Overuse injuries among young athletes may have long-term effects


January 9, 2014

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Overuse injuries among young athletes may have long-term effects

A new report from the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine found that overuse injuries and burnout are becoming more common among young athletes due to the increasing emphasis on organized sports and competition.

Many young athletes are feeling pressured to compete at an elite level for success, including college scholarships, but it may be hurting them in the long run. This mounting pressure is causing young athletes to start training at a high-intensity at a younger age, which may lead to overexertion. According to the report, overuse injuries comprise more than 50 percent of common sports injuries.

"Children grow and mature at different rates, making chronologic age a poor barometer for parents and coaches to set expectations and gauge progress," said John DiFiori, the study's lead author. "Understanding this can be critical to a child's self-esteem and motivation to continue participating."

The report also found several risk factors influenced the rate of overuse injuries among young athletes, such as a history of prior injury. Researchers also warned against early sport specialization, which makes child athletes more susceptible to overexertion and burnout, and suggested that children cross-train in a variety of sports.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 2.6 million children are treated in the emergency room each year for a sports-related injury. As the number of sports injuries, such as tears and sprains to the anterior cruciate ligament, continues to increase among young athletes, injury prevention for children has become a major focal point for sports medicine specialists. One way young athletes can guard against injury during the sports season is by practicing year-round conditioning. The National Institutes of Health also recommends that children perform warm-up and cool-down exercises after every sports practice and game, which will help with overall flexibility and agility.


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