More on overuse injuries
A couple of posts ago I wrote about the problems of overuse injuries in youth sports, including fastpitch softball. It’s a phenomenon that’s growing, often due to a combination of specializing in one sport too early and not taking breaks.
Since that time I’ve found a couple of other articles that also talk about this issue. Both are from the Science Daily website. The first is this one, which quotes some sports medicine specialists who talk about the value of playing multiple sports.
The more interesting one to me, though, was this one, which says that nearly 30 percent of all college athlete injuries are a result of overuse. It goes on to say “a majority of overuse injuries (62 percent) occurred in females athletes, according to a new study published in the current edition of the Journal of Athletic Training, the National Athletic Trainers’ Association scientific publication.” And, it says, field hockey, softball, soccer and volleyball have the highest rates of overuse injuries.
Think about that. We’re not talking about young children anymore. These are collegiate athletes, many of whom are no doubt getting money for school in exchange for playing. Their muscles have matured, as have their bone structures – and their knowledge of their own bodies.
How does this happen? A big part of it is coaches driven to win because their jobs depend on it. They run drills over and over, and conduct extended practice sessions – as much as the NCAA rules will allow. They throw their #1 pitcher game after game, because of course the fastpitch pitching motion is “natural” and therefore requires no rest. Yeah, right.
The big problem is not just the injury itself according to the article. It’s also the toll it takes psychologically on the players. Once these overuse injuries occur, they can affect recovery time and performance.
We’re not talking about sore arms after the first practice. While that’s not a good thing, it can happen if your players aren’t in game shape. But they can recover quickly from these problems with a little rest. Overuse injuries tend to linger, though. And the more you over-use, the worse the issue gets.
If you’re a coach, it’s important to be aware of these risks. Conducting brutal four-hour practices may not be getting you where you want to go; it may be hurting you. Instead, try running two-hour practices that are more efficient in their use of time.
If you’re a parent and you’re seeing this type of injury in your daughter, don’t just sit idly by. Speak up. Show the coach some of these articles and let him/her know the risks. Because if you don’t and your daughter ends up unable to play, the coach will find someone else. The game must go on. In the meantime, your daughter will be watching from the sidelines. Perhaps in a sling.