As a parent, it’s easy to go “all-in” on a sport your child really enjoys or excels in. But studies are showing that playing the same sport for three or more seasons of the year is resulting in a spike in overuse injuries in young athletes. While sudden trauma injuries are immediately apparent, overuse injuries appear gradually and can be easy to miss. What can you do to prevent serious injury if your son or daughter has become a “one-sport” athlete and how do you spot trouble? The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) and the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine (AOSSM) have created The One-SportTM campaign to answer that question and to guide parents and coaches.
Following the guidelines below will help kids get the most out of their sport while reducing risk of injury.
PHYSICAL – It’s a good idea to have your child visit their doctor for a physical before their season starts to screen for, diagnose and treat any conditions.
WARM UP & COOL DOWN – Gradually increasing the heart rate before exercise and allowing a gradual decrease after is important. During warm up and cool down, give a proper amount of time to stretch muscles gently.
HYDRATE– Taking a water break at least every 30 minutes (or more often depending on weather and activity) is key to preventing cramps and muscle spasms.
PROPER EQUIPMENT – Always use proper equipment when participating in a sport. Be sure all gear fit well, are in good condition and are checked on a weekly basis.
GRADUAL TRAINING INCREASE & INSTRUCTION – You wouldn’t jump in the deep end at your first swim lesson for the same reason you shouldn’t train to extremes from the start. Allow your child to gradually increase the intensity of their training as their skills and strength grow. Look to coaches and trainers for guidance on correct form and appropriate exercises suited to your athlete’s ability.
BREAKS AND REST – The most important lesson to teach kids during training is how to listen to their bodies and take a break when necessary. Until they learn how, adults should encourage scheduled rests during training or competition, plus rest days during the week to allow their bodies to recover.
Don’t miss the signs of overuse. Early action can prevent long term effects on performance or quality of life. Take action if you notice any of the following:
- Isolated pain when using a body part
- Sleep disruptions
- Preference to put weight on one side of the body rather than another
- Numbness or tingling in extremities
- Headaches during or after training or competition
- Stiffness in joints or muscles
- Unusual weakness
- Presence of blisters or irritate skin
If you see the presence of any of these signs, call one of our orthopedic and sports medicine specialists as soon as possible. With early evaluation and intervention, you can prevent injuries that can have life-long implications.
For more information on The One-SportTM campaign, visit www.stopsportsinjuries.org.