Is your child athlete overtraining?
What you might not know about young athletes and overuse injuries
There has been a sharp increase in recent years in the number of children who are engaging in intense, year-round training or practicing in a just one single sport. While this may lead to improved skill, development and performance, a young athlete who specializes in only one sport loses the opportunity to allow stressed body parts to rest and heal, which can often lead to overuse injuries. 30 to 45 million U.S. children between the ages of six to 18 play organized sports. Children and adolescents may be particularly at risk for sports-related injuries according to the American Family Physician (AFP) journal. Overuse injuries can occur when there is excessive stress and repeated use of the bones, muscles, or tendons used in that sport and the appropriate time necessary for proper healing and rest isn’t taken to allow for the injury to heal.
What Is An Overuse Injury?
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.
How Do I Know If My Child May Have An Overuse Injury?
Below are a few points that just a seemingly minor ache may signal an overuse injury that may require medical attention:
- Pain in a muscle, tendon, or bone during games or practices (even if the child is still able to play)
- Pain that continues long after a game or practice
- Pain that prevents the child (or adult as well,) athlete from performing at his or her typical level
- Pain that causes an alteration in the child’s mechanics or gait in order to participate
- Constant or chronic pain, even when he or she is not playing
- Recent statistics from Safe Kids, USA state that more than 3.5 million children under the age of 14 are treated annually for sports injuries.
- Overuse injuries are responsible for half of all sports injuries in the United States.
- According to the CDC, more than half of all sports injuries in children are completely preventable.
62% of organized sports-related injuries occur during practice because one-third of parents do not have their children take the same safety precautions at practice that they would during a game.
When a young athlete repeatedly complains of pain, a period of rest from the sport is necessary. If pain persists, it is important to seek proper medical treatment. To ensure the best possible recovery, athletes, coaches, and parents must follow safe guidelines for returning to the game.
The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS) recommends the following tips to prevent overuse injuries as a result of your child playing sports:
- Limit the number of teams in which your child is playing in one season. Kids who play on more than one team are especially at risk for overuse injuries.
- Do not allow your child to play one sport year round — taking regular breaks and playing other sports is essential to skill development and injury prevention.
If you think your child may be experiencing excessive stress or overuse of a part of the body, give us a call at (972) 771–8111 to schedule a medical evaluation or to speak with one of our qualified Sports Medicine specialists. Our medical staff is always here to help!