Overuse Injuries in Young Athletes
Participation in youth sports can be an enjoyable experience for children and adolescents with many potential benefits. It offers opportunities for peer socialization, the development of self-esteem, leadership qualities, and also promotes health and fitness. However, the increasing highly competitive nature of youth sports has fueled trends of extensive training, sport specialization, and participation in large numbers of competitive events at young ages. Consequently, overuse injuries and burnout have become common. Burnout is basically a result of overtraining or overreaching for these young athletes. Burnout can also cause chronic stress that may result in the young athletes’ desire to stop participating in a sport that they once loved. The athlete then withdraws from the sport. There is data that suggest that athletes who specialize in one sport early in their careers, tend to withdraw from that sport because of injury or burnout from the sport. This could be a result of continuous participation in practices, games, camps, tournaments and other activities associated with the chosen sport without any time off for rest and recuperation throughout the year.
To help reduce the chances of burnout, there should be more emphasis placed on skill development and not competition. Getting young athletes involved in pre-season strength and condition programs, as well neuromuscular programs will help with reducing injuries to the lower body. Most of all just limiting the amount of time that a young athlete spends participating in one sport will pay huge dividends. First of all it will allow the athlete to rest and also address any injuries that may have occurred during the previous season. This time could also be used for the athlete and his or her parents to decide if this is the right sport for them or if participating in another sport could be beneficial for their long term success.