The prevalence of injuries in young athletes is on the rise as more and more young children take upon more intense sports training. There are multi factorial reasons which contribute to overuse injuries in young athletes. Targeted interventions are necessary in prevention of these injuries.
Children have numerous benefits when they stay active and physically fit by participating in sports, however there is concern regarding safety of intense sports participation of young athletes. Almost 1/3rd to 50 percent of injuries in this age group is as a result of overuse.
Chronic overuse injuries are generally defined as injuries that occur because of increased levels of physiological stress without sufficient recovery time. A number of prevention strategies are available to prevent which target the athlete's neuro-muscular control mechanisms to reduce the likelihood of injury.
Numbers of extrinsic risk factors are often implicated in over use injuries.
These can occur in a number of scenarios. In the first scenario the athlete may attempt to rapidly increase training load after period of inactivity and this could result in stress fractures. In this situation the body does not have enough time to adapt to higher level of stress and is not adequately prepared to dissipate repetitive forces.
A second scenario is when an athlete attempts to participate at a level that exceeds individual’s skill level. There could be potential mismatch between skill and fitness level to that of imposed physical demand and can potentially lead to injury.
Coaches or PT masters at school should understand the physical fitness levels of children at school and design training in a way to provide appropriate progression of training.
Ways to prevent Overuse injuries:
1. A young athlete needs to be assessed in regards to readiness of running and his/hers relative risk of running related injury. Determining the fitness level before running, length of running and prior running injuries and previous sports needs to be documented.
2. Modifying training volumes for athletes who have recently undergone growth spurts are recommended to reduce stress on growing bones.
3. Provision of individualized training programs taking into account their fitness level, and injuries.