Are Youth Sports Taking over Your Kid’s Life?
Posted by Jenn F. on Tuesday, September 16th, 2014
Every parent wants their kids to excel in all they do. Thus, it’s natural for parents to want their kids to be sports superstars. However, as parents we’re also cognizant of the stresses that the work/life balance can take on our own lives. The NY Times reports that parents are starting to “take back their family time” that feels robbed by coaches and after-school activities. For many of the 30 million kids involved in school sports, organized preseason practices stretch into summer — and “s’mores just don’t go with Gatorade,” as the writer puts it. We are reminded that the goal of parenting is not to be the most popular parent, but rather, character formation. Sometimes youth sports will just have to take a backseat to other priorities — and both your child and your coach will need to understand that. All parenting opinions aside, our NYC sports medicine doctors find that overindulgence in sports can cause overuse injuries with lasting consequences.
Youth Sports Injuries Are Widespread
The Cape Gazette reports that 9 out of ten kids have been injured while playing a sport. More than half of child athletes admit to playing while injured. Growth disturbances, chronic pain issues, knee degeneration, and arthritis development later in life are four possible long-lasting consequences of youth sports injuries. It’s easy for kids to brush off everyday aches and pains as “growing pains,” but we find that these complaints are often overuse injuries from sports they are playing.
Tips for Healthy Young Athletes
A lot of parents ask us, “AM I overworking my kid?” While the answer varies from kid to kid, there are a few general guidelines to go by. One study found that kids were injured less if they played more than one sport and made time for free-play. Also, researchers advise parents to limit their child’s youth sports activities to no more than one hour per year of their age; so, for instance, a ten-year-old would spend no more than ten hours a week at sports practice and competitions.
LAX Magazine recommends limiting teens to 16-20 hours a week of organized sports activities and making sure that their training workload never increases by more than 10 percent each week. If your child complains of aches and pains, treat it with RICE Therapy (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation), a warm bath, and children’s-strength ibuprofen or acetaminophen.
As a parent, it’s important to seek the best experience for your child, rather than simply scouting the best team. Establish a positive relationship with the coach and ask about overuse injury prevention. Find out if he or she has training in recognizing the signs of sports injuries. You can also work alongside a youth sports medicine doctor to see that your child receives individualized attention during these formative years. Explain to your child that there are many ways to contribute to a team — not just physically during gameplay, but also by cheering teammates on, bringing a positive attitude to the field or court, and having fun with the whole experience.
NYC Sports Medicine Professionals Keep Tabs on Your Young Ones
The professionals at The Center for Podiatric Care & Sports Medicine have experience in detecting, addressing, and treating sports injuries. Dr. Josef Geldwert has served as the official team doctor for Olympic athletes, marathon runners, professional lacrosse players, and others. We can take a close look at your child’s development, gait, and skeletal structure to find areas of potential compromise that are likely to become injured — and address those areas before the issue arises. We can talk to you about shoe choice, and buying the right protective gear for your child’s sport. Parents put too much confidence in their school’s coaches — many of whom are merely passionate parents, untrained in sports medicine. Book an appointment in Manhattan or Westchester here.
If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine. Dr. Josef J. Geldwert, Dr. Katherine Lai, Dr. Ryan Minara and Dr. Mariola Rivera have helped thousands of people get back on their feet. Unfortunately, we cannot give diagnoses or treatment advice online. Please make an appointment to see us if you live in the NY metropolitan area or seek out a podiatrist in your area.