Injuries and Prevention Tips for Young Athletes

High profile sports events like the Olympics bring the hope that witnessing and celebrating dedicated athletes at the top of their game, will inspire young people to take up sport and physical activities that help them develop confidence, lead more satisfying lives, and not least, secure long-term health by reducing their risk for developing chronic illness like diabetes, obesity, cancer and cardiovascular diseases.

But unfortunately, if they don’t take appropriate measures, young athletes can instead, end up in pain, on a different path to poor health, due to avoidable sport injury.

James R. Andrews, a former president of the American Society for Sports Medicine (AOSSM), said in May 2012, the US has experienced a tremendous rise in the number of young people taking up sport. Estimates show 3.5 million children aged 14 and under receive medical treatment for sport-related injuries, while high-school athletes account for another 2 million a year.

“This makes sports the leading cause of adolescent injury. Along with time away from school and work, these injuries can have far-reaching effects,” said Andrews.

Some injury experts in the US have said they are also seeing more and more young athletes injured because of overuse and doing too much, and this may partially explain the growing numbers that drop out of sport by the eighth grade. The most common sports injuries are:

  • Knee injuries,
  • Sprains and strains,
  • Swollen muscles,
  • Achilles tendon injuries,
  • Pain along the shin bone, and
  • Fractures and dislocations.

While injuries in young athletes are similar to the ones that affect adults, they can’t always be treated in the same way because their bodies are not fully developed.

Prehab to Avoid Rehab

Prehab, short for prehabilitation, is a relatively new idea in sports medicine and therapy. It is a personalized exercise program that is individually designed for athletes to help them prevent injury in their given sport.

A prehab program is becoming a regular part of an athlete’s training routine The aim of prehab is to avoid injury by compensating for the repetitive movements and stresses of regular, often daily, training. In some respects, you can view athletic training for peak performance in a sport as a form of repetitive strain, with the potential to result in injury in much the same way as computer operators can get occupational injuries like carpal tunnel syndrome and shoulder problems.

With repetitive use, muscles become tight, the body develops imbalances in strength and muscle coordination. These happen naturally during activity, but because training is repetitive, they become repeatedly reinforced with each workout, unless that workout also incorporates some compensating activity, such as in a prehab routine.

To ensure the best chance of success with prehab, the athlete should start practicing it before injury occurs. 

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