Staying active all year-round is important for children to maintain their fitness levels, build strong muscles and bones. Some ways to keep kids active throughout the year is to engage in different activities. This can include going for hikes or bike rides, joining camps, and signing your child up for sports teams. Participation in organized sports is a great way to keep a child healthy, active, and in a routine while improving their motor coordination and socializing skills.
A growing concern for parents with young athletes is early specialization in sports and the consequences attached. Injuries come with the territory of staying active but did you know that many issues can arise from being overly active? We are human and we only get one body so we must take care of it. Physical injuries like broken bones, pulled muscles, and torn ligaments are common in high intensity activities. But there are steps you can take to minimize injury.
Early Sports Specialization is when an athlete chooses to focus and participates in intense training for only one sport all year round. This can increase the risk of young athletes burning out, overtraining, and resulting in injury.
Overuse injuries stem from repetitive damage to the muscles or joints over a period of time. This is often seen in those who play a single sport.
Overtraining and overuse injuries in youth sports can lead to having to take subsequent time off from all sports participation. This can cause the athlete a great deal of pain for the athlete but also affect their mental health.
For young athletes, a special area of concern is the growth plates. Injuries affecting the growth plates need immediate attention, being that these are a region that can affect how the bone will grow. It is especially important for young athletes in this stage of their life to be able to protect these areas to assist with proper development.
To ensure athletes perform at their best, it is important to have a good balance of rest and recovery. Having some down time to rest and recover will allow your body to repair and strengthen itself between training.
Unfortunately, when an athlete suffers an injury they are not only suffering from physical pain, but they are also suffering from social isolation. The lack of social contact impacts athletes' mental health.
To prevent burnout and overtraining, young athletes are being encouraged to take part in many sports per year with three months off per year of organized sports; Separated into 1-month increments.
Athletes who train to use multiple movements, reduce the risk of overtraining one area of the body. For athletes that use highly repetitive and high-impact movements, this is especially important.
Young athletes should take at least one or two days off per week from their sport to allow for adequate rest and recovery. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends avoiding specialization until late adolescence. Specializing at the age of 15 or 16 can decrease the risk of injury, delayed development, stress, and burnout. One way to manage the amount of activity for children is to allow them to participate in fewer hours in sports per week than their age. For example, a 10-year-old should take part in less than 10 hours per week in sports. Keeping track of your child's activity volume can reduce the risk of overuse injuries and keep kids active for longer.
At Maven, we work with young athletes to give them a great physical foundation to move from, no matter what their sport is. We do preventative performance therapy, return to sport testing and physical therapy for all youth athletes at all levels of the game. To learn more about keeping your child active and healthy while preventing injuries, call to book an appointment to help reach their performance goals.