How to prevent overuse injuries in youth sports
So your child loves to play sports. They’ll practice and play as much as they can. But how much is too much? When are they at risk of an overuse injury? Pediatric sports medicine specialist Dr. Krystle R. Farmer shares tips to help keep your young athlete injury free – and in the game.
Meet the speaker
My name is Krystle Farmer and I'm one of the sports medicine physicians here at Cook Children's. Today I'd like to talk to you a little bit about overuse injuries, which are injuries that occur typically related to some type of chronic or repetitive stress to a particular part of the body. Overuse injuries are extremely common in pediatric sports. We see them very often in our practice. And in fact, about 50% of sports injuries are thought to potentially be secondary to overuse.
Pediatric skeletons are very susceptible to this type of injury, particularly because the growth plates in children are primarily made up of cartilage, which creates sort of a weak link in the bones of children. We're also seeing youth athletes become increasingly competitive at earlier and earlier ages, which often leads to children committing to a single sport when they're quite young. And this can sometimes lead to overtraining and subsequent injuries.
Some of the more common risk factors that we see in our athletes for overuse injuries are early sports specialization, participating in one sport year round, and participating with more than one team at the same time. The best treatment for most overuse injuries is rest. But this doesn't mean that the athletes can't do anything during that timeframe. We typically try to modify their workouts or allow them to cross train during the rest period, which is nice because it allows them to still be active but also eliminates whatever repetitive stress ultimately caused their injury.
Prevention is also very important and some of the more proactive things that you can do are to stretch regularly, go through a dynamic warmup before workouts, hydrate well, and also be sure to get adequate rest.
Some of the more common recommendations for rest are, to take one day off per week, three months off per year, and also to try not to train more than your age in hours per week for your sport. Which means that if you are an eight-year-old athlete, that you really should try not to exceed more than eight hours per week of training in your sport.
If you have any further questions about this topic, please be sure to visit your doctor or Cook Children's dot org for more information