Youth sports injuries have been on the rise for some time. One factor contributing to this trend is the increased focus of parents and kids on excelling in particular sports to gain access to good colleges and universities, now that competition for acceptance to higher education has become so fierce. When kids are focusing on one sport and not cross-training, they are more likely to suffer overuse injuries. Sometimes, acute injuries go untreated for too long because a player does not want to appear weak, or unable to participate.
In 2008, the American Orthopedic Society for Sports Medicine (AOSSM) launched The STOP Sports Injuries Campaign in an effort to combat the rise in youth sports injuries. AOSSM is a world leader in sports medicine education, research, communication and fellowship, and includes national and international orthopaedic sports medicine leaders.
According to AOSSM, the key to combating this trend is education. AOSSM enlists the help of celebrity and high-profile athletes acting as spokespeople for the campaign. The STOP Sports Injuries website provides information to help parents and coaches recognize the early signs of injury. The campaign also hopes to encourage open communication between players, parents and coaches so that a child can feel comfortable acknowledging and reporting injury without fear of retaliation from coaches, like being benched or taken off the team. The STOP Sports Injuries website includes pages dedicated to Sports Injury Prevention with Coaches’ Resources, Athletes’ Resources, and Parents’ Resources. In addition, the resources pages contain sport-specific articles for injuries and preventative/treatment measures related to the listed sports and activities.
Overuse injuries are a chief concern for kids who are focusing solely on one sport. The AOSSM offers several tips for treating these injuries:
Cutting back the intensity, duration, and frequency of an activity
Adopting a hard/easy workout schedule and cross-training with other activities to maintain fitness levels
Learning about proper training and technique from a coach or athletic trainer
Performing proper warm-up activities before and after
Using ice after an activity for minor aches and pain
Using anti-inflammatory medications as necessary
If symptoms persist, a sports medicine specialist will be able to create a more detailed treatment plan for your specific condition. This may include a thorough review of your training program and an evaluation for any predisposing factors. Physical therapy and athletic training services may also be helpful.