Preventing Overuse Injuries in Student Athletes
Spring is here signaling the start of many season sports for student athletes which means lots of practices and playing time. No matter what sport your child plays, anything from tennis, baseball, soccer, lacrosse or even golf – prevent overuse injuries is key to keeping your kids in the game.
What Are Overuse Injuries?
Overuse injuries can occur from repetitive motions, such as pitching a baseball over and over, improper training or technique, or simply not letting the body rest long enough between practices and games. Athletes who focus on a single sport are more susceptible to these types of injuries that can often include swelling and inflammation or lead to fractures and tendinitis. Overuse injuries that aren’t addressed can lead to more serious injuries, longer-term damage and missed playing time.
Recommendations To Prevent Overuse Injuries
To keep your kids injury free, The American Medical Society For Sports Medicine guidelines include:
- Not excessively focusing on intensive training and competition too early without the necessary skill development or preparing for for the sport. Pre-season conditioning programs that build skills and strengthen the proper muscles can help reduce the rates of injury.
- The hours per week your child spends playing a sport should not exceed their age. For example and 8 year old should not spend more than 8 hours a week playing or practicing one particular sport.
- Free play is still important. In fact they recommend the time spent on free play each day should be twice as much as time spent on sports. So if your child plays one of hour of sports per day, ideally they should have two hours of free play over the course of the day.
- Parent’s should monitor their child’s growth carefully and limit excessive sports practices and games during growth spurts when there in an increased risk of injury.
- Don’t over-schedule your child. Make sure they aren’t playing too many sports and have time to rest. This helps them physically but also mentally and can avoid burnout.
Diagnosing Overuse Injuries
Overuse injuries happen over time and parents may not be always be able to tell the difference between regular muscle aches and pains or something more serious.
If you suspect your child is suffering from an overuse injury, or they are becoming burned out and at risk for an injury, don’t be afraid to talk to their coach and request a less intense schedule. A good coach knows overtraining can be dangerous and lead to serious injury and missed playing time. Safety of the athletes should be the primary concern.
Don’t let an un-diagnosed injury lead to something more serious. Make an appointment with Dr. Goradia, orthopedic surgeon and sports medicine specialist, for an evaluation. Dr. Goradia works with athletes around Central Virginia and treats them with the least invasive methods possible to get them back in the game quickly.