Whether your kid wants to be the next Coco Gauff or Lionel Messi, you want to support them in every way possible. With 25 million scholastic sports programs in the United States plus another 20 million community-based programs, there is plenty of opportunity to participate in athletics. But so is the potential for injury.
Sports injuries are the second leading cause of emergency room visits for kids and teens. Half of sports-related injuries in young athletes are due to overuse from repetitive motions.
At Houston Methodist Orthopedics & Sports Medicine, David Lintner, MD, a leader in orthopedic sports medicine, specializes in preventing and treating sports injuries in athletes of all ages. At our Kingwood and Houston, Texas, locations, our medical teams offer training and rehab protocols to prevent and treat sports injuries so your junior athlete plays safely and well.
Do you want to help your child excel while staying safe in their sport? Implement the following tips in their training and play.
Get evaluated before the season starts
All young athletes should have a preparticipation physical evaluation (PPE) at least six weeks before their sports season begins. We conduct PPEs at our office to identify any weaknesses or potential problems. We also treat and rehab injuries before your kid hits the field or court.
In addition, we identify inefficiencies in movement that could increase the risk of repetitive injuries. We also recommend training protocols that strengthen and stretch the entire body to reduce the risk of overuse injuries.
Play multiple sports
Even if your kid swings a golf club like Tiger Woods or can shoot like Le Bron James, childhood and early adolescence are not the time to focus on a single sport. Your child’s muscles and bones are still developing.
Cross-training and participating in a variety of activities allows those bones and muscles to respond to many different stressors so they build strength, stamina, and flexibility.
Don’t allow your kid to play more than one sport per season.
Instead, encourage them to engage in activities like swimming, dancing, or cycling to build other capacities. And once the season is over, choose another sport.
Don’t overdo it
No matter which sport your kid chooses, limit the total number of practices and competitions to five days per week. All athletes need time to rest and recover. They should have at least one day per week without planned activity.
Not only do their muscles need to rest and rebuild, but so does their brain. Playing sports is just as mentally and emotionally demanding as it is physically draining.
Ensure they have at least a three-month break from any particular sport. For example, suppose they play baseball in the spring and soccer in the fall. In that case, they should stop baseball practice for the soccer season and resume in later winter or early spring.
Be flexible with training
Even when training in their sport, all athletes should vary how they do their workouts. For instance, when working on endurance, they can vary throughout the week, whether they run, cycle, or use the elliptical machine.
They should also vary how they perform the motions they use in their sport. For instance, when practicing running, they can run in the pool instead of on a track.
Stay alert to injuries
Don’t ignore pain or weakness. A sports injury can permanently remove your child from their sport if not caught and treated promptly.
If your child or teen experiences a sports injury, early treatment makes a difference. See our success stories to learn how professional athletes made comebacks after devastating injuries and rehabilitative surgery.
To reduce your young athlete’s risk of a sports injury, book a PPE today. Contact our friendly and knowledgeable staff at the nearest office by phone or the online form.
Special message: If your child or teen is currently dealing with a sports injury and you live far from Houston, consider sending your MRI to Dr. Lintner for a second opinion.