A new campaign is highlighting what the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons is calling a paradigm shift in youth sports.
The academy said that so many kids today are specializing in just one sport, that the number of overuse injuries is reaching numbers never before seen.
The campaign is called "One Sport." It's designed to get the attention of parents and their young athletes that excessive training in just one sport - a huge trend in youth sports today - can cause serious health issues.
The days of pick-up games and free play are practically gone, so says a new study reported by the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons.
The study said that one-third of children today only play a single sport.
"We're seeing a lot of overuse injuries from our student athletes," said Barclay Dugger, head athletic trainer at Springfield College.
Dugger told Western Mass News that freshman athletes are coming in with more and more health issues, many from overuse thanks to sports specialization.
"A lot of times, when freshmen are coming in for their preseason screenings, they're coming in with multiple surgeries, overuse injuries that are unresolved from the summer or high school spring season," Dugger explained.
Many young athletes are looking to compete for a college scholarship.
The academy's report broke down overuse injuries by sport, from ages five to 14.
Dugger said that overuse injuries happen gradually. When an athletic activity is repeated so often, parts of the body don't have enough time to heal between playing.
"It's okay to play one sport year round. It's just kind of where we've come as a society, but they have to have another what I call a hobby sport, another outlet sport to do that's going to stress another energy level system," Dugger noted.
Dugger said that it's all about creating muscle balance. Keeping core strength is key and taking a break is critical.
"Some sports are more skill related sports, so that if you're not doing it year-round, you're going to lose that touch, that feel, so those sports need to be done year round, but you do need to take a break," Dugger said.
The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons said to encourage young athletes to take at least one season off each year to help prevent overuse injuries.
The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons also said to never play through the pain. Rest and taking care of injuries can ultimately help keep kids stay in the game.
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