While practice may make perfect, too much repetition in sports increases the chance of injuries for many youths, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC says overuse injuries are responsible for nearly half of all sports injuries among middle and high school students. And the modern trend of specializing in one particular sport has caused the number of youth injuries to rise drastically: A 2013 report by the sports medicine department at Loyola University of Chicago stated that “kids are twice as likely to get hurt if they play just one sport as those who play multiple sports.”
Even when young athletes are not playing actual games, they often spend time practicing at sports camps and during private lessons. Children as young as 8 years old are choosing one particular sport, and in many cases, are playing it year-round. And the injuries have begun to mount. For one example, serious elbow and shoulder injuries among youth baseball and soft...
Here are five tips from Robin Bousquet, a senior physical therapist at the Sports Medicine Center for Young Athletes in Walnut Creek:
1 PREPARE FOR YOUR SPORT. Don’t expect the first days of practice to get you in shape; you need to be in shape for the first day of practice. That means cardio-vascular, strength, endurance, and flexibility training.
2 KNOW PROPER TECHNIQUES. Whether it is landing a back handspring, or changing directions during a soccer game, learn the technique that fits your sport.
3 TAKE A BREAK. Make sure you have rest intervals, which decrease injuries and prevent heat illness. The length depends on the sport: longer breaks are needed for high-intensity sports or workouts.
4 YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT (AND DRINK). Follow the best practices for nutrition and hydration to decrease fatigue, which can lead to injuries.
5 DRESS SMART and wear the right gear. The appropriate gear, such as good shoes and helmets, will protect you from preventable injuries.
Flying across soccer practice fields in the northwest corner of Berkeley, Andrés Jankowski darts among his teammates as precisely as a hummingbird. He tickles the soccer ball with his feet like a magician doing sleight of hand. The sphere is here, it’s there, and then, with a kick, Andrés makes it take flight. You’d never know that two years before, the 14-year-old at Berkeley’s School of the Madeleine had two broken legs, one with a compound fracture. In December 2005, while visiting friends in Concord, Andrés borrowed a Razor scooter. Chased by another boy, and unfamiliar with the roads, Andrés accidentally shot out into traffic on the scooter. A surprised motorist on Clayton Valley Road hit him. By chance, a Concord police officer was there. She stopped traffic, and soon the unconscious Andrés was being airlifted to Children’s Hospital & Research Center Oakland. Andrés’ mother Carmen quickly heard about the accident, first after calls from his friend’s mom, and then with a call from...