There are many benefits to children who play sports – from team building skills to staying healthy. However, as with any physical activity, there are also risks to injury. Even with proper training and keeping a watchful eye on your child athlete, the risk of injury is higher in some sports than in others. Furthermore, if your child or teen decides to focus on one sport as opposed to diversifying their athletic experience, they are also at risk for overuse injuries. The risk of overuse injuries in children should not be the reason to keep your child from participating in sports. However, it’s important to take safety measures and maybe encourage sports that lower the risk of overuse injuries.
Individual Sports Pose Risk For Overuse Injuries In Children
In a new study, researchers have found that children who participate in individual sports or specialize in one sport may be at a higher risk of sustaining an overuse injury. Researchers studied a wide range of ages, from 7 to 18 years old, who participated in sports for more than eight months out of the year. Out of all the participants, 313 youths, 44% of youths who did individual athletics such as tennis, gymnastics, dance, swimming and the like sustained overuse injuries. Alternatively, only 32% who participated in team sports sustained similar injuries.
Although the percentages are just over 10%, this may not be enough for many parents to prevent their children from doing individual sports. There may not be that much bigger of a risk between the two types of sports, according to this study. However, researchers also found that those overuse injuries sustained by individual-sport athletes were also more serious.
What Sports Cause More Risk?
According to the limited study, a few individual sports posed the greatest risk. Gymnastics, tennis, and dance caused some of the more serious and worse overuse injuries to the participants. These three sports consisted of some of the longest and intense training seasons, as well as competitive seasons. Furthermore, the motions of the sport are of the most repetitive, which can be a leading cause of overuse injuries.
Repetition, improper training, and sports specialization often cause overuse injuries. Although not entirely avoidable, overuse injuries can largely be prevented through proper training and care.
Should Parents Encourage Team Sports Over Individual Sports?
The answer is that it’s completely up to the parents and the child. Even though serious overuse injuries were more prevalent for individual-sport athletes, all youth athletes were at the same amount of risk for acute or sudden injuries. These injuries can be even more serious and longer lasting than overuse injuries. Furthermore, those athletes who focus on football, cheerleading, and soccer are at the highest risk for the more serious acute and sudden injuries.
What Can Be Done About Overuse Injuries In Children?
It’s largely impossible to avoid any injury, especially in children. However, there are measures you can take to ensure the safety of your child. By making sure they are training properly along with communicating with the coach on a regular basis, you can help your child avoid an overuse injury. If your child is experiencing pain or sustains an injury, it’s important to be on the same page as the coach and any sports medicine professional. Take an active role in both the sport and rehabilitation will help ensure your child recovers fully from an injury and even prevents ones in the future.