By: Rick Bishop DC, CCSP®
The rising incidence of sports injuries among younger, amateur athletes is alarming, and to some degree, occurring in epidemic proportions. It is estimated that over 36 million young athletes between the ages of 5 and 18 participate in organized sports annually in the U.S. Many of these athletes are also participating in the same sport the entire year and in some cases, multiple teams at the same time.
Young athletes who are involved in sports that require throwing are experiencing pain and discomfort in their shoulders and elbows, requiring visits to sports physicians who see thousands of youngsters on an annual basis. Many of these injuries are sprains and strains at result from overuse. In many cases, these injuries can be preventable if the right steps are taken.
In addition to overuse, children begin organized sports at a very early age. Some children are not far removed from learning how to ride a bicycle or memorize the alphabet and are being asked to perform an unnatural physical activity, such as throwing a ball overhand. They are then being asked to do this multiple times in a day for a few days each week. A study performed by the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine in 2015 stated that athletes between the ages of 15 to 19 years old made up 56.7 percent of all Tommy John surgeries performed in the United States between 2007-2011, with that rate rising by an average of 9.1 percent per year.
What is the solution?
It is widely believed that some parents, coaches and their children are overlooking the importance of proper nutrition, physical conditioning and preparation needed for preventing injuries on and off the playing field. This includes proper warmup and stretching to decrease the incidence of Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS), which is soreness that occurs 12-72 hours following physical activity. As the old adage goes, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
- Here are a few tips that can decrease the risk of injury and keep athletes on the field!
Dynamic warmup to help activate specific muscles prior to activity and to increase the temperature of the body to allow muscles to become more elastic and flexible during activity.
Examples of these include:
- Light jogging
- Walking knee to chest
- Lunge and twist
- Squat jumps
- Do not play the same sport year round.
- Do not play with pain. Pain is your body’s “alarm system.” Therefore, do not ignore it!
Post-activity recovery is vital to allow the body to repair itself and minimize risk of injury.
- Sleep! Ideally 7-12 hours will help to increase mental health, hormonal balance, and muscular recovery.
- Fluid Replacement. Water makes up nearly 75 percent of our body’s composition. We lose fluid from perspiration during physical activity. Therefore, it is important to consume water before, during and after all activities to aid in the recovery process.
- Nutrition. Proper amounts of carbohydrates and protein following activity will assist the body in tissue growth and repair. Consuming foods rich in omega 3 fatty acids, such as cold-water fish, flaxseed oil, walnuts and spinach, can help reduce inflammation.
Of course, chiropractic manipulation to the spine and extremities can have a positive impact on athletic performance and injury prevention. Chiropractic care allows the joint to have greater range of motion and creates improved balance by minimizing joint dysfunction. Collectively, the combination of preventive care and chiropractic adjustments will enhance athletic performance.
When we feel better, we play better!
About the Author
Rick Bishop DC, CCSP® is an advisor to Athletic TIPS™ (Toward Injury Prevention in Sports), a program sponsored by the Foundation for Chiropractic Progress, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to increasing public awareness regarding the value of chiropractic care.
Dr. Bishop is a graduate of Sherman College of Chiropractic and has been in private practice in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania since 2005. He is the Executive Director of the Professional Baseball Chiropractic Society (www.probaseballchiros.com) and is also the visiting team chiropractic consultant at PNC Park in Pittsburgh.