Keeping Kids in the Game

by TOI Admin November 8, 2016

How Young Athletes Can Avoid Overuse Injuries

In recent years, we have seen a sharp increase in the number of children engaging in intense, year-round training or specializing in a single sport. While this practice may lead to improved skill, development and performance, the young athlete thatspecializes in only one sport loses the opportunity to allow stressed body parts to rest and heal, often leading to overuse injuries. Overuse injuries occur when there is excessive stress and repeated use of the bones, muscles, or tendons and adequate time is not taken to allow the injured tissue to heal. The mindset of playing through pain is common in athletes, parents, and coaches; there are a few clues that a seemingly minor ache may signal over-use injuries that may require medical attention:

> Pain in a muscle, tendon, or bone during games or practices (even if the child is able to play).
> Pain that continues after a game or practice.
> Pain that prevents the athlete from performing at his or her typical level.
> Pain that causes an alteration in the child’smechanics or gait in order to participate.
> Constant or chronic pain, even when not playing.

Taking Responsibility

Children typically follow the lead of their parents and coaches when it comes to playing sports. As adults, parents and coaches are driving them to practices, equipping them, teaching proper techniques, as well as instilling mindset and attitude toward the sport. These are the main people who can help children avoid overuse injuries.

Focusing on your young athlete's training schedule, nutrition, and athletic equipment may help parents and coaches avoid the development of overuse injuries. Limiting intense training and varying specific exercises from day to day allow stressed tissues time to heal. Proper technique is also critical in avoiding overuse injuries, as slight changes in form may be the culprit. Causes of overuse injuries can also be a result of
competitive pressures, parental priorities, and a sense of not wanting to  let the team down.

Let's Remember Why Kids Play Sports in the First Place

Important benefits to sports participation in the youth population include the opportunity for children to interact with one another and to inspire excitement in working to reach personal or team goals. The athlete's goals must be made a priority, even at the expense of those of parents and coaches. With proper guidance and encouragement, the reward of sports participation can be a vital part of a child's development. Avoiding overuse injuries and burnout are important aspects ofsuccessful athletic involvement. Parents and coaches can play a huge role in their child's opportunity to fulfill the foremost purpose of sports; to have fun.

What is an overuse injury?

Overuse injuries occur when thereis excessive stress and repeateduse of the bones, muscles, ortendons and adequate time is nottaken to allow the injured tissueto heal.

Important Stats

> Recent statistics from Safe Kids, USA state more than 3.5 million children under the age of 14 treatedannually for sports injuries.
> Overuse injuries are responsible for as many as half of all sports injuries in the United States.
> According to the CDC, more than half of all sports injuries in children are preventable.
> 62 percent of organized sports-related injuries occur during practice, one-third of parents donot have their children take the same safety precautions at practice that they would during a game.2Safe Kids, USA

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