Preventing overuse injuries in young athletes

“Postural strength and coordination are essential for injury prevention and sports performance.”


Harris, MD, The Sports Medicine Guide

Overuse injuries happen when a young athlete inappropriately overloads their muscles and bones repeatedly and

over time this may result in micro-trauma to the tendons, ligaments, bones and joints.Gradual onset of pain, no history of direct injury, decreased performance, loss of strength, stiffness or aching after or during exercise, increased frequency of pan, point tenderness, swelling (oedema), limping, decreased range of motion, missed training sessions as a result of pain or injury or symptoms that persist are signs of overuse injuries that should be evaluated. Unlike other kinds of sudden, painful injuries, overuse injuries are more subtle and usually not apparent at first. Overuse injuries encompass a broad range of conditions, including tendonitis, patellofemoral (knee) pain, and irritation of the growth plate (apophysitis), stress fractures, jumper’s knee, and Osgood-Schlatters disease. These signs and symptoms should not be ignored as ‘growing pains’ but should be taken seriously by the athlete, parent, and coach. The best way to prevent overuse injuries is to make sure that young athletes are listening to their body and communicating with their parents when they are having pain.

An overuse injury can be the result of overtraining or increasing the physical activity level too fast, or else it is due to improper biomechanical technique or poor posture. Overuse injuries are often predisposed to by poor posture causing biomechanical dysfunction and muscle imbalance. This can result in muscle groups, tendons, and ligaments working differently to compensate for the weaker areas that fail to carry their fair share of the athletic load. Whatever the cause, an overuse injury can end up side-lining the young athlete. Osteopaths can help young athletes be more aware of their bodies and understand that these physical factors may impact on their sporting success. The daily overuse of any body part will potentially not only lead to injuries, but can also contribute to problems and pain that can last for years.

It’s also wise to make sure that your child learns the correct mechanical technique/proper form for each sports specific exercise from an appropriately qualified coach or trainer

Seeing an osteopath when involved in youth sports helps prevent injuries and/or manage existing injuries while improving athletic performance. Osteopathic treatment includes diagnosis, myofascial release, joint articulation and release, massage, cranial osteopathy and, advice on posture and correct biomechanical movement. Implementing routine osteopathic care throughout sports-related activities can decrease neck and back pain and will allow your children’s joints to function better in the activities that they love.

Osteopaths are experts in the field of human biomechanics, they are very aware of proper posture and movement. By observing an athlete, an osteopath can often detect and prevent a structural problem that can lead to injury or poor performance. Anyone who engages in sport can benefit from an osteopathic check-up to ensure that their spine, posture and muscles are balanced and free to function optimally. When the spine, pelvis and associated muscles are is brought into balance and alignment, the body’s nervous system and body biomechanics (movement and posture) are maximized.

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