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Thursday, January 31, 2013

Sports Injuries In Kids

As a trainer I am asked how to improve the strength of different children for a specific sport. As a baseball coach I see and hear of kids injuring their arms at the age of 10, 11, or 12. This is a problem in sports today. Why is this? Why is it happening now more than before? Can it be fixed?

The reason for the upswing in these trends are because more kids are choosing one sport and only one sport. Their playing baseball in January and play all year long. Or they are playing football or basketball just as much. Specialization of one sport is putting your child at a greater risk of injury.

As kids we played sports, rode bikes, and ran and jumped outside all day long. We would wake up go outside and play till dark. We also played 3 or 4 different sports throughout the year. That just isn't the case anymore. Kids are playing more video games, less real sports and partaking in less activities. Some parents think that if they give their child one sport like baseball that they can spend more time getting better. This is true but dangerous. Different sports use different muscles, if you play the same sport over and over their is no change for your muscles. In turn putting your child at risk.

Youth athletes are more flexible and bounce back faster then their older counterparts. If they have the proper rest their muscle, tendons, and ligaments can bounce back and are ready for the pounding sports put upon the body. Lets stay with baseball the problem is kids are starting in January playing in the indoor facilities, or outside if you are from the southern states. Playing 170 to 180 games per year, throwing in Showcase, and so on. Throwing a baseball so hard on the should and elbow to begin with all of this adds to the stress.

The body needs rest. There is no reason for 11 and 12 year old athletes to need shoulder, or ACL surgery. Your child should play more than one sport or take months not week off from the pounding of  the one sport. If not do not at any point allow your child to pitch all year long. The shoulder will not take the pounding and your players will be injuried and could end his career. There is no arm surgery for kids. As coaches no win is worth arm injuries on a 10 year old kid bottom line. You should try to rest from one sport for 7 to 9 months.

Specificity should not happen before your child is in the high school around the age of 15 or 16. Even at this age if your chosen sport is running you do not need to train for a marathon. (That's for a different article.) At this age you are able to adapt to the stresses of the given sport but you still need some time off. Take the time to work on your school work and prepare for the up coming college years.

Every athlete needs to have a functional training program to help their bodies gain the strength for their sports. That being said don't take them to a gym and make them pound out reps of bench presses and squats. Kids won't workout if it isn't fun. Make them sweat but let them laugh. Use different equipment like medicine balls, power sleds, body weight, or anything that keeps thing fun.

Specialization comes later in life it's called a job. Don't make your child specialize in a given sport keep things interesting and they will enjoy it more. Plus they will be a stronger athlete for it and continue to play longer injury free.

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