Years of sports can lead to overuse injuries in young athletes
By Sarah Te Slaa, Multimedia Producer/ Anchor - email
There are more than 2.5 million overuse injuries each year.
From dance and volleyball to baseball and soccer, as kids try their talents in different sports, the hobby can become year-round and they may often push themselves to the limit physically. That can lead to overuse injuries in their bodies that are still developing.
Physical Therapist Tony Peyton works with a lot of young athletes with overuse injuries at Floyd Valley Hospital in Le Mars, Iowa.
"They are injuries that occur over time," says Peyton. "It's not like your fractured ankle or sprained wrist from playing softball or basketball. It's something that slowly occurs due to a muscle imbalance or a tendonitis and it doesn't go away."
According to the organization, stopsportsinjuries.org, overuse injuries are a growing epidemic with more than 2.5 million each year. They can happen in nearly every sport to all parts of the body.
"Elbows, knees, legs, hips, and some backs even, which is really a problem when you are seeing 12-year-olds with back injuries and you are going wait a minute and that's not right," says Peyton.
Peyton says those injuries occur more often in kids 12 to 15-years-old.
"Because of the growth spurt with adolescence, they have the energy to do it but not necessarily the tools to do it," says Peyton.
He says by the time a young athlete gets to high school, they will have had ten years of organized sports and it's often year-round.
"They will play volleyball, they'll go to basketball and still play volleyball on a traveling team, then they'll go to track, still playing volleyball on a traveling team, and then softball in the summer and traveling volleyball, then volleyball starts back up and they never really got a break with that," says Peyton.
And that's hard on young, developing bodies.
"There is too much too often for these kids," says Peyton. "They need to take a break. It's usually an overzealous coach or an overzealous parent that's trying to get the most out of them, which is important because you need to push to get good, I don't deny that, but at the same time you need to have that rest."
He recommends young athletes take a three month break from their main sport.
"It allows it to heal, it allows it to recharge," says Peyton. "We don't want them to be sitting on the couch all summer, but at the same time we don't want them to be overactive and destroying their tendons and muscles."
He says the health of young athletes, along with preventing and treating overuse injuries, should be top priorities for parents and coaches.
"It's something we don't want to take lightly and 10 to 15 years ago, it was something we would just say 'ahhhh, you'll be fine don't worry about it, toughen up,' but really that's not the answer," says Peyton.
Peyton says overuse injuries are preventable and treatable., but if left untreated, they may require surgery and have life long consequences.
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