Whether your son or daughter is playing a sport year-round, participating in private lessons/coaching, or playing on an elite AAU or club team, young athletes and their parents are constantly looking for ways to elevate athletic performance. Unfortunately, focusing on one activity over the course of a year can be a recipe for your athlete to end up with an overuse injury, which causes time away from activity altogether and can be very frustrating.
In our Nationwide Children’s Sports Medicine clinics we regularly see young athletes with overuse injuries of all kinds. The most common overuse injuries we see affect the knee.“We are able to help athletes recover in our Functional Rehabilitation Program , using movement screening to help kids move more efficiently and avoid injuries after they have returned to play. Movement screening is a great tool used by health care providers to assess how a patient’s body parts work together while doing a few key movements that are important to both athletic and everyday activity. Staying injury-free and having fun is the best way to increase the engagement and elevate the performance of young athletes. Here are a few ideas to help your athlete move better and prevent overuse injuries:
Teaching kids to do an active or dynamic warm-up will help them to better prepare their bodies for the stress and strain of a practice or game. Doing things like high knees, butt kicks, side shuffles, skipping, and jumping jacks are all basic movements that are fun and great ways to warm-up. Overall the warm-up should take about 10 minutes, they should be breaking a sweat before the game starts!
Focus on Basic Movements
If your kids are old enough to be playing competitive sports, then they’re likely old enough to be doing some strength training Bodyweight squatting, lunging, and hip bridging exercises are great ways to get kids stronger. The key to strength training is doing these movements correctly before adding weight. Talk to your child’s coach, school athletic trainer, or school strength and conditioning coach about good form for basic movements.
Encourage Different Activities
Not everyone is going to be a multi-sport all-star but being involved in other activities allows kids to use different muscle groups and be challenged in different ways. This promotes overall athletic development and can help decrease the risk of overuse injury. Encourage picking up a new sport in the off-season or just get your kids outside to play!
Taking on these injury prevention tips can help your young athlete increase their level of enjoyment, performance, and help them stay injury-free!
Tyler Congrove, MS, AT, CSCS, is a certified athletic trainer with Nationwide Children's Sports Medicine and an assistant athletic trainer at Ohio Dominican University.
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