Young Athletes. Play smart, play safe, and play hard!
The journey from backyard playing to a high level competitive arena for young athletes can be fun and rewarding. There will also be many challenges in between. Early morning practices, driving to Timbukthree for competitions, or even injuries which prevent young athletes from training and competing at their best in a sport they love.
Inadequate sport-specific warming up, stretching and strengthening programs can result in imbalance of strength or joint range of motion, leading to injuries.
According to a sport injury epidemiological study from England, 67% of interruptions to training for British athletes in Olympic sports are due to injury.
The most common injury sites are: the knee (Osgood-Schlatter Disease: a painful lump resulting from inflammation of the area just below the knee where the patellar tendon attaches to the shinbone, which occurs most often in children participating in sports that involve running, jumping and sharp changes in direction); the heel (Sever’s disease: occurs when a growth spurt causes the heel bone to grow faster than the muscles, tendons and ligaments in the leg) and at the elbow (Little League Elbow: a result of repetitive stress to the growth plate on the inside of the elbow).
Here are some of the sport-specific common injuries and injury prevention methods according to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS):
- Common injuries and locations:Injury to the growth plate is a common concern. When an athlete experiences a growth spurt, muscles may become tight because the bone has grown faster than muscles can keep up. Knee and ankle injuries such as Osgood-Schlatter disease, Sever’s disease and ACL are common basketball related injuries. Injury rates are higher in girls, especially for the anterior cruciate ligament or ACL.
- Common injuries and locations:Shoulder injury (rotator cuff and shoulder impingement). A good dry-land training program that addresses the shoulder girdle stabilizer 2-3 x per week can be effective in preventing overuse injuries.
- Common injuries: Achilles/ankle, knees
- Common injuries and locations:Knee injuries including ACL and medial collateral ligament, as well as meniscus tear, fractures (finger, ankle and wrist), shoulder/collar bone injuries, concussions and back injuries. A good mantra is “when in doubt, sit them out”
Baseball and Softball
- Common injuries:“Little League” elbow and shoulder. The growth plate is the main issue of concern. In growing children, bones grow by adding a new section of the bone that is softer and then grows solid and knits to the bone fully as the child ages. Because the tissue in this new section, known as a growth plate, is softer, it is this area that is more likely to become injured during a sharp impact or stress on the bone. As the child reaches skeletal maturity, these injuries may progress to ligament, tendon or muscle overuse injuries.
- Common injuries: Concussion, hip flexor, knees and ankle sprains. Many parents fear that heading the ball increases risk of concussion. Findings show that most concussions aren’t from repeatedly heading the ball, but rather from collisions with other players, the ground, goalposts or when the ball strikes the head unexpectedly.
- Common injuries:wrist (the most common), elbow (osteocondritis dissecans: a joint condition in which bone underneath the cartilage of a joint dies due to lack of blood flow), shoulder injuries (common in male, uncommon in female), back injuries (spondylolysis: a defect of the lower vertebrae, caused by repetitive impact or trauma to the spine, is a very common cause of low back pain in gymnasts), knee, ankle.
Dr. James Fung DC
Family and Sport Chiropractor
Certified Heads Up Clinician addressing Concussions in Sports Among Kids and Teens
Certified ScoliBrace provider
Complete Balance Health Clinic, Kingsway Village, Toronto