As a sports medicine specialist and an orthopedic surgeon that treats youth sports injuries we are faced with two serious problems. They tend to be on opposite sides of the spectrum: The rise of childhood obesity and the parallel rise in pediatric sports injuries.
I would like to quote Dr. Lyle Micheli who is one of the leading sports medicine pediatric orthopedic surgeons and researchers in the world who practices at Boston Children’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts. This is from his article in the August, 2013 American Journal of Sports Medicine: Pediatric Sports Injuries An Age Comparison of Children Versus Adolescents.
Dr. Micheli states:
“As a solution to the growing epidemic of juvenile obesity, it must be a priority for health care providers, policy makers and researchers to promote athletic activities among American children. Participation in competitive youth athletics has grown steadily over the past 4 decades reflecting a general trend toward specialization and competition during childhood. Early sports competition and specialization, combined with lack of physical preparedness and or lack of free play, predispose the young child to significant sports injuries that may have long term sequelae both physically and emotionally. The early drive and intensity of youth sports not only sacrifice fun but also produce overuse injuries. The increased competitive element also exposes children to more serious sports related injuries such as concussions, physeal injuries and ACL tears.”
It’s important to teach our children the importance of a healthy diet and to promote physical fitness. It is also equally important as parents to make sure the amount and type of fitness is appropriate.
Exposing children to many different types of sports will help to reduce overuse injuries and promote the growth and development of multiple muscle groups. Teaching our children that fitness is a healthy part of our daily lives is also critical.