I am very excited to be partnering with the UHealth Sports Medicine Institute, part of the University of Miami healthy system, to bring you a 5-part series of sponsored posts on youth sports injuries. UHealth is paying me for these posts because they believe strongly in the importance of a safe youth sports experience for every young athlete.
Perhaps youth sports injuries are not uppermost in your thoughts as your child signs up for another season of sports. You’re thinking about things like buying uniforms, fundraising, and carpool rides to and from practice.
If you’re like most sports parents, you spend a lot of time and money making sure your child has the best equipment, the best coaching, and is playing on a team that will help him reach his potential.
But how much time and thought do you put into youth sports injuries?
I’ll admit, no one likes to go there because it seem like negative thinking. You don’t want to “jinx” your kids’ seasons and so you push the awful possibility to the back of your minds until you are forced–God forbid–to face it when/if your child gets injured.
For these next five months, I will be focusing on the top five youth sports fitness concerns–how you can encourage fitness and safety, and how you can avoid injury.
I am very excited to be working with a team of experts at the UHealth Sports Medicine Institute, part of the University of Miami Health System, not only because I’m a Canes fan, but because these folks know their stuff!
Top Youth Sports Injuries #1: Overuse Injuries
An overuse injury is damage to a bone, muscle, ligament, or tendon due to repetitive stress without allowing time for the body to heal.
Overuse injuries usually occur over time and can come on subtly. They are the result of repetitive micro-trauma to the tendons, bones and joints.
Each year, thousands of young athletes in the United States are diagnosed with overuse injuries; they constitute about half of youth sports injuries. This is happening more and more as young athletes are drawn–and often pushed–into sports specialization.
I’ve seen enough studies to know that there’s a direct link between sports specialization and overuse injuries. On top of that, the arguments against specialization also point out that it’s not mandatory for athletes who want to become elite athletes.
The bottom line is that specializing doesn’t really help preadolescents become elite, and it can harm them physically and emotionally.
Common examples of overuse injuries include:
- tennis elbow
- swimmer’s shoulder
- rotator cuff tendinitis
- little league elbow
- runner’s knee
- jumper’s knee
- Achilles tendinitis
- shin splints
Believe it or not, I recently experienced my own type of “overuse injury”when I started walking on hard pavement 5 days a week, 30-40 minutes a day, without working up to it. I’d been doing other exercises, but decided I wanted to get back to walking. Unfortunately, as an older adult, my overuse injuries can be provoked by much less stress than a young athlete’s!
But the similarity between my overuse injury and your child’s is that doesn’t always show up right away. It actually took 2-3 months for my “overuse injury” to show itself. And the same could happen to your child.
The key is to know ahead of time that overuse injuries are very real problems and that you can help prevent them. If you wait until the overuse injury becomes a problem, you’ve waited too long.
There are many voices today advocating change in amateur sports and while that continues, parents and coaches can take it upon themselves to follow some simple preventative methods and treatments. Here are five simple suggestions by Dr. Carolyn Kienstra, pediatric sports medicine expert at UHealth Sports Medicine Institute.
Overuse injuries can sneak up on you. As parents, take a look at the bigger picture of your children’s youth sports experience and be sure that they are not only enjoying the experience–which will keep them playing longer–but are taking proper care of their bodies so that they can enjoy a safer experience.