How to Prevent Overuse Injuries for Your Youth AthleteApril 16, 2015
April is National Youth Sports Safety Month!
Young athletes today are very self-driven to become better. And while it’s common to encourage an athlete to continually push past their very best to help them improve, as a physical therapist, I’ve seen youth athletes come in because they’ve been pushed their bodies to perform more than they may be ready for. Talking to some of our young athletes in the clinic, I found out that they practice for 2 hours, sometimes up to 4-6 hours, a day for one specific sport!
Whether it is swimming, running track, dance or playing baseball, these youth athletes are performing their activities for excessive hours in one day with one repetitive movement or sport. Some even are playing in high school AND club sports PLUS private lessons with their coaches. Our bodies were not meant to perform one type of sport for the disproportionate amounts of time that most dancers and soccer players are putting in. Kids used to play multiple sports with intramural, giving their bodies more muscle balance and diversity. However, we are beginning to see more overuse injuries and an increase in the number of surgeries. If youth athletes were allowed to diversify their sports and less pressured to be highly competitive with 1 sport, they would experience less pain and obtain fewer injuries.
As parents, coaches and physical therapists, a way we can support our athletes is to plan a more specific warm up routine to prevent overuse injuries.
- This routine will need to include multiple muscle exercises and improve our athletes as a whole vs. with just their throwing arm or one muscle group.
- The exercise routine will help them recover, be safe with exercise, and be appropriate for their progression depending on their body size and growth for them to improve their ability to participate in sports with fewer setbacks.
- See a physical therapist to learn ways to warm up, prevent injury and correctly stretch the necessary muscle groups to avoid strain & pain.
Don’t take me wrong – I am a very competitive type of person myself, but not at the cost of injuring myself. Let’s all try to be more conscious of how much our kids/nieces/nephews are practicing and not over using one muscle and incurring overuse injuries!