Children and Overuse Injuries

One of the most important elements of a child’s physical and psychological development is running, jumping, and being out in the fresh air. To combine all of these activities into one that also teaches teamwork and discipline, many parents sign their children up for organized sports. Unfortunately, an excess in activity can be dangerous and lead to overuse injuries.

Children’s overuse injuries are not a result of an isolated incident but rather a buildup of physical exhaustion over time, when the growing body is not allowed sufficient time to recuperate between activities. When the muscles and bones particular to a sport are under constant stress, it can cause permanent damage and even interfere with the child’s natural growth patterns.

There is an overwhelming number of injuries that stem from overuse, including:

  • Strains and sprains – Virtually any sporting activity places substantial strain on the muscles, tendons, and ligaments. These soft tissues must be allowed proper rest to avoid injury.
  • Stress fractures – Occurring in the weight-bearing bones of the lower leg and foot, stress fractures result from a transfer of the excessive stress from the fatigued muscles to the bones. This interferes with bone regeneration and causes cracks to appear. Activities like cross-country running pose the highest risk for the injury.
  • Sinding-Larsen-Johansson disease – Also known as “jumper’s knee,” this injury occurs due to repetitive stress on the patellar tendon that is attached to the growth plate in the knee. This may also lead to inflammation and tissue damage in the kneecap, a condition known as patellar tendinitis. Participants of volleyball, basketball, and other jumping sports are most susceptible to the injury.
  • And many more!

As with most childhood injuries, overuse injuries will typically disappear with appropriate treatment. However, some of the more severe conditions resurface in adulthood and lead to severe repercussions that could have been avoided early in life.

Sports Medicine Specialists Near You

As a parent, it is normal to be concerned about the level of physical activity that is right for your child. That is why we are here: At Coastal Orthopedics Sports Medicine & Pain Management, we have a highly trained and dedicated team of sports medicine specialists across the Sarasota/Bradenton area who are always prepared and eager to help.

In consensus with the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, we recommend that children play no more than a single sport per season and that they have adequate rest between games and practices. We also warn parents against allowing a child to engage in a single sport year-round, as lack of breaks deters from skill development and elevates the risk of injuries.

If your child sustains an overuse injury, rest assured that our three locations and our sophisticated surgery center are available to you. For any questions or concerns, please feel free to reach out to our sports medicine specialists today!