in Youth Sports
New Evidence-Based REcommendations
Participation in youth sports can be an enjoyable experience and offers many benefits such as increased self-esteem, peer socialization and general fitness. However, the growing emphasis on competitive success has led to increased pressure to begin high-intensity training at young ages. Consequently, overuse injuries and burnout have become common. In response, the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine released evidence-based recommendations on Overuse Injuries and Burnout in Youth Sports. (1) Read on to find out what sports medicine physicians recommend to help young athletes participate more safely and enjoy the many benefits of youth sports.
U.S. Youth Sports
An excessive focus on early intensive training and competition at young ages - rather than skill development - can lead to overuse injury and burnout.
Some overuse injuries may not initially cause a young athlete to miss practices or games. And since most injury definitions focus on time lost from sport, overuse injuries are under-represented in injury reports and publications.
More Common Than You Think
Estimated number of children aged 6-18 years who participate in some form of athletics. Some participate in more than one sport. (2)
Early sport specialization is not a guarantee for long-term success in sports and may increase risk for overuse injury and burnout. Sport diversification at young ages is encouraged.
A result of repetitive activity without needed rest.
A result of chronic stress that causes a young athlete to withdraw from participating in a sport that was previously enjoyable.
Both issues can result in long recovery periods. Some overuse injuries may cause long-term health consequences that can be more serious than you think.
Risk & Prevention
Carefully monitor athletic activity during a child's growth spurt, when injury risk seems to be greater.
A history of prior injury is an established risk for overuse injuries.
Adolescent female athletes who have irregular menstrual cycles are pre-disposed to bone-stress injuries.
Limits on sports-specific repetitive movements (e.g. pitch counts) and scheduled rest periods are recommended.
Who can help?
If you are injured or think you may be reaching burnout, tell a parent, coach or physician. Limit weekly and yearly participation time.
Be familiar with specific high-risk injuries, such as stress fractures of the femoral neck, tarsal navicular, anterior tibial cortex and physis, and effort thrombosis.
Pre-season conditioning programs can reduce injury rates in young athletes.
Avoid overscheduling. Too many practices and competitive events can lead to injury and loss of interest in sport.
The American Medical Society for Sports Medicine (AMSSM) is a multi-disciplinary organization of sports medicine physicians whose members are dedicated to education, research, advocacy and the care of athletes of all ages. AMSSM members serve as team physicians at the youth level, NCAA, NFL, MLB, NBA, WNBA, MLS and NHL, as well as with US Olympic teams. Founded in 1991, the AMSSM comprises more than 2,500 sports medicine physicians whose goal is to provide a link between the rapidly expanding core of knowledge related to sports medicine and its application to patients in a clinical setting. www.amssm.org
A sports medicine physician has specialized training in both the treatment and prevention of illness and injury. Sports medicine physicians provide comprehensive care for athletes and other active individuals. They also serve as excellent resources for individuals who wish to become more active or begin exercise programs. To find a sports medicine physician in your area, visit www.amssm.org.
How can a sports medicine physician help?
References: (1) American Medical Society for Sports Medicine. Overuse Injuries and Burnout in Youth Sports position statement 2014. Available at: http://www.amssm.org/Publications.html. (2) National Council of Youth Sports. Report on trends and participation in organized youth sports 2008. Available at: http://www.ncys.org/pdfs/2008/2008-ncys-market-research-report.pdf, accessed May 10, 2013.