DID YOU KNOW??
It’s been estimated that 30 million children in the United States participate in organized sports programs.
As more and more children participate in sports and recreational activities, there has also been increase in acute and overuse injuries.
Over one-third of school-age children will sustain an injury severe enough to be treated by a doctor. The yearly costs have been estimated to be as high as 1.8 billion dollars. Yikes!
There are a lot of factors that contribute to the vulnerability among children injuries which include:
• Children have a larger surface area to mass ratio
• Children have larger heads proportionately, thus creating off balance
• Children may be too small for protective equipment,
• Children’s growing cartilage may be more vulnerable to stresses, and
• Children may not have the complex motor skills needed for certain sports until after puberty
At AKPT, we see overuse injuries in youth athletes as they hit big growth spurts. As a result, during a growth spurt, muscles and other soft tissue do not elongate at the same rates that the bones are growing. These can lead to Apophysitis or strains at the Apophyses. I know some of you are reading this and saying… “What the heck is Apophysitis?”
Stop, Don’t google it! Apophysitis is essentially inflammation of the growth pates.
Where are the growth plates? Good question.
In our youth, growing plates are in the elbows, knees, ankles, hands, and shoulder. Essentially most, if not all, of your joints have growth plates.
The most common sites are at the knee (Osgood-Schlatter disease), at the heel (Sever’s disease) and at the elbow (Little League elbow). Continued stress to growth plates due to overuse/overactivity can lead to fracturing or avulsions. The most common complaint in youth athletes is non-traumatic knee pain.
As parents we need to be aware of the stresses sports put on our young athletes and take precautions where necessary to help our children grow strong and healthy while having a great time playing sports.
Here are 6 ways we can help prevent injuries in general for the young age group:
1. Pre-season physical examination and injury screens
2. Encourage schools to employ medical coverage at sporting events
3. Proper coaching
4. Adequate hydration
5. Proper equipment and field/surface playing conditions, and lastly…
6. Do not participate in year round sports
Give the kids a break! I know, it’s hard to hear.
However, young athletes need time to grow and heal after physical activity. Performing the same sport year round creates imbalances in their bodies.
Remember these are kids and kids need to have fun!