Courtesy of Excelsior Orthopaedics

Fall sports are in full swing, and so is the risk for injuries. Ankle sprains are a common injury for athletes, according to Christopher Stawitz, a clinical athletic trainer at Excelsior Orthopaedics.

“Ankle sprains are common in the fall, especially among soccer and football players,” says Stawitz. “Most ankle sprains are treated conservatively, with ice and a couple of weeks of rest, but a small percentage may need to see a physician.”

Stawitz works with Dr. Jason Matuszak, a primary care sports medicine physician. They agree that ankles, knees, shoulders, forearms, and wrists are the most common body parts to get injured this time of year. For the lower body, if the athlete can bear weight, it’s often minor. If they can’t, it could be more serious.

“Fortunately, most common injuries are relatively minor and treated based on symptoms, allowing athletes to return to the game in the same season. However, serious injuries, which often occur during the season’s end, are more common with the highest contact sports. For boys, it’s football and soccer, and for girls, it’s soccer and cheerleading,” says Dr. Matuszak.

Serious injuries include ACL tears, shoulder dislocations, clavicle fractures, and fractures in general. While life-threatening injuries are rare, they do occur, and are important to keep in mind. They include cervical spine/neck injuries and brain bleeds, which can result in paralysis or death, and are more likely to happen in football or cheerleading. Apart from musculoskeletal injuries, are concussions, for which Dr. Matuszak recommends seeing a child’s primary care physician or concussion specialist for treatment.

While injuries are possible, athletes, coaches, and parents all have a role in reducing risk. Stawitz says strength and conditioning, before getting on the field, help ensure that an athlete is practicing proper movement patterns and is well trained in agility and flexibility. Other preventive measures include bracing, taping, and wearing proper footwear. Also, one of the biggest predictors of an injury is having sustained a previous injury, especially if not fully rehabilitated before returning to play.

When an injury occurs, Excelsior providers recommend allowing athletic trainers to do their jobs, as they are often the first responders. “An athletic trainer is a medical professional who can assess the injury very quickly and make decisions about what care is needed next,” says Stawitz. He adds, “We know parents are scared, but in the moment, it’s essential to the child’s care for an athletic trainer to be able to focus, because time is important. Athletic trainers are also CPR-certified, and trained to recognize signs and symptoms of more serious situations in seconds.”

If a strain, break, or fracture does occur, skip the ER and go to Excelsior Express Urgent Care, which specializes in muscles, bones, and joints. You can also schedule an appointment at, or call 716-250-9999. Excelsior Express is open until 9:00 pm on weeknights and until 6:00 pm on Saturdays.