Sports is a wonderful way for children to develop self-confidence, teamwork, work ethic and respect and to learn how to overcome adversity… not to mention develop and maintain good physical fitness.
Unfortunately, in today’s competitive sports arena, with parents wanting their children to be the next Tom Brady, Clayton Kershaw, LeBron James, Alex Morgan or Serena Williams, children competing in youth sports are experiencing an overwhelming amount of overuse injuries. Youth athletes from the ages of 7 to 14 should be discouraged from playing the same sport year-round, in particular, sports that require overhead use such as baseball, swimming, tennis and quarterbacking to mention a few.
In fact, youth athletes should be encouraged to participate in multiple sports throughout the year in order to avoid repetitive use injuries. Similarly, those that play a specific year-round position (such as pitching) should take a three month break per year in order to rest. We must emphasize that at the crucial young ages of 7-14 as a child is developing their joints, tendons and ligaments are stressed enough as it is (growing pains) not to mention the same repetitive movement being done in weekly trainings and games. Some children are training in the same sport four-to-five days per week with as many as two-to-three games/events weekly.
The number one reason for injury is physical fatigue in their young bodies, which are simply not strong enough to take the stress that is placed upon it. Not to mention that these children also mentally fatigue, which contributes to sloppy mechanics, which can result in injury as well. The sport with the number one incidence of injuries is baseball, due to the overwhelming amount of overhead throwing in all positions, in particular pitchers and catchers. We have seen an alarming increase in shoulder and elbow injuries in baseball players from the ages of 7 to 14, all stemming from overuse and Improper body mechanics. We should reconsider putting our children through specific sports training as if they were professional athletes and let them play and enjoy the games as children should.
- Improper Body Mechanics
- Same Sport
- Underdeveloped muscles
- Minimize Activity
- At least 1 days rest before game
- Correct with proper training
- Play multiple sports
- Child/sport specific strengthening programs
Alex Pereda, DPT, is the owner-director at Florida Occupational Healthcare (FOHC). FOHC has a well-established reputation for delivering outstanding physical therapy services and is dedicated to providing the best clinical care possible. The clinic is located at 8585 Sunset Drive, Suite #103B, Miami, FL 33143. Please call 305-274-3311, or you can visit fohcpt.com for more information.