Nowadays many kids are focusing in on becoming very good in one sport. This often involves investing a considerable amount of time, effort and interest in this one sport. Additionally, many parents and teachers encourage a child to focus on one sport in order to develop a higher proficiency. Yet sports specialization comes with physical complications for some young athletes including a higher risk of youth sports injuries. When children begin to practice and compete year-round in only one sport, certain muscles and joints tend to become overworked and youth sports injuries are a serious risk.
Sports medicine physicians, orthopedics and others have noticed this trend in youth athletics. And researchers have studied the issues that may arise. Specifically, there was an excellent article published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine in April, 2015, written by Dr. Jayanthi. The article looked at 1,214 athletes. There were 822 injured participants and 368 uninjured participants. They found that the injured athletes were older than the uninjured athletes. Athletes that were older than 14 years of age were at a greater risk compared to athletes that were 12 years or younger.
Understanding Risk Factors for Youth Sports Injuries
Researchers also found that athletes that reported more total hours of physical activity, close to 20 hours per week, versus 17 hours a week, had a higher injury risk of youth sports injuries. Additionally, organized sporting activity was another risk factor for injury. If the athlete was participating in 11 hours per week of an organized sporting activity, they were at a higher risk for injury versus 9 hours per week.
In conclusion, this study found that young athletes participating in more sports per week, combined with an older age and a greater than 2 to 1 ratio for organized sports to free play time had increased odds of having a serious overuse injury. They also found that there was a correlation and statistically significant difference in athletes with a serious overuse injury who specialized in a single sport.
Louisville Sports Medicine Doctor Offers Info About Reducing the Risk for Youth Sports Injuries
Based on this article, Dr. Grossfeld recommends that young athletes compete in more than one organized sport throughout the year. Also, it’s beneficial to help reduce the risk of youth sports injuries from overuse by increasing the amount of time dedicated to free play. Basically, it is best to allow your child to try different sports and have less structured physical activity throughout the week. This will prevent the same muscles from becoming overworked and potentially damaged.
With the amount of youth sports injuries increasing, due to the level of competition and younger exposure to organized sports, it is beneficial for children to become well-rounded athletes.