How to Prevent Overuse Injuries in Child Athletes: Seven Simple Steps

Many parents are aware that injury is always a possibility for a child involved in sports. What may not be as well known is how common overuse injuries have become. Research demonstrates an increasing prevalence of overuse injuries in youth sports. When children engage in a sport that repeatedly stresses the same still-growing bones and muscles, there is a greater risk of injury. 

At EmergeOrtho–Triangle Region, our highly-trained Sports Medicine Specialists are here to help guide parents and children in how to remain safe and prevent overuse injuries. In addition to our skilled and experienced Sports Medicine Team, our EmergeOrtho–Triangle Region athletic trainers cover several local high school sports teams such as Leesville High School, Heritage High School, and Corinth Holders High School.. 

When it comes to sports injury prevention, diagnosis, and treatment, Triangle area parents choose the cutting-edge, quality orthopedic care offered by EmergeOrtho–Triangle Region. 

Seven Overuse Injury Prevention Strategies to Help Keep Your Child Safe

Studies report that an estimated 30 to 45 million children in the U.S. participate in organized sports each year. Of the children who experience sports-related injuries, upwards of 50% are attributed to overuse. Often, overuse injuries occur due to sports specialization. That is why orthopedic experts recommend that your child participates in more than one sport, as well as acquire proper rest between sporting activities. 

While adults are susceptible to overuse injuries, children are more at risk because their bodies are still growing. In addition to increasing the risk of injury, sports-related overuse can interrupt healthy growth and even lead to long-term health issues. 

To help keep your child safe and protected from overuse injuries, take a look at the following seven sports injury prevention tips:

  1. Low-Impact Warm-Ups
    Engaging in warm-up exercises such as jogging in place and mild stretches (held for 10- to 12-second intervals) can help slowly bring up your child’s heart rate and prime the body for higher-impact sporting activities. 
  2. Steady Cool Downs
    Just as important as preparing the body to launch into a higher impact sport is transitioning the heart rate and muscles into a resting phase. Again, engaging in a low-impact, physical activity—like stretching—can help keep the muscles limber, bring down the heart rate, and ease the body for its resting state. 
  3. A young female coach talks with a young male child athlete while he takes a break and rehydrates. Proper Hydration
    Drinking plenty of water keeps muscles safe and pliable. To ensure your young athlete is hydrated, 30-minute water breaks are recommended during sporting activities. 
  4. Respect Injury-Risk Symptoms
    While the concept of ‘pushing through the pain’ is not foreign in the sporting world—even youth sports—it is a highly dangerous notion. If a child shows signs of pain (especially stabbing pain), shortness of breath, limping, favoring one side of the body, stiffness of the joints or muscles, dizziness, numbness, or unusual weakness, activity should be stopped. Pushing through the pain can not only lead to overuse injury, but it can also result in a serious medical problem or eventually cause chronic overuse injuries
  5. Work Up Slowly
    Much like avoiding “pushing through the pain,” it is important not to press children into going beyond their physical limitations. Challenging a young athlete to go to the “next level” is different than forcing a full-steam-ahead agenda. Experts suggest abiding by the 10% rule. Essentially, your child’s training activity, weight, pace, or mileage should not be increased beyond 10% per week. 
  6. Honor the Need for Rest
    Breaks and rest are essential to young, still-developing bodies. Participating in a sport while sick or fatigued carries a much greater risk of injury. Rest encourages appropriate recuperation of tired muscles and minds, only making both stronger. 
  7. Schedule a Sports Physical 
    Most schools and club sports require a sports physical. Even if a physician-performed sports exam is not mandated, it is a good idea. An evaluation conducted by a sports medicine specialist will help identify any potential overuse injury signs and ensure that your child does not have an underlying medical condition (such as asthma, sprain, strain, or other issues). 

Team Up With EmergeOrtho–Triangle Region Sports Medicine Specialists

To help prevent an overuse injury from occurring a person should always feel comfortable consulting with an expert. At EmergeOrtho–Triangle Region, our innovative approach centers on injury prevention and improving performance—safely and effectively. This means helping parents and child athletes arm themselves with everything they need to know about overuse injuries

If you would like to schedule a sports physical or know more about how to prevent sports injuries, call us any time at (919) 220-5255