The American Medical Society for Sports Medicine identifies overuse injury as a repetitive motion associated type of injury that can occur primarily in long bone structures of the arms and legs. This can happen particularly along the areas of the bones and joints where tendons and ligaments attach, especially along the growth plates. Often seen are stress fractures, Achilles tendinitis, runner’s knee, shin splints, or pitchers elbow. Signs and symptoms would include localized pain and decreased performance. Kids in an active growth spurt are more susceptible.
Conditioning is crucial in preparing for the season, not only to gain the ability to remain on the pitch, but it also acclimates the young athletes’ body to gradually build strength. Practice should include conditioning which increases intensity in distance and duration of activity by 10% each week.
Warm up and stretching are also very important before practice or games. Do this with 10 minutes of light jogging or other light activity along with stretching major muscle groups, holding position for 20-30 seconds at a time. Make rest a priority, taking 1-2 days off each week from any given sport is essential in allowing our bodies to recuperate and heal.
Mix up sports by playing a variety of types of sport which help balance muscle development. Cross train in other sports throughout the year.
If an injury should occur or be suspected, teach your young athlete to make certain to speak up to his/her coach and parents. Do not play injured. Any athlete who suffers an injury should not return to play until cleared by their physician.
For additional information go to WWW.SAFEKIDS.ORG or WWW.STOPSPORTSINJURIES.ORG. Also, Valley Children’s Hospital Sports Medicine expert, Dr. Kerry Loveland has a video on overuse injury found on YouTube, which is embedded below.
Remember, play hard, play safe.