Young athletes often face preventable injuries

by Eric Saylor, Staff Writer 513 views0

The next Jordan, the next Phelps, the college scholarship – each, dreams of many young athletes these days.

These dreams often lead to a recurring issue in today’s high intensity sports, whether it be team or individual, sports-related injury.

We think of football and hockey – contact sports – that cater to the risk of severe injury.

However, this is not always the case.

Injury can befall any athlete at any age, but according to the CDC, injuries occur in younger athletes and often come in the form of overuse and muscle imbalances.

These injuries take place when stress is put on ligaments and tendons where they are stretched too far.

Many injuries are minor and can repair themselves with proper therapy, there are many that take years or even a lifetime to repair.

For example, baseball pitchers are prone to overuse injuries due to the repeated motion of throwing the ball and overexertion.

Most of these injuries occur due to improper coaching techniques and can lead to a long, painful road back to playing the sport they love.

Teaching proper techniques, like learning how to run properly, is essential to strengthening muscles and creating a proper platform for kids to start from.

Education regarding nutrition is also crucial in preventing injuries.

Kenny Kallen, a certified strength and conditioning coach, works with young athletes and trains to help them prevent injury.

“We teach kids to take care of their bodies, not only physically but mentally,” Kallen, said.

Many improper techniques are taught and there is not a simple solution to the problem, however, learning proper techniques through certified trainers is a start.

Velocity Sports Performance
Velocity Sports Performance

Velocity Sports Performance, a multi-sport training facility, creates scientifically proven programs to help athletes get stronger, the right way.

They offer programs that are age appropriate and teach young athletes the correct way to stretch and build strength.

“We don’t just put a bar or weights in their hands,” Kallen said, “we teach them to use their body with body weight squats and push-ups to make sure they are strong enough to support their own weight, before we press on.”

Having a 10-year-old train year round to compete at a very high level raises the issue of what amount of stress should be put on these young athletes.

With recent events, like the firing Rutgers basketball head coach Mike Rice, many kids these days are pushed beyond their limits, often leading to injury.

Parents tend to drive their kids too hard as well, not only in the sports they play but in the classroom.

This often backfires and leads to stress, depression and injury on the playing field.

The toll adds up to more than 2.6 million kids being treated in the emergency room for sports related injuries every year.

Taking precautions and following steps provided by the CDC and certified training coaches, can help to prevent these injuries.

Having proper gear is a another way to further stop injuries from occurring.

Several new companies are taking these injuries seriously and providing products that meet and often exceed what is recommended.

Xprotex, a Santa Clarita company, makes batting gloves that have been through rigorous testing and provide better protection on top of their hands and wrists.

Xprotex Protective Batting Gloves
Xprotex Protective Batting Gloves

The Advanced Impact Composite (AIC) gel is placed in strategic positions on the gloves and can reduce the impact of a pitch by 60 percent, ultimately turning a 100 mph pitch into a 40 mph pitch.

“Our product cuts the possibility of injury by wearing something most batters already wear,” Pete Vitiello, VP of Xprotex protective batting gloves, said.

With the delicate bones in the hand, an injury can hinder the play of the game and sideline an athlete.

“If Alex Rodriguez had been wearing our gloves last year, he more than likely would not have broken his hand,” Vitiello said.

Alex Rodriguez begins this year on the disabled list and will be out for almost nine months.

Another company has improved football helmets that reduce G-force to a player’s head by 50 percent.

With concussions and brain injuries on the rise, the use of technology and creating new ways to prevent injury is becoming more and more relevant.

Using a variety of motor skills by playing several sports can not only help kids bodies grow properly but also allow them to decide what sport they like the most.

Terry Zeigler, a Doctor of Education, writes extensively on the issue of youth related injuries.

“In the past, multi-sport athletes were the norm in junior high and high school sports and not the exception,” Zeigler said. “Unfortunately, as the desire to develop elite competitive young athletes has risen in recent years, multi-sport athletes have become a thing of the past.”

Many kids tire of the sport they play and many end up quitting after high school––focusing solely on one sport can often be a mistake and has the potential to cause injury.

The American Orthopedic Society for Sports Medicine and STOP Sports Injuries have resources to help prevent injury and a sport specific tip sheet at STOP Sports Injuries.

The possibility of one’s child becoming the next Michael Jordan are pretty slim, but keeping them safe through proper training, protective gear and correct information, will allow them to progress to whatever their dreams may be.