Are kids who play only one sport risking injury? Yes, says new report
The American Academy of Pediatrics published a report about kids and sports and sports injuries this month. One of the things it found was the danger of kids specializing in one sport, instead of playing several. It recommends that kids not specialize in one particular sport until age 15 or 16.
One of the biggest dangers of specializing early is overuse injuries. It’s estimated that as many as
Dr. Matthew Ellington, a
In dancing and cheerleading, it’s knee injuries. Gymnastics, it’s wrists. We’ve actually written about girls and knee injuries before. That study found that girls were 2.5 to 6.2 times more likely to have an anterior cruciate ligament injury than boys. Some of it is physiological differences in the way boys’ and girls’ bodies are made, but a big factor is the number of hours that are being dedicated to that sport.
Ellington does see plenty of boys as well as non dancers, cheerleaders and gymnasts.
In baseball players, it’s elbows. In basketball, soccer and volleyball players, it’s knees. He doesn’t see as many football players with these types of injuries, he says, mainly because football is one season. However, as kids have started to play flag football in the spring, he is seeing some.
A lot of the injuries are happening during puberty when the skeleton is growing faster than the muscles and ligaments an catch up, Ellington says. Their bodies were meant to have a variety of activities and not endure the same moves over and over again. Remember when kids just went out and played?
The recommendation is that kids get at least three months a year where they are not participating in the one sport. Those three months don’t have to happen all at once, but can be three months on, one month off.
Ellington also recommends at least two to three days off a week, except for stretching. He’d like to kids to do that twice a day.
When kids do have an injury, they have to let their bodies rest and not try to push their way back onto the field or gym floor. And parents have to listen to the doctor and let their child rest.
Parents also need to act when their kids are in pain and not let them “shake it off.” They can also attend practices and make sure that kids are doing stretching and strength training and not just hard-pounding exercise. And, of course, they can make sure that kids are involved in a variety of sports and take time off.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that doctors use these talking points based on the report’s findings:
The U.S. Olympic Committee, along with National Governing Bodies, created five stages of age-appropriate sports activity for any sport:
So, yes, keep your kids active, just make sure they rest and do a variety of different activities.
(This Blog is published in Austin360, dated 23 September 2016. The content of this blog does not reflect the official opinion of EduSports.)