HOW TO PREVENT HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS INJURIES WITH PROPER OFF-SEASON TRAINING

Almost unbelievably, the school year is drawing to a close and the big “S” word is upon us. SUMMER!

That means plenty of swimming, vacations, yard work, and cookouts. For our young athletes, it also means a summer workout regimen or skill/conditioning camps.

To these athletes and their parents, I want to urge a certain sense of caution in order to reduce the risk of common and unnecessary stress injuries during off-season training.

In middle school and even in high school, a child’s body develops rapidly. Children on the same teams will be at various stages of development. Therefore, not all young athletes should be training the same way.

As a physician and a father of young athletes, I urge you to guide your children to train thoughtfully and carefully this summer. Remind them to place emphasis on FORM and TECHNIQUE versus lifting the heaviest weight possible.

I see two common injuries in high school-aged athletes which can be largely avoided with education and mindful training habits.

Common Sports Injuries in Youth Athletes

SPONDYLOLYSIS.

The first condition is a common stress-related injury to the pars interarticularis, which is a specific section of the vertebrae. Repetitive hyperextension of the lumbar area can lead to stress fractures in the vertebrae, resulting in inflammation and pain over time. 

Many young athletes come to me with complaints of ongoing back pain, often in the lower back, which is irritated with extension and movement. This condition is called spondylolysis.

The best and first element of treatment is, of course, rest and restriction of motion. Another equally important element of treatment is nutrition and metabolic support (vitamins, supplements).

Many young athletes don't give enough attention to their nutritional intake and may leave their bodies lacking in the vitamins and nutrients needed to maintain strong bones as their bodies grow.

ACL TEAR.

The second common injury on my mind is the dreaded ACL tear.

While the treatment and repair of this injury has advanced tremendously in the past decade, it can still be a very disruptive injury at best and possibly a career-ending injury at worst.

Again, summer training can be intense and repetitive so MAKE SURE YOUR ATHLETE IS TRAINING PROPERLY.

How to Prevent High School Sports Injuries with Proper Off-Season Training

Two BIG tips for reducing the risk of ACL tears, spondylolysis, and other stress related injuries are:

JUMP FORM TRAINING

For boys and ESPECIALLY girls, it is critical to focus on the correct form when using plyometrics in training. Keeping the body and joints properly aligned when jumping and landing can prevent unneeded stress on the ACL.

I see far too many patients who are training with poor form and teaching their body bad habits. Please refer to this link as an example of proper jump form.

PELVIC GIRDLE STRENGTH AND FLEXIBILITY

Keeping the “core” strong begins with training the pelvic girdle for strength and flexibility.  Large muscle groups connect to this region and it is CRITICAL for muscle balance and spine support.

If the core is weak and not functioning well, balance and alignment will be off everywhere in the body and an injury is simply a matter of time. Here are two links as a start:

Practice Proper Form & Technique to Prevent Sports Injuries.

This summer, please encourage and guide your children to focus on a couple of these key elements as they engage their fitness and training programs. Don’t ignore pain in the back and joints as this may be an early warning sign of an oncoming stress injury.

Noble Pain and Sports Medicine will help you PREVENT and RECOVER from these conditions so please call our office today to make an appointment! 

Thank you and have a fantastic start to your summer!

Trading your pain for action with cutting-edge healthcare,

Dr. Chad Stephens, D.O.

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