Sports timeout might be needed

Short stuff: Health roundup

With spring finally in the air, plenty of kids are gearing up for summer sports. But for kids who have dedicated the three other seasons of the year to a single sport, summer may be the time to take a break or try something new.

Children’s Memorial Hospital’s Dr. Rebecca Carl says the hospital has seen an increase in over-use injuries in kids, including those as young as 10 or 11 who play one sport year-round. Without rest periods and time for cross-training, she says, young athletes are much more likely to suffer injuries.

Parents and players can face a great deal of pressure to play their chosen sport for as many seasons as possible. Carl says some parents also worry that they’ll deprive their child of a chance for future scholarships or athletic success if they take time off.

The problem, Carl says, is that when children get injured, it often involves their growth plates, which are immature bones not yet fully complete. Some injuries, particularly those involving the arms, can cause long-term damage if not treated sufficiently.

Carl encourages young athletes to cross-train by participating in other sports, even if two sports are played in the same season. Kids who love wrestling, for example, could try track in the spring and gymnastics in the winter to keep their entire bodies fit.

She tells parents to help their children understand that taking time off now may help them reach a more elite level of play later.

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