Kids’ Sports: How to Avoid Overuse Injuries

Slow things down so injuries can resolve
Child holding soccer ball meditating to avoid overuse injury from sports

Kids’ injuries have gone beyond fractures, sprains and concussions. Today, there is an epidemic in youth sports: overuse injuries, caused by too much activity, with too little rest.

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Overuse injuries are responsible for nearly half of all sports injuries in middle and high school students, according to American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. It’s an issue I deal with regularly.

Overuse injuries take time to heal

Children show up at my office with persistent pain and inflammation and other conditions that can become nagging injuries which don’t resolve quickly.

These factors are contributing to injuries:

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  • Early specialization in specific sports.
  • Immature bones with open growth plates.
  • Poor training or conditioning.
  • Insufficient rest after an injury.

You might be surprised about all the long-range effects injuries can have on kids, including:

  • Loss of sports participation (and resulting inactivity).
  • Lower academic performance.
  • Higher risks for depression and smoking.
  • Potential for future osteoarthritis and obesity.

How to prevent overuse injuries

The good news is that there are things we can do to help stop sports injuries in children, including encouraging kids to:

Remain active during the off-season. Deconditioning is a common thread running through all sports-specific injuries because overuse injuries develop when new sports require different repetitive activities.

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Guard against nonstop training. While staying active is important, I advise moderation because most kids don’t need to be pushed to train year-round in a single sport. They just need to play. Children will know when they’ve been active enough.

Rotate through different sports. By doing this, kids can discover which ones they like, rather than being forced to remain in one. Injuries result when kids are not fully engaged or are unwilling participants in a sport.

By teaching your kids to play safe and aware, you can help them lengthen their athletic careers, improve teamwork, reduce obesity rates and create a lifelong love of exercise and healthy activity.

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