Vim & Vigor - Winter 2020 - GMC - 19

19

active lifestyle-because they're so
focused and it is so competitive,"
Matzkin says. "And we're seeing
more and more kids dropping out
by age 13 just because of the pressure. This is not good."
If a child loses interest in sports
at a young age, he or she is less
likely to be active into adulthood,
and that can have serious implications for health later in life.
The key is to give your kids a
break now so they can enjoy living
active lives later.

Serious, Lasting
Effects of Injury

PHOTO BY GETTY IMAGES

says. "We recommend one to two
days off per week."
That doesn't mean children
become couch potatoes on those
days, LaBella says, just that they take
a breather from the intense training
and practice of the chosen sport.
"They could ride a bike or go play
in the park with friends," LaBella
says. "Something that is lighter and
not the same repetitive activity."
Taking breaks from sports also
can help avoid burnout. Pushing
kids too hard too early can turn
them off to a life of activity.
"We're seeing kids dropping out
of sports-that is, giving up on an

1-2

Days of
rest each
week that's
recommended
for young
athletes
Source: American
Academy of
Pediatrics
Council on
Sports Medicine
and Fitness

Although some overuse injuries, such as stress fractures, are
resolved relatively easily with
treatment, therapy and rest, others
have lasting effects. Damage to the
ACL, a knee ligament, can lead to
premature arthritis later in life,
for example.
"Ten years ago, we might have
seen a 15- or 16-year-old with
an ACL tear, and we thought,
wow, that is young," Matzkin says.
"And now we're seeing kids as
young as 12 or 13. If you're 25
and you tear your ACL, when
you're 50 you're going to have
post-traumatic arthritis. But when
you're 15, you're going to be 35
or 40 and struggling with early
arthritis. If you tear your ACL,
we can reconstruct it. We can get
you back out playing sports. But
what we can't do is prevent the
consequences down the road."
Early arthritis, in addition to
being painful, can also make it
difficult for a person to stay active
later in life.
Of course, no review of sports
injuries is complete without looking at concussions, or traumatic
brain injuries.
Merril Hoge, a former NFL
player who retired because of a

concussion, co-authored a book
about sports concussions called
Brainwashed. He says parents need
to take an active role in protecting
their children from head injuries
when they play sports.
"Find out how your child's
program is run, what background
coaches have, whether coaches
are certified, whether they have
a protocol for head trauma," he
says. "How do coaches go about
practicing, especially in a contact sport? Are they matching
up kids of equal sizes and talents
and abilities?"
Ask the questions, he says,
and if you aren't happy with the
answers, take action-whether
that's insisting changes be made
to improve safety in the sports
program or moving your child to
another team.

Let Them Play

The risks of sports injuries are real
and should not be taken lightly.
But when it comes to your children, Hoge says, "not letting them
play a sport is not what's best
for them."
When you allow your children
to play sports-and help them
avoid injury and burnout-you're
setting them up for a lifetime of
physical and mental well-being.
"There are so many benefits
that kids get from participating in
sports-and not just physical benefits in terms of fitness, cardiovascular health, bone health, lower risk
of diabetes, lower risk of depression," LaBella explains. "It's great
for emotional health and social
connection. It has positive effects
on academic performance. It helps
kids become leaders. It helps them
make friends. It is infinitely better
to let them play sports than to prevent them from playing because of
a fear of injury." *
VIM & VIGOR SUMMER 2020

FdVSU20_16-19_NewsResearchInjuries.indd 19

2/18/20 9:40 AM



Vim & Vigor - Winter 2020 - GMC

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