Archive for the ‘Eastern Shore Parents articles’ Category

Sport Specialization: Is it Safe? Is it Necessary?

Posted on: December 29th, 2019

Albert Jay Savage IV, MD

(June 2020) Youth sports have surged across the country, and a weekend drive around Eastern Shore ballparks proves we’re part of that trend.  By all accounts, the physical, mental and emotional benefits of individual and team sports are well documented.  From a sports medicine perspective however, this boom in youth sports has raised some alarm:   increasing “sport specialization” at a young age means an increase in youth sports overuse injuries, too.

Doesn’t My Child Need to Focus on One Sport?

Sport specialization has been defined as “year-round intensive training in a single sport, at the expense of other sports.”  Some parents reading this may be skeptical , as conventional wisdom suggests young athletes determined to “up their game” as they age will fall behind if not working consistently on their skills.    However, a quick dive into current research reveals some surprises:  (1) most players in Division 1 athletics did not pursue early specialization, (2) baseball pitchers from colder climates that do not throw year-round tend to excel over those from warmer climates, and (3) early specialization may actually decrease the likelihood that an athlete will reach an elite level.

Furthermore, studies find overuse injuries consistently linked with the following risk factors: (1) a high level of sports specialization, (2) playing their sport for more than 8 months of the year, and (3) playing their sport for more hours per week than their age. 

child throwing baseball

Tips to Prevent Youth Sports Overuse Injuries

Most overuse injuries can be prevented with proper training and common sense.

  • Learn to listen to your body and listen to what kids are telling you.
  • Remember that “no pain, no gain” does not apply here. 
  • These young athletes are not just little adults.  They have growing bones and soft tissues and are susceptible to different types of injuries.
  • Follow the 10 percent rule. In general, you should not increase your training program or activity more than 10 percent per week. This allows your body adequate time for recovery and response.

From a parent’s perspective I want my kids to enjoy playing sports –and to soak up the character traits and teamwork skills that healthy competition offers.  From my former athlete perspective, I know the value of hard work in reaching their greatest potential.    But all of us as parents can agree in the goal of safety first and foremost. Nothing is achieved when our children are sidelined with preventable injuries. 

The debate over single sport injuries is likely to grow along with the options and enthusiasm for youth sports overall.  I encourage parents and coaches to learn more – some great resources can be found at the American Orthopedic Society for Sports Medicine website, www.sportsmed.org.

Dr. Savage received his MD from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, followed by residency at the UAB Department of Orthopaedic Surgery. He is Board Certified and Fellowship Trained in Sports Medicine.

A Repetitive Problem – The One Sport Injury

Posted on: October 29th, 2019

Gregg Terral, MD

( August 2019) Summer break is over, kids are back in school and fall sports are in full swing from elementary to high school. With more and more young athletes under 12 focusing on just one sport and training year-round, we’ve seen a growing number of our younger patients with what’s called a “one sport injury” caused by repetitive movements.  The condition is called apophysitis.   

What Causes the One Sport Injury?

The apophysis is a growth plate that provides an attachment site for a muscle to attach to bone via a tendon. Apophysitis occurs due to repetitive or chronic traction at either the origin or insertion site. This is because the growth cartilage present in this younger age group is the weak link in the muscle-tendon unit and is prone to injury. Continuous stress can lead to injury with pain and swelling.

The knee is the most commonly seen site of apophysitis where the patellar tendon attaches to the upper tibia. Other common sites are the Achilles tendon at the heel, the lower part of the kneecap, the outer side of the foot), the inner elbow (Little League elbow), and shoulder (Little League shoulder). Runners, sprinters, and soccer players are especially prone to locations in the pelvis causing hip or groin pain.

child throwing baseball

Among athletes between the ages of 5 to 14, overuse injuries impact:

  • 27% of football players
  • 25% of baseball players
  • 22% of soccer players
  • 15% of basketball players
  • 12% of softball players *                                   
  • *American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons

How Can We Treat Overuse Injuries?

We treat all types of apophysitis with a period of rest, ice, activity modification, and potentially physical therapy depending on the condition severity. Depending on the location, a variety of straps, braces, and orthotics can aid in providing comfort, protection and stabilization of the involved site. Healing time varies from a few days to weeks or months depending on a patient’s willingness to rest and avoid contributing activities.

What Parents and Coaches Can Do

  • Have a pre-season wellness check to determine any health concerns that could lead to injury
  • Warm-up and cool-down before and after athletic activities
  • Use correct sport specific equipment
  • Train in proper techniques like throwing or running
  • Hydrate!  Drinking plenty of water maintains health and minimizes cramps
  • Play different positions or sports throughout the year to minimize overuse injury risk
  • Don’t  play with pain – allow time to rest and heal

Keeping those growing bones, joints and muscles healthy ensure the ultimate goal: a healthy lifetime love of sports, too.

Dr. Terral received his MD from Louisiana State University Medical Center in New Orleans, followed by residency in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, MS.  He is Board Certified and Fellowship Trained in numerous specialties including trauma-related musculoskeletal injuries and joint reconstruction.