Playing Too Much: Overuse Injuries in Young Athletes
By Donna Kostiew
As a parent, I know how scary it can be seeing your child hurt during a sports activity or practice. I have two daughters myself who have both been hurt seriously enough that they have, at one point or another, needed to stop doing what they love. It’s great if your child is lucky enough that they won’t ever have to take a break, but for many, injuries just seem to be a consistent part of the game.
Overuse injuries are some of the most common affecting our children today, and the most important step we can take is to help our young athletes listen to their bodies and understand that there are factors for both success and failure. The daily overuse of any body part will potentially not only lead to injuries, but can also contribute to problems and pain that can last for years.
Factors That Lead to Overuse Injuries
- The bones of children/young teenagers are still growing and are particularly susceptible
- There is greater specialization in one sport, and at younger ages
- The training programs, in addition to the sport itself, have become more demanding
- Children often return to practice before an injury has fully healed
- Young athletes are not sufficiently trained in injury prevention
Overuse injuries affect muscles, ligaments, tendons, bones and growth plates. The symptoms of a possible overuse injury are pain, tenderness, decreased range of motion, loss of sensation, numbness and loss of strength.
By following a program that includes regular chiropractic care, you can help to reduce the chance of overuse injuries from happening and minimize the length of recovery time for your child.
How Does Chiropractic Care Help?
Chiropractic care is designed to prevent these kinds of injuries as well as to treat them, and provides the following benefits to our up-and-coming athletes.
- Supports proper alignment of the body to reduce the risk of injury
- Improves flexibility which provides an increased range of motion
- Helps patients regain their strength and mobility
- Delivers relief from pain without the use of medication/invasive treatments
So what’s a parent to do? Avoid having your child specialize in a single sport before the age of 14 if you can. If your children are stuck on one sport though, encourage them to at least cross-train when not on the field or mix their off-field workouts up a bit. It is also important to teach your child how to prevent injuries with proper stretching and warm-ups, and to make sure they know how to recognize an overuse injury. Last but not least, and if they can, have them take some time off as well … even if it is just one day a week. Children respond great to chiropractic adjustments so don’t forget to include that in their training program as well!
To learn more about your health and wellness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Scottsdale, Ariz.