Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Hazards of Overscheduling Young Athletes

A big problem we see is that young athletes play in so many leagues that they have "no time" for sports performance training. The NCAA Sports Medicine Handbook states, "The student-athlete should be protected from premature exposure to the full rigors of sport. Pre-conditioning should provide the student- athlete with optimal readiness by the first practice."

Playing more sports does not equal a better athlete. Performing the proper strength and conditioning program in the pre-season, during the season, and in the post-season will improve performance dramatically and prevent injury. The National Strength and Conditioning Journal states, "Studies show that the incidence of overuse injuries sustained by young athletes could be reduced by 50% if more emphasis was placed on the development of fundamental fitness abilities before sports participation."

So many injuries are the result of the combination of poor technique and overtraining. We have seen too many young athletes (ages 8-18) come to our facility with a long list of musculo-skeletal injuries like stress fractures, acute and chronic muscle strains (hamstrings, calves, etc.), and ligament sprains (knees, ankles, etc.). This is NOT NORMAL! Most of these injuries start with an acute episode followed by chronic pain and loss of motion. They occur because the athlete is not properly balanced due to years of poor technique.

A good analogy for the importance of proper athletic technique is having your tires properly balanced on your car. Properly balanced tires allow the car to be driven faster, prevent uneven tire wear, permit the slowest rate of tread wear possible, and provide the greatest protection against blowout. The same goes for proper exercise technique and the human body, especially the musculo-skeletal system (bones, joints, muscles, ligaments and tendons).
The next blog will address a proper youth strength and conditioning program.
NCAA Sports Medicine Handbook 2009-2010, p. 6

Faigenbaum, A., Schram, J. Can Resistance Training Reduce Injuries in Youth Sports? Strength and Conditioning Journal 26(3) p18. 2004.

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