Safety Information for Young Athletes
Sports Injury Prevention
Each sport places different demands on a young athlete's body. Knowing the risks of each sport and the basics of injury prevention can keep your young athlete on the field. Our experts recommend the following to help prevent injuries in youth sports:
Stay focused on fun, not winning
Eating and resting well can improve performance and lower the risk of injury
Use your off-season to perform strength and conditioning programs and play other sports
Don't specialize in one sport at a very young age
Ease into pre-season training or camps with sport-specific training in weeks leading up to these intensive workouts
Train with educated coaches who care about safety
Don't specialize in one sport at a very young age
Elbow Injury Prevention in Young Athletes
Throwing elbow injuries in our youth are PREVENTABLE. Parents and coaches are advocates for their young athletes. They should know age-specific guidelines and recommendations for pitching. Parents and coaches shuold actively monitor counts as well as respond to early signs and systems of elbow problems. Read more about Elbow Injury Prevention with Throwing.
Knee Injury Prevention
Our research has shown that prompt and proper treatment of knee injuries, including ACL tears, helps to prevent long term or future complications. The best way to prevent these problems is to prevent the initial knee injury. This serious problem, and many others, for young athletes needs further study.
With all that is known about knee injuries, many programs have been developed to try to reduce the risk of knee injuries in young athletes. Several have shown promise in good, quality research reviews.
Here are some key concepts in knee injury prevention:
Non-contact knee injury – some injuries occur when players collide with each other or the ground. A non-contact knee injury occurs with twisting or forceful motions of the knee that do not include a collision. These are the injuries that injury prevention programs attempt to reduce.
Neuromuscular training – exercises used to train the body to perform certain moves more safely without conscious thought
Warm-up program – a set of strategic pre-game exercises designed to warm-up muscles, lengthen muscles, and prepare the body for the demands of the sport
When an injury, a big loss, or maybe a big life change gets an athlete "off his game," psychologists can be a big help. Techniques used for improving focus and staying positive, that help with recovery, can be used to make a good, healthy athlete an even better athlete. Don't miss these tips for your young athlete from our team, including Erica Force, Ph.D., a psychologist with special training in pediatrics and sport psychology.
Growth Plates – Skeletal Immaturity
If an athlete is skeletally immature, that means their growth plates have not yet sealed and the athlete is still growing. Open growth plates are at risk of injury from repetitive and forceful activities. There are varying levels of skeletal maturity, each calling for different considerations when developing a treatment plan.
Overuse injuries can be prevented. Compared to an acute injury that occurs during a single event, overuse injuries are caused by repetitive activities or sudden increases in training intensity. When body tissues are repeatedly stressed with throwing, running and jumping, the tissues become inflamed and, in some cases, permanently damaged. Rest is a must, and sometimes other treatment is required. Recognizing early warning signs of overuse injuries is important for young athletes because most overuse injuries will resolve with appropriate rest.
Read more about elbow injuries in throwing athletes.
Sports Nutrition - Healthy Living for Young Athletes
Keys for Success:
Eat a good breakfast and snacks throughout the day
Drink water throughout the day, not just around training and competition
Learn how to read food labels to help make good choices
To learn more about these and other nutrition tips for young athletes, view our PDF of this information.
Water is a very important component of a young athlete's nutrition plan. Drinking ample water throughout the day, including during and after an event, will fuel optimal performance by keeping the body cool and energy levels up, helping the athlete stay alert and focused, and by promoting optimal recovery after the event is over. To learn more about hydration for the young athlete and get ideas of hydrating foods and drinks to incorporate into the athlete's nutrition plan, view our PDF of this info.
Supplement Smarts – Facts for the young athlete
A supplement is a vitamin, mineral, herb / botanical, amino acid or enzyme found in tablet, capsule or powder form as well as in drinks and energy bars. While the labels may claim results like increased energy and lean muscle and may appear to have simple ingredients, these claims and the ingredients listed in these products are not strictly regulated by the FDA and may contain unlabeled ingredients that the young athlete should not have.
If you want to know what to say if your young athlete wants to take a supplement, check out this article or PDF on this topic.
Frequently referred to as minimally invasive surgery, arthroscopy is a surgical technique that uses very small incisions to take care of problems inside a joint. With special training, a pediatric orthopedic surgeon, like Philip Wilson, M.D. or Henry Ellis, M.D., can use these specialized tools and a video screen to take care of large joints in children. Watch this video to see how an arthroscope works and the very small incisions it leaves behind.