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How to Prevent Burnout in Young Athletes

Staying active is critical to children’s health as they grow up. In fact, the National Institute of Health recommends children and teenagers ages six through 17 get at least 60 minutes of daily activity. One of the best ways to encourage young people to be active is to play different sports. However, with the rise of club sports, travel leagues, and other elite playing organizations, young athletes have become pressured to play one sport year-round, leading to unprecedented levels of burnout. 

Burnout is a state of emotional and physical exhaustion, often caused by stress, overwork, or excessive pressure. At The Orthopaedic Institute, Dr. Harrison S. Mahon, M.D., has witnessed countless burnt-out children and a rise in injuries sustained from focusing on one sport. As a specialist in orthopedic surgery, he offers a few tips and injuries to monitor for in young athletes:

Ways to Prevent Athletic Burnout

One way to prevent burnout in young children and athletes is by ensuring they take care of themselves physically and mentally. As a parent or guardian, you should make sure they are getting enough sleep and eating a balanced diet. In addition, they should take time for themselves to relax and destress. 

Another effective way to counter burnout in young athletes is by encouraging children to play multiple sports. When children focus on just one sport, they can easily become bored or frustrated, often quitting before they reach their full potential. By playing many sports, children are more challenged, and it helps them develop different muscles and skills.

Playing one sport can also lead to overuse injuries, particularly sports involving the shoulder. For example, volleyball and baseball are two of the most commonly played sports year-round, both requiring repetitive shoulder motions. In Dr. Mahon’s experience, he has witnessed numerous shoulder injuries due to these intensive overhead movements.

Most Common Shoulder Injuries 

Among the most common shoulder injuries that Dr. Mahon has treated in young athletes include:

Shoulder Dislocation

The shoulder is a ball-and-socket joint made of the arm bone (humerus) and the shoulder blade (scapula). A shoulder dislocation occurs when the ball pops out of place from its socket. When this happens multiple times, the shoulder’s structures can stretch and tear, leading to shoulder instability. 

Rotator Cuff Tear

The rotator cuff is a group of four muscles that join together as tendons to attach the head of your humerus to the shoulder blade. The rotator cuff enables you to lift and move your arm freely. When a rotator cuff tear occurs, one or more of the tendons partially or completely detaches from the head of the humerus, causing significant pain and instability.  

Labral Tear

The labrum is a ring of fibrous cartilage that surrounds the shoulder joint, keeping the joint stable and acting as a cushion between the head of the humerus and the shoulder blade socket. A labral tear occurs when this cartilage tears or becomes damaged. This condition can cause discomfort and a clicking or popping sensation in the shoulder.

Bursitis and Tendonitis 

Two of the most common overuse injuries regarding the shoulder are bursitis and tendonitis. Bursitis is inflammation of the bursa, a small sac of fluid that cushions your joints, while tendonitis is inflammation of the tendons, the tissues that connect muscle to bone. Both inflammatory conditions can cause pain, tenderness, and stiffness.

Ways to Avoid Shoulder Injuries 

Shoulder injuries can be easily prevented by following these helpful tips: 

  • Warm up before exercising
  • Take adequate time to rest 
  • Follow proper form 
  • Try different activities 

Make an Appointment with Dr. Mahon at The Orthopaedic Institute 

If your child has recently injured their shoulder or any other body part while participating in sports or other activities, make an appointment with Dr. Mahon at The Orthopaedic Institute. Dr. Mahon is a board-eligible orthopedic surgeon who specializes in: 

Dr. Mahon pursued these specialties because he is passionate about getting patients of all ages back to their favorite activities, whether on the volleyball court or the baseball field. With a caring bedside manner and exemplary training, Dr. Mahon can help identify the best treatment option for each individual patient. 

Dr. Mahon is a board-eligible orthopaedic surgeon who specializes in Orthopaedic Surgery, Sports Medicine, Arthroscopic Surgery, Joint Replacement.

Dr. Mahon chose his specialty because he enjoys helping patients of all ages return to their favorite activities.

What sets him apart as a physician is his caring nature and excellent training. He enjoys teaching patients about their injury or condition and helping them decide which treatment option is best for them.

Outside of work, he enjoys golf, college football, traveling, and spending time with his wife and family.

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