Youth sports has become big business in the U.S. Between the ages of 5 and 18, 35 million children currently participate in some form of organized sports, many of them outside of school. Just looking at soccer alone, the number of active players has risen by over 630,000 in less than 15 years. Cost is increasing as well. Travel teams continue to steadily rise in popularity. With families packing up to attend a different tournament in a different city each weekend, these groups account for a staggering $7 billion segment of the travel industry. Of course, spending isn’t all that’s on the rise. As more children take the court, field, or rink, injuries continue to climb as well.
No one wants to think of their middle-schooler with a back, neck or even head injury, but it’s happening more and more frequently. In the case of the back, these injuries often result from strain or overuse. Parents are often surprised, having considered that their soccer player may strain a knee or their pitcher an arm. In many cases, it has never occurred to them that the back is susceptible as well. Afterall, isn’t it typically in adulthood that we must cope with the signs of wear and tear in our backs?
According to Dr. Neeru Jayanthi of Loyola Medicine in Maywood, Ill, lower back injuries are actually the third most common type seen in athletes under the age of 18. His study of 1200 student athletes found that many suffered from back-related injuries, and in many cases, the severity of these injuries was enough to sideline them for more than a month. Shocking news to many, but the important question is:
How can Youth Athlete Injuries be Avoided?
In addition to his findings, Dr. Jayanthi offers some sound advice to both parents and athletes to keep back injuries to a minimum. For instance, he suggests that children should not spend more hours than their age either playing or practicing sports each week. Additionally, because most of these injuries are based on repetitive motion such as bending over, he recommends that children mix it up. Don’t specialize in a single sport before late adolescence (something that goes against our current American tendencies) and spend more time engaged in unorganized, free play.
On top of Dr. Jayanthi’s recommendations, there are some common sense tips that can keep the back protected as well. Emphasize proper form and posture in your young athlete. Make sure they avoid undue strain on the back that may come from carrying heavy equipment or even backpacks. Also, investigate therapies that may help keep the back limber and protected.
Chiropractor care is safe for all ages and cannot only treat existing injuries but can help prevent new ones as well. Patients who regularly see a chiropractor experience greater flexibility and range-of-motion, both critical in avoiding injury.
If you are the parent of a young athlete in the Belmont or Gastonia, NC area, contact SouthEast Chiropractic: The Motion Centers and learn how our physicians may be able to keep your child playing happily and injury free. Simply click here to request a consultation.