The newly launched STOP sports injuries program has taken aim at preventing overuse injuries in sports. Overuse injuries are injuries that occur when a tissue (muscle, tendon, ligament, bone) is used too frequently and intensely that it becomes fibrotic and possibly tears (or in the case of bone, results in a stress fracture). The group sees two disturbing trends: a rapid rise in the number of youth sports injuries and a drop in the age of young athletes with overuse injuries. According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, every year more than 3.5 million children age 14 and younger are treated for sports injuries. 50% of these are overuse injuries.
Some of the founding members of the program include former Olympic champions Christie Rampone, Eric Heiden and Bonnie Blair; professional golfer Jack Nicklaus; NFL Hall of Fame quarterback Bart Starr; MLB baseball player John Smoltz; NFL Hall of Fame defensive end Howie Long; and Heisman Trophy winner Sam Bradford.
Another major spokesman for the group is renowned orthopedic surgeon to the sports professionals, Dr. James Andrews. One of the major problems he sees is that these days, kids are encouraged, if not forced to specialize in one sport, and then the sport tends to be year round. Dr. Andrews reports “Sports used to be seasonal. If you played youth baseball, you used to have the winter off. Now, people think playing all year is supposed to make you better, but more isn’t always better,” John Smoltz, who’s now a TV sports broadcaster, agreed. “Growing up, I played all sports and loved every moment of it. I didn’t feel like I had to compete in such a magnified way to get recruited or looked at. If you asked every other major leaguer, and other professional athletes, very few would say that they played their sport year-round,” Smoltz said. “These kids need time to recover and play other sports,” he added.
We certainly see this in our practice. Our main tool of treatment is Active Release Technique, a technique specifically designed to treat overuse injuries in soft tissues. We certainly see quite a number of kids in our practices and we always try to promote cross training and sometimes, time off from activities. Heck, if you watch the March 23rd post made on this website, you will hear Dr. Kevin talk about the importance of cross training for marathoners when he spoke at the Suntrust National marathon.
Parents and coaches need to be aware of how these kids are feeling and there has to be an open line of communication between the child, parent, coach and health care provider.
Watch an interview on FOX News below with John Smoltz, Sam Bradford and Dr. Andrews:
Their website is found here