So your young athlete is preparing to do one sport year-round?
Weston Medical Sports Medicine physician, Dr. Erik Kuyn, MD, though, says “not so fast my friends.”
“It sometimes boggles your mind about what’s going on,” Dr. Erik Kuyn says. “We’re talking about 11 & 12 year olds that are coming in for overuse issues, like rotator cuff tendinitis and lateral epicondylitis (tennis elbow). We don’t give kids adequate time to rest, adequate downtime.”
Dr. Kuyn said he saw many youngsters with these issues while doing his Sports Medicine Fellowship in Cleveland, at a local high school and at a pediatric clinic. He says that the trend of younger age groups using curveballs and other off-speed pitches year-round is causing them to wear out their arms.
Numerous research studies back up Dr. Kuyn’s assessment. Throwing puts excessive stress on the elbow and young players are now requiring elbow surgery at an alarming rate. “Repetitive trauma, repetitive activities- is a real downfall for young athletes.”
Kuyn maintains that it hasn’t always been that way. He suggests rest and/or a different sport can help remedy the problem.
“If you are a multisport athlete, it’s beneficial in several ways. You get the chance to recover from the initial sport you were playing. Let’s say you were a football player and you were playing as a running back – you would take a lot of wear and tear on the knees, on the ankles – even concussions,” he said. “But if you decide – ‘ I’m gonna go play baseball or basketball for a season or a half a season,’ then you don’t get the trauma from wearing the pads and getting hit all the time, so you could use some muscles you aren’t using as much.”
And in this particular case of youth sports participation, Dr. Kuyn says parents don’t always know best.
“I think the biggest detriment happens on the parents’ side – parents trying to live vicariously through their kids, pushing them and pushing them,” Dr. Kuyn said. “Yet the parents aren’t the ones doing the repetitive activity, and kids, they often want to make their parents happy. So, if we can relieve that parental peer pressure, their special athlete will be a lot better off.”