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PREVENT

Time out! Don't let kids play injured

The idea that kids can bounce back fast might not be as true as we think when it comes to injuries. Young athletes are more prone to overuse injuries because of their growing bodies. As more kids participate in sports, I am seeing more overuse injuries in children and teens. 

Overuse injuries are injuries due to repetitious activities that cause stress on the bones, muscles and joints without allowing time for the body's tissues to rest and adapt. Sports that are most likely to cause overuse injuries are tennis, swimming, dance, track, running, gymnastics and cheerleading. Girls have a higher incidence of overuse injuries than boys, mainly due to the differences in sports played.

Risk factors
Because growing bodies are less resistant to stress, overuse injuries are more commonly seen during growth spurts. They can also happen if the athlete has an anatomic factor such as patellofemoral malalignment—that's where the knee tilts too far inward or outward. Other risk factors include:

  • poor endurance, or lack of pre-season conditioning
  • training that is too intense, or performed too long
  • use of improper equipment
  • poor technique
  • previous injury.

Prevention
The key is to minimize risk factors:

  • Kids and teens should cross-train in a number of sports and activities – avoid intense, single-sport participation year-round.
  • Parents and coaches need to carefully monitor kids' training load, pre-season conditioning and train kids in the proper use of equipment.
  • Make sure your athlete takes at least one day off a week from training.

Treatment
If you suspect your child has a sports injury, see your doctor:

  • He or she may advise rest and medications such as Tylenol/NSAIDS for pain.
  • He or she may advise cross-training to maintain fitness

You may also be referred for physical therapy to address mechanical issues and technique.

WHAT YOU CAN DO

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