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McPhersonSentinel - McPherson, KS
  • Sports specialists — Opinion: Danger is too great

  • Year in and year out, youth take to fields and courts from sun up to sundown throughout all the seasons of the year.
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  • Year in and year out, youth take to fields and courts from sun up to sundown throughout all the seasons of the year.
    In recent years, the implementation of year- round athletic participation, albeit from the wide range of different sporting events, has taken effect, thus eliminating the ever- important offseason for young growing bodies.
    Overuse injuries, overtraining, and burnout among child and adolescent athletes are a growing problem in the United States.
    It is estimated 30 to 45 million youth 6 to 18 years of age participate in some form of athletics. Sports participation is more accessible to all youth, from recreational play and school activities, to highly organized and competitive traveling teams.
    As more children become involved in organized and recreational athletics, the incidence of overuse injuries multiplies.
    An overuse injury is damage to a bone, muscle or tendon that has been subjected to repetitive stress without sufficient time to heal.
    The incidence of overuse injuries in the young athlete has paralleled the growth of youth participation in sports.
    Up to 50 percent of all injuries seen in pediatric sports medicine are related to overuse.
    Many children are participating in sports year round and sometimes on multiple teams concurrently.
    Overtraining usually leads to burnout, which has a detrimental effect on the child participating in sports toward lifelong healthy activity.
    The American Academy of Pediatrics Council on Sports Medicine and Fitness recommends limiting one sporting activity to a maximum of five days per week with at least one day off from any organized physical activity.
    In addition, athletes should have at least two to three months off per year from their particular sport during which they can let injuries heal, refresh the mind, and work on strength and conditioning in hopes of reducing injury risk.
    Along with overuse injuries, if the body is not given enough time to regenerate and refresh, a youth may be at risk of “burnout.”
    The youth athlete will have fatigue, lack of enthusiasm about practice or competition, or difficulty with successfully completing usual routines when burned out.
    One major contributing factor to overtraining may be parental pressure to compete and succeed rather than a youth wanting to participate merely because it is fun.
    As a youth athlete many years ago, thankfully I was encouraged to have fun first in my sporting ventures. If it was not fun, then there was no point.
    We as parents, coaches, and mentors need to keep clear sight on what is most important, the health of a young athlete and the enjoyment of the athletics.
    1. Dalton SE. Overuse injuries in adolescent athletes. Sports Med.1992;13 :58– 70
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