Cris LaBossiere

Cris LaBossiere
Strength training and mountain biking. My two favorites

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Pediatric sports injuries: the silent epidemic

Pediatric sports injuries: the silent epidemic

"Year-round sports and increased exposure leading to more adolescent sport-related injuries"

New studies show that youth who participate in year round sports or play on multiple sports teams at the same time are at higher risk of injuries.

I've seen many young athlete either push themselves or be pushed by their social network of parents, teammates, and friends.. right to the point of injury or overtraining.

While many are able to recognize they have overdone it and scale back their training and competition + add more preparation conditioning and injury prevention exercises, a large number of athlete's will simply assume that injury and feeling really fatigued is part of the game.

It's true.. if you're involved in sports chances are you will sustain an injury at some point.. probably more than once.  Training hard is tiring so being tired from competition and training is also par for the course.

So is there really an issue here?

Yes.  The issue here is overtraining and overuse injury due to training and competing too much.

When you play 3 or 4 sports it's nearly impossible if not entirely impossible to manage effective recovery time.

Preparing for one sport is difficult enough, but if you have soccer practice on Monday, volleyball on Tuesday, Basketball on Thursday, and game days on weekends and other week days, where's the recovery?

There isn't any.

"Go hard or go home", "more is better", and "suck it up", seem to be the age old axioms that still undermine those involved in sports.  For many the mere suggestion of recovery time is like threatening the fibre of a persons existence.

Let me give you a personal example:

I had a young athlete see me in the gym for a strength training appointment.  This athlete was enrolled in multiple sports simultaneously and thus had ongoing consecutive weekdays of intense practice time for different sports, as well as competitions.

The day they came to see me for strength training they were so fatigued they could barely do 5 abdominal crunches.  We tried some other exercises and sure enough they could not do any exercise, even at a light intensity without showing significant signs of fatigue.

I told them, "you need rest more than you need training today.  If you train today you'll get less fit and more tired.  Let's cancel todays session so you can get some rest."

Instead of the athlete agreeing they were completely devastated emotionally.  They had placed so much pressure to train on themselves that the idea of recovery time seemed like punishment.

What's worse is the parents did not seem to understand the risk of overtraining to their teenager. 

When I discussed the idea with the athlete and the parents that perhaps they had taken on too many sports and need to give more consideration to recovery time each of them seemed dismayed. 

In fact when I suggested the athlete consider taking some time off training and sports to recover and get healthy so they could come back stronger, the athlete become visibly upset and drawn to tears.

The outcome?

That was the last time I heard from that athlete.

Tell someone to push through pain, fatigue, and injury and you're a hero.

Ask a compulsive exerciser to take a break to get out of a fatigue rut and you're talking to the hand.

When a person feels compelled to exercise despite being so tired they can't complete the exercise, or they feel stiff and sore, or they haven't been able to recover normally from prior training, they are a compulsive exerciser.

This young athlete was certainly compulsive, and this compulsive behaviour was being enabled by their parents and team coaches.

This wasn't the first time I had experienced this.  In fact it's pretty much an everyday occurrence.

We need more youth involved in physical activity, but once we get them there overall there seems to be too much emphasis on training hard, competing often, and enrolling in as many sports as can be handled.

I've seen this "silent epidemic" first hand, and it's worrisome. 

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