Young athletes need special attention and care when participating in sports. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, up to 45 million children and teens participate in some type of organized sport. With these astounding numbers, injuries become par for the course and game-time pressures rise.
Besides minor sprains and strains, ACL injuries, elbow overuse and Achilles injuries occur frequently with young athletes.
Is it okay for a growing child to train year round? How can parents determine when their child needs medical attention versus treating an injury with rest and ice? And how do you help a child cope if an injury forces them to stop playing?
Sports are a large part of a kid’s identity and teammates often become close friends. They’re also an escape — an activity kids (and adults) use to balance their mental health. When an injury derails that activity, it can cause more than just physical pain.
Listen as Dr. G and his guests, sports medicine specialist Zahab Ahsan, MD and Doctor of Occupational Therapy Keagan Hadley discuss the best ways to keep young athletes balanced, healthy and injury free.
Myths vs. Facts
“Various techniques exist that are designed to prevent potential sports injuries.” - Fact
There are a number of things athletes can do to strengthen their mind and body before a competition.
“Being strong will prevent injury.” – Fact
ACL injuries in particular can be prevented with increased strength. For example, strong hips and quadriceps can help protect knees from injuries.
“Youth sports injuries and mental health go together.” – Fact
There’s usually a lot of pressure on student-athletes to compete at a high level, even at a young age.
“It is okay to play through pain.” – Myth
There are some circumstances where it’s okay, but generally speaking it is not recommended.
“My child has a high tolerance for pain.” – Myth
It depends on the type of injury, not necessarily how much pain the child is in. For instance, just because someone has a high pain tolerance, it would not be recommended that they play with a torn Achilles.
“A young athlete should work out every day.” – Myth
Everybody deserves rest days each week. Once they reach skeletal maturity, daily workouts are okay, but young athletes should find a balance of workouts and rest.
“Young athletes must hire personal trainers to help get them to the next level.” – Myth
Generally, the coaches of today are good enough to get student athletes to the next level.
“Young athletes should take anti-inflammatories before exercising to lessen the pain and inflammation from underlying injuries.” – Myth
Growing athletes should sparingly take anti-inflammatories. Adults get into the habit of taking them before activity, but that doesn’t apply to youth athletes.
“Young athletes should eat healthy, stay active, be smoke-free, limit alcohol (those underage should avoid it), and get adequate sleep to help sustain physical performance during exercise or sports.” – Fact
And this applies to adults as well!
Listener healthy OH-YEAH!
“I just walked around my block completely for the first time since November! I may not be much of a weekend warrior to most, but for me it was a triumph! – A.K.