Recognize and Look Out For Injuries in Your Young Athletes
It’s great to see so many young athletes participating in sports and other physical activities. Being on the frontline of the games and sports your children compete in, we know that the competition is tough and the pressure to succeed only increases with age. So we’ve compiled a guide to help you identify, recognize, and prevent injuries that your young athlete might face throughout their career, including advice from one of our sports medicine specialists, Dr. Julianne Forlizzi.
Overuse Injuries and How They Can Impact Your Young Athlete
A common misconception that most parents, athletes, and coaches have is that the earlier that an athlete specializes in a sport, the better chance they will have at playing at a higher level in college and professionally. However, this is not the case. Early sport specialization can lead to an increased risk of injury and burnout. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons found that overuse injury in children can impact their quality of life and game negatively. One study found that single-sport athletes report twice as many injuries than multisport injuries.
Why Rest is Essential For Your Young Athlete
Participating in the same sport year-round can take a toll on the muscles and joints that are being used with the same repetitive movement. The American Academy of Pediatrics and National Athletic Training Association recommends that specialized athletes take at least 3 non-consecutive months off during a year in 1-month intervals. Not only can early specialization in sports take a toll on your young athlete’s well-being. In a study published in the American Journal of Sports, it was found that early specialization can increase burnout, anxiety, depression, and may lead to attrition from physical activity entirely. This study also found that young athletes that participate in more hours of organized sport per week than their age have an increased risk of an overuse injury. In addition to resting for a month throughout the year, young athletes are also advised by the American Academy of Pediatrics to take 1-2 days off per week to ensure adequate recovery.
5 Tips To Recognize and Help Prevent Injuries
Cross Train: By participating in multiple sports, your child is not only using different movements but also increasing overall coordination and adaptability.
Limit Training: The number of hours your child should train per week should not exceed their age. For example, if your child is 10 years old they should not be training more than 10 hours a week.
Watch For Signs: Be able to recognize when your child starts to behave outside of the norm. These signs may indicate that their body is overworked, nursing an overuse injury, or are experiencing burnout.
Address Their Pain: Your child’s pain level should not be more than a 5 out of 10 on a pain scale. Likewise, they shouldn’t be complaining of pain at rest or with everyday activities, as well as modifying their technique to fight through the pain. If this persists, they should be removed from play.
Perspective: Due to the competitive nature of youth sports, it’s easy to forget that sports can help develop interpersonal skills that your child can use for the rest of their life such as teamwork, communication, work ethic, etc. Most importantly youth sports are all about having fun and getting some exercise!
Advice From One of Our Sports Medicine Specialists: Dr. Julianne Forlizzi
“Athletics are a great way for children and adolescents to stay active, establish routines, and develop coordination. As children get older sports will undoubtedly become more competitive. Remember the primary goals of having fun and learning life lessons including teamwork. Cross-training, meaning participating in more than one sport, is immensely helpful in development and will help prevent repetitive/overuse injuries, especially in patients with open growth plates. Stretching before and after competition will help keep muscles and tendons loose and ready for action the next day.”