Archive for November, 2013

Young Single-sport Athletes Prone to Injuries

If you want your kids to stay clear of sports injuries, send them out to play.

But don’t sign them up for a club team.

That’s the message from the newest study linking specialized training in young athletes to serious overuse injuries.

Children who spend nearly twice the amount of time in organized sports than in free play, and especially in a single sport, are more likely to become injured.Class AA-A Girls Soccer

“We found a significant relationship between intense training and overuse injuries.

These kids are stressing the same areas of the body without rest while their bodies are still developing,” said lead author Neeru Jayanthi, MD, Medical director of Primary Care Sports Medicine at Loyola University Health System, in an interview.

The new study found that young athletes age 8 to 18 who played more hours per week than their age – for example, an 8-year-old who played more than 8 hours per week – were more likely to be injured.

In addition, those who spend more than twice as much time in organized sports than in free play, whatever their age or sport, were more likely to be injured and have serious overuse injuries.

Typically, these injuries included stress fractures, osteochondral lesions, and low back stress fractures.

Jayanthi presented the results of the study on October 28, 2013, at the American Academy of Pediatrics annual meeting.

The study involved more than 1,200 child and adolescent athletes who came to one of two Chicago hospitals and affiliated clinics for either a sports-related injury or a sports physical.

The injured athletes tended to be slightly older than uninjured athletes, reported a higher average number of hours per week playing organized sports (11.3 vs. 9.4), and higher average hours per week in total sports activity including gym, free play, and organized sports activities (19.7 vs. 17.6).

Parents and coaches need to accept much of the responsibility for putting their children at risk for these overuse injuries, Jayanthi says.

“I believe that much of these injuries are driven by the intensity to improve skills, not just have fun,” he says.

“Kids will play for hours and figure out when enough is enough.

Intense training in a single sport for most of the year teaches skill development, but sets kids up for injury.

Youth sports should be about the kids, not adults.”

The bigger problem is that club teams allow the 10% of elite athletes to stay active, but “the other 90% of kids don’t do much of anything,” says Jayanthi.

“We need to incentivize the others to become more physically active.

We need more, not less, gym classes, and more avenues for free play in the community.”

That means changing the current culture about sports and fitness so there’s a positive, healthy environment for all.