The end of the Winter sports season is quickly approaching and with that comes playoffs! The student-athlete’s body is put through a lot with practice, games and strength and conditioning sessions. If your athlete is mentioning any pain, unusual soreness or injuries we highly recommend bringing them in for a check-up.

Did you know that high school athletes account for an estimated 2 million injuries, 500,000 doctor visits and 30,000 hospitalizations each year (Powell, JS & Barber Foss, KD, 1999)? An online survey conducted by SafeKids Worldwide (2014) found that 90% of young athletes reported having suffered an injury while playing a sport. Additionally, 54% of athletes said they have played injured and 70% who played injured had told a coach or parent they were injured. The most common injuries to play with were sprains (27%), general pain (21%) and bruises (14%).

The prevalence of injuries has increased over the years and among increasingly younger athletes. It has been speculated that athletes are suffering more overuse injuries because they are specializing in a single sport at a younger age. Specializing in a single sport not only reduces the athlete’s movements to only those in that particular sport (e.g. throwing in baseball), it also often means the sport is played year-round with club and travel teams. The athlete no longer engages in a well-rounded variety of physical movements, like they would if they played baseball, soccer and cross country AND they no longer get a break from those physical demands. It’s easy to see how injuries have become so prevalent.

What can we do about it? The first thing we’d recommend is to schedule an appointment with one of our doctors to assess your athlete’s ability to move properly. If your athlete moves well, their body will be better able to handle the demands placed on it and their risk for injury will be less than the athlete who does not move well. Additionally, if your athlete has an injury they’re dealing with, it’s best to seek help to fully rehabilitate the injury. A study by Knowles, Marshall & Guskiewicz (2006), found the probability of subsequent injury during a season when the athlete has already suffered one injury is 45.5%. The probability for subsequent injury if the athlete has already had two injuries is 80%! The number one cause of injury is previous injury.

We understand the stakes and the competitive nature of student-athletes and we know how much they hate to be sidelined. We do our best to keep them in the game, even during the rehabilitation phase of an injury. Sometimes it’s possible, sometimes it’s not. But, they likely have a far greater risk of re-injury and missing more game time if they do not fully rehab, or worse yet, they ignore, an injury.

The second thing we’d recommend is cross training. Even, if you have a single-sport athlete, incorporate endurance and strength training that broadens their overall movements. If their sport relies heavily on lower body activity, add more upper body and core training. Yoga and Pilates are also beneficial practices to increase flexibility and mobility throughout the body. If you’re not sure what to do, we can help you figure it out.

Don’t wait until the season is over. Get your athlete’s body assessed, treated and tune up so they can avoid fatigue and finish the season strong and ready for playoffs!

Powell, J.S., & Barber Foss, K.D. (1999). Injury patterns in selected high school sports: a review of the 1995-1997 seasons. Journal of Athletic Training. 34: 277-84.

SafeKids Worldwide (2014). Changing the Culture of Youth Sports., S. B., Marshall, S. W., & Guskiewicz, K. M. (2006). Issues in estimating risks and rates in sports injury research. Journal of athletic training , 41(2), 207–215.