Keeping teens injury free

Teens playing soccer
The injury risk for teens has increased with year-round participation in sports. Image via Pixabay

Sports-related injuries are becoming more and more widespread among teens. With the rise of Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) events, club teams and offseason camps, student athletes have the opportunity to focus year-round on their favorite sports. Injuries that once affected mostly college and professional athletes now are increasingly common with teenage athletes. By following the appropriate precautions, teens can limit the chances of injury.

Previous injury

A history of previous injury is one of the most common risk factors for subsequent injury. This is equally true for the risk of reinjuring the same area and hurting other areas of the body. Proper care and treatment, especially early in the course of injury, can prevent subsequent injuries.

Movement patterns

Repetitive movement due to competition and training can result in imbalances in the mobility and movement of the body that can be associated with injury. Repetitive motions like throwing a baseball can lead to injury due to overuse or improper technique. Altered movement when jumping, squatting or landing has also been shown to increase the risk of injury. Correcting mistakes in technique can prevent many injuries related to movement patterns.

Female athletic triad

Young female athletes face an added risk of sports-related conditions. The combination of disordered eating, menstrual dysfunction and low bone mass is known as the female athletic triad and has been associated with injuries to the muscles and bones. Healthy eating and training habits can prevent all three parts of the triad from developing.

Training tips to prevent injuries

Lower fitness levels and weakness in the feet, legs and core often cause injury in teens. Focusing on all-around strength and conditioning through cross training keeps the body balanced and less vulnerable to injury.

Proper training, coaching and management of injuries are important in reducing injuries and allowing young athletes to enjoy their sport. Teens who wish to reduce their risk of injury should consult with their coaches, trainers, physicians and therapists about suitable training strategies that are unique to them or their sport.

When an injury does occur, consult with the appropriate health professional to identify the source of the problem. A movement-based specialist such as a physical therapist can evaluate an athletic-related condition by screening for altered movement patterns and identifying the residual deficits in healing that pose a risk for injury recurrence. They can also provide recommendations for proper medical management of the injury.

Disclaimer: This content is created for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of a qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

Shane McClinton, D.P.T., Ph.D., OCS, FAAOMPT, CSCS

Shane McClinton is a physical therapist in the Des Moines University Physical Therapy Clinic.

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