Keep Young Athletes Healthy

by Dan Mahoney, LAT, ATC, PES, Combine360 Certified Trainer

A growing epidemic of preventable youth sports injuries is decimating kids’ athletic hopes and dreams at an early age. Nearly half of all sports injuries that occur — more than 5 million annually — are due to overuse.

You might hear a story like this: An 11-year-old girl participates in soccer practices and games year round, plays on a travel club team, the local middle school team, and goes home at night and trains in her back yard. Then due to the stress on her still developing body, she suffers and injury to her knee that prevents her from playing the sport she loves. Her injury does not just affect her life now, but may keep her from learning the lifelong lessons that sports participation teaches. This is an all too common phenomenon that happens to youth athletes.

April is Youth Sports Safety Month, so the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine and the STOP Sports Injuries campaign would like to share some simple tips to keep kids on the field and out of the examination room:

  1. Get a pre-season physical.
  2. Properly warm up and cool down before and after activity.
  3. Perfect practice makes perfect play. Get instruction on proper training and technique.
  4. Develop skills that are age appropriate.
  5. Increase training gradually.
  6. Don’t specialize in one sport.
  7. Don’t play year round ­– rest at the end of each season.Don’t play through pain – seek help if you are hurt.

Most overuse injuries are preventable, but if left untreated may require medical intervention and lost time from the playing field. Please listen to your body, and do not ignore the warning signs of injury. To learn more, visit STOP Sports Injuries, National Athletic Trainers Association, or The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Youth Sports Injuries page.