Preventing Overuse Injuries in Youth Athletes
Overuse injuries in youth athletes are on the rise. These have been reported to account for half of all youth sport injuries.
What’s The Difference?
Kids suffer from two different types of injuries when playing sports. The two types are acute and overuse injuries. An acute injury means that the injury happened as a result of a single trauma such as a sudden blow or a fall causing an injury like an ankle or wrist fracture. An overuse injury means that it didn’t happen as a result of one traumatic event, but happened from many events and repetitive stress over a period of time. Examples of this are things like tennis elbow, stress fractures, shin splints, or any sort of tendinitis.
Overuse Injuries Are PREVENTABLE!
The most important thing to know about overuse injuries is that the majority of them are preventable when proper measures are put in place.
Ensure A Proper Training Schedule
One of the best ways to prevent these injuries is to make sure your youth athletes have a proper training schedule. While it may seem like the more training the better, this will expose your child to increased stress, which can lead to over-training and subsequent injury due to a lack of physical preparedness. Your athlete should be training at the level of his or her capabilities, and not that of a professional athlete.
Gradually Increase Training Demands
It is also very important to make sure that increases in training activity occur gradually overtime, without a sharp rise. Most youth sports organizations advocate and encourage what is known as The 10% Rule. This means that any increases in training do not occur at a rate higher than 10% per week. Allowing for proper rest and recovery while also giving the body a chance to adapt to the increased training demands is key.
Prioritize REST And RECOVERY!
Arguably one of the most important ways of reducing overuse injuries is promoting proper rest and recovery. Let your youth athletes have at least one day off a week where they can rest their bodies mentally and physically. This means that they not only have a day off of any sort of training but also from the stress of school work.
It may not be very easy to fit in an entire day off of school work in a busy schedule of classes, especially while preparing for college, but this will undoubtedly be much more helpful than grinding through each week without a break. It’s important to understand that the body must be able to recover from both mental and physical stress in order to make progress in either domain. (For more on proper rest and recovery in youth athletes see our blog on this subject by clicking here!)
Take A Season Off
Another very important way of preventing overuse injuries is by letting your kids have at least one season off of their sport at a minimum per year. Let them focus on something like conditioning, which will help them improve but also not have to suffer the repetitive stress year round.
Remember, taking a break from their sport doesn’t mean they take a break from all activity. It’s still important to promote activity during the off season. However, taking a break from the pressures of organized activities and allowing kids to simply play, is a great way to avoid both overuse injury and mental burnout. (For more information on the benefits of a proper strength training program for youth athletes see our blog on this subject by clicking here!)
MIX IT UP
This next tip is a very hot topic nowadays, and for very good reason. This involves promoting your child’s activity in different sports. Not only will this enhance their athletic development in the long term, but at the same time this will help avoid the repetitive stress from just playing one sport.
Many parents make the the assumption that their children will have a higher chance of success if they focus on one sport all year round, but this assumption couldn’t be more wrong. The fact is that most successful college and professional athletes played multiple sports while growing up. Doing this allows an athlete to build better overall athleticism, and also avoid the dangers of dealing with an overuse injury (along with many other issues that will be covered in a future blog!).
No Injuries = More Play
Remember, the more you are able to keep your child active and without injury, the better chance of success they will have in athletics. It is imperative that precautions are taken to prevent all injuries, but more specifically the ones that are directly in your control, like overuse injuries.
Need PERSONALIZED help??
If you need help identifying or preventing overuse injuries in your youth athlete please reach out to us and we can help you with that!
CONTACT US to schedule a FREE DISCOVERY VISIT or FREE PHONE CONSULTATION so we can discuss your child’s unique situation and let you know what options are available to help them avoid sports injuries and enhance their athletic development!