Tips for Preventing Repetitive Stress Injuries in Children

Orthopaedic Associates’ Mike Hoenig, MD

Sports engagement benefits children’s physical and mental well-being, but too much physical exercise can result in damage. Overuse injury, also known as repetitive stress injury, is becoming a major worry for orthopaedic doctors, especially as the number of dual-sport players continues to rise.

As a result, I’ve seen this sort of injury become more widespread in my job as an orthopaedic expert, with overuse injuries impacting muscles, ligaments, tendons, bones, and growth plates.

 

It’s crucial to remember that young athletes are still growing—often at a rapid rate—which puts them at a higher risk of suffering an injury that could result in long-term health issues.

Overuse injuries account for over half of all juvenile sports-related injuries, but there are easy precautions that parents, coaches, and even young athletes may do to avoid them:

1. Physical Examinations Prior to Participation

All adolescent athletes should have a pre-participation physical assessment. These exams are used to check for risk factors such as injury history, flexibility, joint stability, and anatomic misalignments.

 

To avoid recurrent injuries, those with identified deficiencies should be directed to qualified medical specialists such as athletic trainers or physical therapists for proper therapy.

 

2. Athletic Performance Nutrition

 

The ability of the body to perform, recover, and get stronger is dependent on proper nourishment. Young and growing athletes waste a lot of energy during physical activity, and many of them do not consume enough calories to keep up with their needs.

Poor nutrition can contribute to bone density loss, overuse injuries, and stress fractures, which is a major worry for orthopaedic specialists like myself.

3. Proper Equipment Is Important

Clothing and equipment differ by sport, and while replacing it can be costly, the equipment from the previous season may not fit your child well, resulting in harm.

Overuse injuries to the knee and foot are common, therefore choosing and replacing shoes is crucial, especially for activities that include running.

4. Stretching Can Help You Avoid Injuries

Tendonitis is the most prevalent overuse injury in all sports. Tendonitis can be either occasionally or continuously painful, depending on its severity. Warming up and cooling down with proper stretching is essential for avoiding overuse problems.

As a result, young athletes should be taught adequate stretching techniques to minimise hypermobility, which can lead to subsequent damage.

5. The importance of selective rest

It’s normal for children to feel compelled to play through pain, and while they may appear tough on the inside, their bodies can only take so much.

Overuse injuries worsen as you play despite the discomfort, causing more damage to your body and lengthening your healing period. An orthopaedic immediately a doctor should be consulted if you have persistent discomfort or an injury.

Parents should also be aware of warning indications such as pain, swelling, changes in form or technique, and a lack of enthusiasm for practice.

6. Don’t overdo any one sport.

Limit your child’s participation in many teams in a single season. Children who participate on multiple sports teams may be physically overexerting themselves, putting them at risk for overuse problems.

 

Taking regular pauses and participating in different sports might be beneficial for skill development and injury avoidance in year-round sports. Several studies have found a link between overuse injuries and year-round participation in one activity.

This indicates that young athletes are simply performing more than their bodies are capable of.

Most athletes may suffer from sports-related injuries at some point, but overuse injuries can be avoided by following these basic guidelines. Remember that coaches are usually focused on an entire group of kids, not just yours, so encourage your child to speak up if something isn’t right.

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