Author: Rosemary Buckle, M.D.
Did you know that 50% of all sports-related injuries among pediatric athletes (children ages 6 to 12 and adolescents ages 13 to 18) are due to overuse? According to an infographic published by National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA), acute overuse injuries occur when an athlete engages in too much activity in too brief a period, while chronic overuse injuries occur from repetitive motions and activities during a period of several weeks or months.
Whether acute or chronic, the fact remains that overuse injuries are a significant problem in sports (no matter the age). Let’s take a closer look at overuse injuries with the help of NATA’s infographic (reposted below).
What Causes Overuse Injuries?
Overuse injuries may be caused by…
- Training errors
- Improper form/technique
- Excessive sports training
- Inadequate rest
- Muscle weakness and imbalances
- Early specialization
What Are the Symptoms of Overuse Injuries?
Symptoms may appear gradually, which can result in many athletes going for weeks or months (sometimes even longer) without being diagnosed. Overuse injuries may appear in the form of stress fractures, which occur when fatigued muscles are unable to absorb shock, resulting in the transference of the shock to the bone; growth plate injuries, which are caused by repeated micro-traumas (micro-tearing of the muscle fibers and connective tissues); general stress; inflammation; and tendinitis.
Long-term consequences may include:
- Loss of playing time
- Reduced function
- Psychological exhaustion
What Sports Are Overuse Injuries Most Common In?
Among men, overuse injuries are most commonly seen in these sports:
- Track and field
- Other low-contact sports
Among women, overuse injuries are more common in:
- Field hockey
How Can I Prevent Overuse Injuries?
You may be able to prevent overuse injuries in yourself and your children by…
- Discouraging specialization and repetitive sport activities in children at a young age.
- Limiting training in a single sport to five days a week with at least one day off.
- Taking at least two to three months off from a sport each year.
- Limiting overhead throwing sports in children to just one per season.
- Avoid playing the same sport year-round (especially in younger athletes).
- Limiting vigorous physical activity to 16 to 20 hours a week in pediatric athletes.
- Getting an annual pre-participation physical exam.
Find a Sports Medicine Doctor Near You In Houston
Have more questions about overuse injuries? Schedule an appointment at Houston Institute for Sports Medicine & Orthopedics by calling (713) 756-5546. You can also schedule your appointment online.
Please consult with your physician before undertaking any form of medical treatment or adopting any exercise program or dietary guidelines.