For young athletes, overuse injury tends to be a common part of the sporting experience. This type of sports injury, while not particularly serious, can cause pain, discomfort, and disrupt regular sporting activities.
In this post, we dive into this aspect of child health and examine all aspects of overuse injury in young athletes. Continue reading for more information on the prevention and treatment of this type of sports injury.
What is overuse injury?
Overuse injury refers to any type of muscle or joint injury that’s caused by repetitive stress. These usually occur as a result of training errors including too much physical activity and sporting technique errors.
There are many types of overuse injuries that affect muscles, ligaments, tendons, bones, and growth plates in children. Growth plates refer to the developing cartilage where bone growth takes place. These areas are generally weaker than nearby ligaments and tendons. Because of this, repetitive stress can lead to overuse injury in the growth plate and disrupt normal bone growth.
How do overuse injuries occur?
Unlike the past when children played a variety of sports, many kids these days prefer to stick to and specialise in one sport.
In highly competitive sports like rugby, cricket, and basketball, some children even end up playing on multiple sporting teams, increasing the risk of sports injury.
Continually using the same muscle groups accompanied by poor training techniques, can lead to overuse injuries, especially when these factors are compounded by overtraining and a lack of sufficient rest.
The presence of certain child health conditions can also increase the risk of overuse injury. As such, parents need to be mindful of children who display certain weaknesses in their health.
Symptoms of overuse injury
The primary symptoms of overuse injury include but are not limited to the following changes:
- Pain and swelling
- Changes in form or technique
- Decreased interest in sports practices
- Pain/discomfort during exercises
- Restricted movement
- Increasing pain as the injury becomes worse
- Enduring pain even in the absence of sporting activity
- Muscle/joint damage
If you notice any of these signs, you should take your child to a GP or Physiotherapist for treatment. By being proactive, you may be able to prevent long-term muscle or joint damage.
Tips to prevent overuse injury in young athletes
To prevent this type of sports injury, parents can take the following steps:
- Maintain at least 1 days rest each week for from sports or training
- Take an extended break for a few months every year (including a break from sports competitions)
- Play on only one team per season
- Maintain a consistent exercise and training schedule each week
- Take your child to a GP or sports physician if they complain about pain, fatigue, a lack of enthusiasm or joint problems
- Encourage children to try a variety of sporting activities
Coaches too can contribute to this process by ensuring that young athletes are being taught the correct techniques, are using the right gear, undertake a wide range of exercises including cross-training, and warm up and cool down properly.
How can South Coast Medical can help?
If you’re concerned that your child may be suffering from overuse injury or any other sports injuries, bring him or her to visit one of our highly trained physiotherapists: Their health and recovery is our priority.
If you notice any of the symptoms we’ve outlined above, don’t hesitate to request more information on how your child can be treated through our expert-led child health services.