving.

-Jenn


I found Dr. Z and Dr. Q earlier in the week after experiencing some back pain and sciatica. After the consultation and x-rays I began therapy. After just 2 treatments I felt much better and had a significant reduction in discomfort in the area of concern. I am looking forward to continuing my treatment in an effort for long term recovery and a return to my heavy exercise routine.

--Tom


FANTASTIC. When I leave I feel like a whole new woman. I have been going there for my neck pain and headaches for about 1 year now; off and on and ever since I started treatment there my headaches have been reduced to one every few months instead of a few every month. The intensity of of my pain has also been reduced to almost nothing. The doctors seem to have a very friendly relationship with all of the patients and I feel very welcomed by the staff as well. Not to mention I love how they incorporate therapeutic massages into my treatment. I have since sent over many of my colleagues and family, who also share the same feelings. Thank you.

--Bri


I had a great experience. My low back pain is completely gone. I found the staff extremely knowledgeable, accommodating and friendly. I would highly recommend them.

--Jay F.

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