As the rise in children playing sports has increased over recent years and the competitive nature in turn, there’s also been a rise in overuse injuries among children. While there’s plenty of benefits from playing sports from promoting physical and emotional well being of children and encouraging life-long habits of fitness and exercise, if not done carefully, there can also be significant risk of injury.

Unlike most injuries, overuse injuries are caused over time with repetition of specific activities without the appropriate time given to heal between playing and practices. Further, because children are still growing, they are at higher risk for injuries. The most common injuries often happen to the knee and foot though overuse injuries can affect muscles, ligaments, tendons, bones, and growth plates.

A large part of these is due to the uneven growing pattern that children are still experiencing. It’s important that athletes’ discomforts and pain are listened to as well as proper stretching and warming up before activity. It’s more important that if pain is being experienced that athletes do rest their body.

Other symptoms to look for:

  • Pain. This pain cannot be tied to an acute injury, such as from a fall. The pain often increases with activity
  • Swelling
  • Changes in form or technique
  • Decreased interest in practice

There’s also important steps to take in preventing overuse injuries including:

  • Limit the number of teams in which your child is playing in one season. Kids who play on more than one team are especially at risk for overuse injuries.
  • Do not allow your child to play one sport year round — taking regular breaks and playing other sports is essential to skill development and injury prevention.

If your child is experiencing these symptoms or regularly experiencing pain, it’s important to talk to their doctor and have regular checkups throughout the year.

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