How to Prevent Overuse Injuries in Youth Sports
What is an overuse injury?
An overuse injury is the result of a physical movement that is repeated often, such as throwing a ball or swinging a bat. Single sport athletes are at high risk for overuse injuries. This is because they do not incorporate different muscles during play and practice for too many hours a week without a break. Nearly 35 million children play an organized sport. Of those athletes, 3.5 million of them are under 14 years old and are receiving treatment for sports injuries. Almost half of those children are being treated for overuse injuries. Children are not just mini versions of adults, they have a different physiology requiring special attention and care.
What are common injuries in sports?
Injuries happen in sports, but there are certain injuries medical providers see more of in specific sports. Most common sports injuries in children include, but are not limited to:
● Soccer with knee and ankle injuries
● Baseball with shoulder and elbow injuries linked to pitching
● Gymnastics with back, elbow and ankle injuries
● Basketball with jumper’s knee
● Volleyball with jumper’s knee
● Running with plantar fasciitis and knee injuries
● Tennis with elbow injuries
If a physical activity or movement is repeated consistently, then those parts of the body do not have enough time to heal between playing. Overuse examples include:
● Achilles tendinitis
● Shin splints
● Stress fractures
● Osgood-Schlatter disease (knee pain)
● Throwing injuries in the elbow
● Jumper’s knee
● Sever’s disease
What are the risk factors?
Some major indicators of potential overuse injuries include pain, fatigue, and discomfort that lingers for more than a few days. Some other risk factors include, but are not limited to:
● Prior injuries
● Growth spurt
● Higher training volumes
● Inadequate rest and overscheduling (more than one sport and/or league at a time)
What are some signs and symptoms of an overuse injury?
Parents and coaches should be aware of the more common signs of overuse injury to ensure the athletes continue to play long term. These include, but are not limited to:
● Pain that increases with activity
● Changes in form or technique
● Decreased interest in practice
How do I prevent an overuse injury from occurring?
Below is a list of 10 prevention measures parents/coaches/guardians/etc. take while your young athlete is participating in sports.
1. Talk with your young athlete about their experiences.
2. Encourage cross-training and a variety of sports.
3. Emphasize proper technique and guidelines.
4. Stress the importance of warming up.
5. Get a preseason physical.
6. Provide a healthy, well-balanced diet.
7. Emphasize hydration.
8. Make sure they rest.
9. Get the proper equipment.
10. Recognize injury and get help early.
Call today or schedule your individual phone consultation with a Doctor of Physical Therapy. You may also book for an appointment today.