Apr 15, 2021
Preventing Post-Shutdown Sports Injuries in Youth Athletes

With the majority of athletics returning in the country, from the professional level to youth activities, how do we ensure athletes stay in the game and not taped up or in crutches on the sideline?

While it’s certainly great to have the return of sports, but many are concerned about the sudden shift from static to movement leading to acute injuries.

Photo: MSC U15 Green / Creative Commons

Nicole A. Friel, MD, MS, sports medicine specialist at UC Davis Medical Center, recently penned an op-ed for MedPageToday.com discussing the steps that should be taken in order to avoid injury risks in youth athletes.

Below is an excerpt from that op-ed.

Our sports medicine team expects to see a flood of pediatric sports injuries as recreational and competitive leagues resume. There will likely be a jump in injuries typically caused by inadequate conditioning – muscle strains, overuse tendon injuries, and stress fractures. My prediction is that we will see more injuries than normal in young athletes whose bones and joints are developing. These include injuries of high-growth, high-stress areas like knees, shoulders, elbows, hips, and ankles.

As children resume sports and begin rejoining leagues, there are important conditioning and stretching activities they can do today to reduce their risk of injury. To prevent such injuries, young muscles and tendons will need to ease back into shape gradually. As sports resume, it is important for parents and coaches to encourage children to slowly return to competitive activity.

Make A Schedule

Make a calendar of daily and weekly athletic goals. Follow the “10% rule”: Increase activity by no more than 10% per week. This applies to the intensity, volume, distance, and duration of workouts. Make time for rest and recovery after strenuous workouts.

Stretch It Out

Consider adding stretching and yoga to your routine. Professional athletes understand the benefits of stretching and yoga, and so should young athletes.

Diversify Your Activities

If you’re a pitcher seeking to remain at a high level of throwing, your workouts during this time should not be solely focused on pitching. In fact, most of your training should be directed towards reinforcing the basic mechanics of throwing and addressing any kinetic chain deficits.

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Consider adding additional activities like walking, jogging, or biking to your routine. Improving your core strength, lower extremity balance, flexibility, and cardiovascular endurance are all ways to enhance your pitching capability.

To read the full op-ed from Nicole A. Friel on preventing injuries in youth sports, click here

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