Spotting the signs of an overuse injury in young athletes - KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

Spotting the signs of an overuse injury in young athletes

Overuse injuries in young athletes are subtle and usually occur over time. Overuse injuries in young athletes are subtle and usually occur over time.

Overuse injuries in young athletes are subtle and usually occur over time.  They happen more often in athletes who are 12 to 15 years old and they are preventable and treatable.  They can happen in nearly every sport to all parts of the body.  

Tony Peyton, a physical therapist at Floyd Valley Hospital in Le Mars, Iowa says he sees a lot of those types of injuries in young athletes who play sports year round.

"When you go for one sport year round, you are going to wear out," says Peyton.

To prevent overuse injuries, Peyton stresses the importance of rest.  At least one day a week during the season, and up to three months at a time when the season's over.  He says don't let your kids spend all their time concentrating on one sport or one skill in the sport.  Over specializing can lead to overuse injuries.

"What I'm seeing is that people are trying to work so much on their skills, but they aren't working on their athletic mobility and stability," says Peyton.  "If you are a good athlete, you can go from sport to sport and have carryover, but you have specialized so much you may not have the back strength to do one sport that doesn't necessarily need the back strength."

Besides overspecialization, Peyton says overuse injuries can be prevented by properly warming up and cooling down before any activity, getting the proper train and technique, practice skills that are age appropriate, increase training gradually, and don't play through the pain.  Tell a coach when you or your athlete gets hurt.

So how do you know if you or your young athlete may have an overuse injury?

"If you start to see a decrease in your performance, if you are sore the next morning and that happens every morning that's going to be a sign of overuse," says Peyton.  "If you have weakness, pain, swelling in joints, that you didn't have before that would be a sign to have someone look into this and ask 'am I doing too much of this or am I doing it wrong.'"

Peyton says make sure your young athlete gets enough sleep.  Gets the proper nutrition and hydration, and rest.  If that doesn't help, it might be time to see a specialist.

"The good thing about overuse injuries is they are easily taken care of once you identify the cause and you can figure out if it's a stability problem or a mobility problem," says Peyton. 

"Give them proper rest, teach them how to move correctly and then get them back into their sport so it doesn't have to be a life long problem, but it could lead into a life long problem."

Once on the road to recovery, Peyton recommends the ten percent rule.

"That means you can only increase 10 percent per week your frequency, your duration, or your intensity and you have to pick one.  You can't do all three and usually that will get you there safely," says Peyton.

But Peyton warns not taking care of an overuse injury can lead to life long problems.

"Overuse injury can continue to nag you and it can affect the way you move the rest of your life," says Peyton.

If left untreated, Peyton says overuse injuries may require surgery and have life long consequences.

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