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Sports are a great way to keep kids physically active.
Ruth Marsh said, “I’ve played pretty much every single sport besides volleyball.“
Harmony Nix said, “I’ve played soccer and done ballet.“
Kishan Jayanthi said, “I play all the sports.“
But more than a third of injuries in kids are sports-related. A researcher from Emory University looked at data from 1,200 young athletes over a three-year period and found that for kids under 12, “Those that specialized were more likely, about one-and-a-half times likely, to report an injury,“ said Neeru Jayanthi, MD, Director of Tennis Medicine, Emory Sports Medicine Center.
When they start specializing too young, “You have to acknowledge that their risk of injury and burnout is just higher,“ said Doctor Jayanthi.
The study also found that kids are playing more organized sports twice as much as they’re playing for fun, which can lead to overuse injuries. So what can parents do? Delay sport specialization until their child is 12.
Doctor Jayanthi said, “Encourage more seasonal participation, maybe have a three-month period where they’re either taking off or resting.“
Another thing is making sure your young athlete is training fewer hours per week than their age.
Doctor Jayanthi said, “So if you are like 14 years old, train less than 14 hours per week.“
Proper warmups and cool downs are critical.
Ruth Marsh said, “Especially as I get older and matches and everything is a little more intense, a little more physical, it’s important to make sure your body can like keep up with that.“
But the most important thing is just to have fun.
One interesting thing from the data that the researchers found was that kids from higher socioeconomic backgrounds actually reported more injuries than kids from lower socioeconomic backgrounds.
The researcher suggests that kids from higher socioeconomic backgrounds had more resources to play organized sports more often which could lead to more serious overuse injuries.