Kids and Sports: All Pain, No Gain

FRESNO, Calif.

"In baseball players, I see pitchers 9-years-old come in with overuse injuries," Joel Shawl, M.D., a sports medicine physician at Grant Hospital in Columbus, Oh., told Ivanhoe.

High school athletes account for 2 million injuries, 500,000 hospital visits and 30,000 hospital stays each year. The patients are only getting younger.

"You're always using the same muscles, the same body parts over and over again, leading to overuse," Jeff Sczpanski, an athletic trainer, explained.

There are limits. Experts say kids under 9 shouldn't run more than 2 miles a day. From ages 12-14, that increases to 6 miles. In a sport like baseball, a 9-year-old pitcher shouldn't toss more than 75 balls a game. Boost that to 95 for 16-year-olds.

"I think the whole concept of 'no pain, no gain' has been a big problem, and that's where a lot of this has come from," Dr. Shawl said.

According to Dr. Shawl, the taut hamstrings and strong quads in a soccer player could lead to hip, knee, and back problems.

"A lot of the problems in baseball are back strain," Dr. Shawl said.

In basketball, ankle and knee injuries may mean arthritis.

Playing through pain is really just postponing that pain for another day.

Here's a good method to test whether your child has an overuse injury. If your kid is compensating -- running differently, favoring one arm, or changing his or her technique -- that's a sign that he or she needs an extended break from the game.

STOP Sports Injury Organization
The American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine
(877) 321-3500

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