Dedicated to Helping Educators

With our information and tools, you can help children affected by deformities or bone fractures to stay engaged with learning and provide them with much-needed continuity in their lives. See how you can help make a real difference.

Educator with child

Common sports injuries in children

Share this article

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on reddit
Share on linkedin
Share on pinterest
Share on whatsapp
Print this article

Common sports injuries in kids and teens are classified into 3 types: acute injuriesoveruse injuries, and reinjuries.

Acute injury in children

Acute injuries in children are usually associated with some kind of trauma.

In young children, acute sports injuries can include minor bruises, sprains, and strains.

Teenagers are more likely to sustain more severe injuries, including broken bones and torn ligamentsconcussionsskull fracturesspinal cord injuries and eye injuries – scratched corneas, detached retinas and blood in the eyes.

Overuse injuries in sports

Overuse injuries in sports are generally caused by repetitive actions that put too much stress on the bones and muscles. Although this can happen in adults too, they’re more problematic in young kids because they can affect growth.

Common types of overuse injuries include:

  • Knee overuse injuries: pain in the front of the knee under the kneecap. The knee will most likely be sore and swollen due to tendon or cartilage inflammation. The cause is usually muscle tightness in the hamstrings or quadriceps, the major muscle groups around the thigh.
  • Swimmer’s shoulder: inflammation or swelling of the shoulder caused by the repeated stress of the overhead motions used when swimming or throwing a ball. The pain usually begins intermittently but may become continuous pain in the back of the shoulder.
  • Shin splints: characterized by pain and discomfort on the front of the lower parts of the legs. Shin splints are often caused by repeated running on a hard surface or overtraining.
  • Spondylolysis: lower back pain that results from constant overextension, which puts stress on the bones of the lower back. It is commonly seen in kids who play soccer and football, or practice gymnastics, wrestling and diving.
  • Tennis elbow (or “Golfers elbow”) depending on the involved ligament: caused by repetitive throwing, it can result in pain and tenderness in the elbow. The ability to flex and extend the arm could be affected, but the pain typically happens after the follow-through of the throw. Besides pain, pitchers sometimes complain of loss of velocity or decreased endurance when playing.


Reinjury can happen when an athlete returns to a sport before a previous injury has properly healed. Doing so places excess stress upon the injury and forces the body to compensate for the weakness, which can put the athlete at greater risk for injuring another part of the body.

You can avoid reinjury by giving it time to completely heal. Once the doctor has approved a return to the sport, make sure that a child in your care properly warms up and cools down before and after any exercise. Try re-entering the sport gradually. Explain that easing back into the game at a sensible pace is better than returning to the hospital!