Youth sports has been on the rise and kids are starting sports at an even younger age. Training and practices have become more and more intense with more pressure on the kids to perform at a higher levels. Did you know that most competitive youth sports teams are now hiring professional coaches making professional salaries. They depend on their teams performing well and keeping their players healthy.
Overtraining and overuse has become a huge problem for young growing children who are participating in these very regimented intense sports teams. The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests 9 ways that youth can help prevent overuse injuries:
- Take time off. Plan to have at least 1 day off per week and at least one month off per year from training for a particular sport to allow the body to recover.
- Wear the right gear. Players should wear appropriate and properly fit protective equipment such as pads (neck, shoulder, elbow, chest, knee, shin), helmets, mouthpieces, face guards, protective cups, and/or eyewear. Young athletes should not assume that protective gear will prevent all injuries while performing more dangerous or risky activities.
- Strengthen muscles. Conditioning exercises during practice strengthens muscles used in play.
- Increase flexibility. Stretching exercises after games or practice can increase flexibility. Stretching should also be incorporated into a daily fitness plan.
- Use the proper technique. This should be reinforced during the playing season.
- Take breaks. Rest periods during practice and games can reduce injuries and prevent heat illness.
- Play safe. Strict rules against headfirst sliding (baseball and softball), and spearing (football), and checking in hockey should be enforced.
- Stop the activity if there is pain.
- Avoid heat injury by drinking plenty of fluids before, during and after exercise or play; decrease or stop practices or competitions during high heat/humidity periods; wear light clothing.
Specific injury prevention programs for strengthening weak muscle groups and known problem area have been developed and are used here at Utah Physical Therapy. Following these steps along with an individualize exercise program can drastically reduce the chances of injury. Coaches, parents, and the kids can all benefit and keep our youth healthy and playing at their best.
Mitch Lillywhite, DPT
Utah Physical Therapy, West Haven
“2016 Sports Injury Prevention Tip Sheet.” 2016 Sports Injury Prevention Tip Sheet. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Nov. 2016