Preventing and Treating Youth Sports Injuries
When it comes to sports, today’s youth are much more involved than 30 years ago. Almost 70% of kids participate in individual and group sports. This is wonderful news on the heels of an obesity crisis as exercise helps kids better manage their weight. The challenge, however, is that kids are specializing in sports at an early age. This is often due to the time commitment the sport requires.
Over five million children under the age of 18 are treated for sports injuries annually. The majority are overuse injuries, caused by the repetitive motions made by youth who are still physically developing. A lack of proper recovery time in between practices can cause stress to the soft tissue and even the bones, which over time, can lead to injury.
How to Keep Youth Athletes Safe
In order to keep athletes safe, it is critical that parents take a proactive role. Sports physicals are the first step in identifying any potential issues that a particular sport may cause. If at all possible, don’t let kids specialize in one sport until high school. And even in high school, it is very beneficial to play a different sport each season as it gives the body a chance to rest and heal. It also cross-trains the body, which is great for injury prevention and sports performance.
Step number two involves knowing what to look for and when to seek treatment by a qualified provider. Teaching athletes to understand the difference between pain and discomfort is critical. Discomfort is normal and to be expected in sports. A perfect example is muscle soreness and fatigue. It may burn while exercising, but it doesn’t worsen with continued use. Pain, on the other hand, is sharp, radiating, and sometimes shooting. Swelling often accompanies pain and another telltale sign to stop is if pain worsens with continued use.
If your child is experiencing pain from a sports injury, contact our office for a recommendation of a physical therapist who specializes in the treatment of youth athletes. Depending on the issue, we may also recommend they see a pediatric orthopedist for further evaluation.
Safe sports begins at home. Laying the foundation for good sports hygiene by teaching the importance of nutrition, warming up and cooling down are excellent lessons for athletes of all ages. If your child is in sports, schedule a sports physical with their pediatrician today. If you have concerns about an existing or potential injury, please don’t delay scheduling an evaluation. We are here to help your athletes prevent sports injuries and when they do occur, properly treat them.