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Youth Sports and Overuse Injuries

Once a rarity, more kids developing chronic, overuse injuries during sports

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Updated June 21, 2014

The numbers of kids showing up in the doctor's office with overuse injuries, such as tendonitis, is climbing dramatically, according to Boston Children's Hospital. Nationally renowned orthopedic surgeon, Dr. James Andrews, said that he is seeing four times as many overuse injuries in youth sports than five years ago and more kids are having surgery for chronic sports injuries.

Experts attribute this increase to the fact that more youth today are specializing in one sport at an early age and training year-round. All these injuries can be linked to overuse; doing too much, too often. Gone are the days of switching to a new sport each season - the two or three-sport young athlete seems to be a things of the past as the competition, access and seasons expand to year-round.

This sports specialization seems to have come with a price. Playing a variety of different sports throughout the year was a form cross-training that was extremely beneficial to a young body's physical development. Playing multiple sports, at different times of the year gives some muscles a chance to rest while others are being worked. Now those same muscles and joints are used none-stop and have no recovery time.

Training the same muscles year-round is believed to be the main cause of the rise in overuse injuries in young athletes. The repetitive stress can cause young bodies to break down. When you stress the same body parts over and over again, there's a risk of injury.

Kids Should Play a Variety of Sports - Avoid Specializing in One Sport
Young athletes need to vary their training just like pros do. All pros have an off-season where they change their training routine and rest more. They still specialize in one sport, but they adjust their seasonal training to allow complete recovery. No one can go 100 percent in a sport year-round without risking injury or reduced performance.

Many physician’s who treat these injured kids feel that the solution is education for parents and coaches, so that they can see the warning signs and pull kids off the field before injuries get serious.

The American College of Sports Medicine has published Injury Prevention Guidelines for Young Athletes as a reference for kids, parents and coaches seeking to keep kids safe during sports.

Read more about:
Sports Medicine Issues for Children
Common Sports Injuries in Children
Treatment and Prevention of Children's Sports Injuries
Stress Fracture
Achilles Tendonitis
Overtraining

Sources:
The American College of Sports Medicine
Alabama Sports Medicine and Orthopedic Center

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