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Young athletes and injury

Sports are an excellent way for children and teenagers to stay active, healthy and learn valuable life skills such as teamwork, discipline, and perseverance. However, young athletes are at risk of suffering from injuries due to the physical demands of their sports. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, sports injuries account for more than 3.5 million doctor visits and 2 million emergency room visits annually. Here are some of the most common injuries in young athletes and how to prevent them.

One of the most common injuries in young athletes is a sprain, which occurs when a ligament is stretched or torn. Sprains can happen in any sport, but they are particularly common in basketball, soccer, and volleyball. Another common injury is a strain, which occurs when a muscle or tendon is stretched or torn. Strains are more common in sports that require sudden bursts of movement, such as football, track and field, and gymnastics.

Overuse injuries are also common among young athletes. These injuries occur when an athlete performs the same motion repeatedly, leading to damage to muscles, tendons, and bones. Overuse injuries can happen in any sport, but they are particularly common in sports that involve running or jumping, such as track and field, basketball, and soccer.

There has been a concerning increase in non-contact injuries in sports in recent years. Non-contact injuries are those that occur without any direct contact with another player or object, such as an ACL tear or stress fracture. According to a study published in the Orthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine, non-contact injuries account for up to 70% of all sports injuries, with a higher incidence in sports such as soccer, basketball, and running. This increase in non-contact injuries may be due to several factors, including increased training intensity, inadequate warm-up, and poor technique. It is crucial for coaches and athletes to take measures to prevent non-contact injuries through proper training, warm-up, and technique, as well as to seek prompt medical attention if an injury occurs to prevent further damage.



To prevent sports injuries, young athletes should take the following steps:

  1. Warm-up properly before practice or competition. This should include stretching and light exercises to prepare the body for physical activity.

  2. Wear appropriate protective gear, such as helmets, pads, and mouthguards.

  3. Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water before, during, and after practice or competition.

  4. Take rest days and avoid overtraining.

  5. Maintain a healthy diet and get plenty of rest to help the body recover from physical activity.

Notice that “bad movement patterns” or “bad exercises” are NOT on this list. That is because up to date research shows no direct correlation between specific movements and injury risk. There is also very little evidence that certain exercises can PREVENT the risk. That is why getting examined by an expert can help. Injuries can have a significant impact on young athletes, causing them to miss days or weeks of school and sports activities. According to a study published in the Journal of Athletic Training, the average high school athlete misses 2.3 days of sports participation due to injury each year. Another study found that the average college athlete misses 16.7 days of sports participation due to injury each year.


This is where balcne comes into play. It is recommended that youth athletes engage in a moderate amount of physical activity, including participation in sports. We know this can be agreat way for kids to engage phyiscall and emotionally. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children and adolescents should engage in at least 60 minutes of physical activity per day, which can include participation in sports (7). However, it is important to note that excessive participation in sports can increase the risk of overuse injuries and burnout in youth athletes. The National Federation of State High School Associations recommends that youth athletes limit their participation in organized sports to no more than five days per week and no more than eight months per year to reduce the risk of injury and burnout (8).


By taking the appropriate preventative measures, young athletes can significantly reduce their risk of injury and stay healthy and active. If an injury does occur, it is essential to seek prompt medical attention to ensure proper diagnosis and treatment. Schedule at the link below to get an appt ASAP with Dr Jonas, or call the number.



References:

  1. American Academy of Pediatrics. (2019). Sports Injuries in Children. https://www.healthychildren.org/English/healthy-living/sports/Pages/Sports-Injuries-in-Children.aspx

  2. Agel, J., Arendt, E. A., Bershadsky, B., & Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injury Study Group. (2005). Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injury in National Collegiate Athletic Association Basketball and Soccer: A 13-Year Review. The American Journal of Sports Medicine, 33(4), 524–530. https://doi.org/10.1177/0363546504269937

  3. National Athletic Trainers' Association. (2022). Preventing Sports Injuries. https://www.nata.org/public-resources/preventing-sports-injuries

  4. Jayanthi, N. A., LaBella, C. R., Fischer, D., Pasulka, J., & Dugas, L. R. (2015). Sports-Specialized Intensive Training and the Risk of Injury in Young Athletes: A Clinical Case-Control Study. The American Journal of Sports Medicine, 43(4), 794–801. https://doi.org/10.1177/0363546514567298

  5. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. (2017). Sports Injuries. https://www.niams.nih.gov/health-topics/sports-injuries

  6. Stracciolini, A., Casciano, R., Levey Friedman, H., Meehan, W. P., Micheli, L. J., & d'Hemecourt, P. (2016). Pediatric Sports Injuries

  7. American Academy of Pediatrics. (2018). Sports Safety. https://www.healthychildren.org/English/safety-prevention/at-play/Pages/Sports-Safety.aspx

  8. National Federation of State High School Associations. (2022). 2022-23 High School Athletics Participation Survey Results. https://www.nfhs.org/media/1029963/2022-23-participation-survey-results.pdf


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