By Jennifer Mohns, DPT
Does your child complain of pain after playing sports? Is your child the smallest or slowest player on the field? Do you worry that your child will sustain a sports-related injury?
If you answered yes to any of the above questions, it may be beneficial to enroll your child in an injury prevention program. More and more children are participating in highly competitive sport activities between 5-7 days per week starting as early as age 6. This high level of activity without recovery time puts the children (6-12) and adolescents (13-18) at risk for over-use injuries as well as traumatic injuries such as ACL tears or tibial plateau fractures. These types of injuries can be easily prevented through screening of each child, education based on their sport and body, and by participating in a stretching and strengthening program specific to each child.
A recent research study reveals that 50% of pediatric patients present to sports medicine medical doctors or physical therapists with chronic or over-use sports related injuries. Not only are these injuries detrimental to the health and growth of the child but they also result in high medical costs, many physician visits, lost sports participating time, as well as lengthy and continuous rehabilitation sessions.
As children grow it is important to give the body time to heal and recover between sports activities. Children can begin strength training as early as 6 years old, however, training should be very light. Weight lifting is inappropriate for young children and should not be introduced until the child has physical matured. It is important to note that reaching puberty, follow by maturity of the musculoskeletal system, is a more important physical event than actual chronological age. Beginning high stress, competitive, consistent sport activity at too young an age can hinder proper growth and only create more injury in children.
When done properly, strength training offers a variety of benefits to children and adolescents. Light resistance and controlled movements in combination with proper technique and safety are the best ingredients for early strength training. Many studies have revealed evidence based on the importance of protective gear, stretching, and nutritional elements but are missing the most important part of injury prevention: EDUCATION.
The most important aspect of injury prevention is teaching the child about their body, their specific sport, and how to prepare and protect their bodies.
The injury prevention program offered at Boston Sports Medicine offers the following:
– Screening for current injuries, postural dysfunctions, and muscular imbalances
– Education about the musculoskeletal system including:
- The muscles and bones- anatomy
- How to stretch and strengthen each muscle
- Importance of proper nutrition
– Education for running, cutting, pivoting and how to protect against ACL or other common injuries
– Strength training specific to each child
– An individualized home program
The Boston Sports Medicine Injury Prevention Program is held in our Allston office on Tuesday/Thursday mornings 9:30-10:45 as well as Monday/Wednesday evenings 4:00-5:15. Feel free to contact Dr. Mohns at 617-787-8700 for more information or to sign up.
Dr. Mohns is a Physical Therapist at Boston Sports Medicine