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About Sickkids
About SickKids

October 12, 2011

SickKids Expert Alert: Year-round athletes at risk for adult-like injuries

As the professional hockey season begins, baseball players are almost heading into the off season, but for an increasing number of young athletes there are no breaks.

Many children start specializing in one sport from an early age, becoming year-round athletes who play longer, harder and take less time away from their sport. “With less of a break and more intensive training, these young athletes are not only at higher risk of overuse injuries, but they are also presenting with more adult-like injuries like ACL tears and concussions,” says Dr. Lucas Murnaghan, Orthopaedic Surgeon at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids).

The high-intensity training required to compete at elite levels can be considered extreme even for fit adults. The pressure to succeed is not just about outdoing opponents but also beating personal bests. “It’s often hard for young athletes to think about the big picture. They want to push through the pain for the next big game.”

The diagnosis of overuse injuries, like stress fractures and tendonitis, can depend on the athlete’s communication. These injuries can be difficult to detect because many children don’t tell their coach or parent that they are in pain out of fear of missing a game. An injury that is identified and treated early has better recovery outcomes, making it essential that coaches recognize signs of injury and prevent them through safe and varied training.

The commitment to regular physical activity is important for people of all ages and the goal is to continue being active into adulthood. “Children should be encouraged to participate in a variety of physical activities and develop a range of skills. If a child wants to focus on one sport, it’s important that it’s for the right reasons,” says Murnaghan. “It should be fun and the child should always feel comfortable to take a break if they are experiencing pain or stress.”  

For more information, please contact:

Matet Nebres
The Hospital for Sick Children
Phone: 416-813-6380
email: matet.nebres@sickkids.ca

Caitlin McNamee-Lamb
The Hospital for Sick Children
Phone: 416-813-7654 ext. 1436
email: caitlin.mcnamee-lamb@sickkids.ca