Are Sports Too Demanding on Youth?


There has been a trend of increased adolescent athletic injuries in recent years.  Since 2000, there has been a five to seven fold increase in the number of injuries in youth sports.  This may be due to a shift in youth sports where specialization is often encouraged. Children play the same sport all year around with little rest or variety which can lead to overtraining and fatigue.  With overuse and repetitive trauma to growing bodies, kids may not be able to remain involved in their sport for very long.   As parents & health care practitioners, we are concerned that these children could be causing irreversible damage to their young, underdeveloped bodies. In order to avoid these types of injury, follow a few simple steps:

  1. Maintain fitness levels: Start training before the season starts.  A general level of fitness should be maintained during the off season.
  2. Avoid over-specialization: If possible, try to stay involved in various sports at a younger age to encourage the development of all muscle groups.
  3. Train properly: Learn proper techniques from a qualified professional to ensure you are using proper muscles and not over stressing the body.
  4. Build up slowly: More is not always better.  Avoid rapid increases with intensity, duration or frequency of training.
  5. Be particularly aware of “injury pain”: “No pain, no gain” is not true for youth sports.  Pay attention to aches and pains and seek the advice of health care professionals when pain persists.
  6. Respect your body’s need for rest: Maintain a balance between work and rest to avoid overuse.

Early recognition of an overuse injury is the key.  Make sure to consult your physical therapist if you are concerned about an overuse injury.  Prevention is important, but early recognition and treatment will help keep kids active and involved in the activities they love.