Spring is right around the corner and that means baseball is back along with many other sports. Kids and parents alike love sports. So it is natural to have your children play sports. Many kids these days play sports all year round, from travel teams to local rec leagues. But are we pushing our children too far?
That is what Dr. James Andrews believes. He has been outspoken about young athletes taking a break from sports from time to time. He might be right about all of this. It seems more and more kids are having major surgeries and injuries from ACL surgery to Tommy John’s surgery. We all know about these surgeries and Dr. Andrews from all the professional athletes we cheer for every year.
Dr. Andrews did an interview with The Plain Dealer discussing all of these issues. Here is part of that article:
Andrews, who has practiced medicine for nearly 40 years, is most famous for his ability to put professional athletes back together. These athletes — notably, a who’s who of quarterbacks — have signed contracts for a combined total well north of $1 billion after his surgeries. In 2010, Andrews was the only doctor to be named among the top 40 most powerful people in the NFL by Sports Illustrated.
Andrews’ specialties are knees, elbows and shoulders. One of his recent patients was Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III, who needed the anterior cruciate ligament and lateral collateral ligament repaired in his right knee.
The work on athletes, while important, isn’t the reason Andrews collaborated with Don Yaeger, a former associate editor at Sports Illustrated, to write, “Any Given Monday: Sports Injuries and How to Prevent Them, for Athletes, Parents and Coaches — Based on My Life in Sports Medicine.” He felt compelled to write the book, then talk about it, out of fear for the younger generation.
“I started seeing a sharp increase in youth sports injuries, particularly baseball, beginning around 2000,” Andrews told The Plain Dealer in a telephone interview. “I started tracking and researching, and what we’ve seen is a five- to sevenfold increase in injury rates in youth sports across the board. I’m trying to help these kids, given the epidemic of injuries that we’re seeing. That’s sort of my mission: to keep them on the playing field and out of the operating room.
“I hate to see the kids that we used to not see get hurt. … Now they’re coming in with adult, mature-type sports injuries. It’s a real mess. Maybe this book will help make a dent.”
Here are some quotes from Dr. James Andrews on this problem:
“Specialization and “professionalism” are leading to a spike in youth injuries
Specialization leads to playing the sport year-round. That means not only an increase in risk factors for traumatic injuries but a sky-high increase in overuse injuries. Almost half of sports injuries in adolescents stem from overuse.
Professionalism is taking these kids at a young age and trying to work them as if they are pro athletes, in terms of training and year-round activity. Some can do it, like Tiger Woods. He was treated like a professional golfer when he was 4, 5, 6 years old. But you’ve got to realize that Tiger Woods is a special case. A lot of these kids don’t have the ability to withstand that type of training and that type of parental/coach pressure.
The whole youth sports system has gotten out of control
The systems out there in youth sports, particularly travel ball, have been important financial resources for the people who run them. Parents spend a fortune keeping their kids in a year-round sport, with travel and everything else. What’s happening is, the tail is wagging the dog. The systems are calling the shots: If your son or daughter doesn’t play my sport year-round, he or she can’t play for me. Never mind that your kid is 12 — I need year-round dedication.
Simply giving kids a little bit of a break could prevent most of these injuries
Kids need at least two months off each year to recover from a specific sport. Preferably, three to four months. Example: youth baseball. For at least two months, preferably three to four months, they don’t need to do any kind of overhead throwing, any kind of overhead sport, and let the body recover in order to avoid overuse situations. That’s why we’re seeing so many Tommy John procedures, which is an adult operation designed for professionals. In my practice now, 30 to 40 percent of the ones I’m doing are on high-schoolers, even down to ages 12 or 13. They’re already coming in with torn ligaments.
Give them time off to recover. Please. Give them time to recover.
If you want to learn more about these injuries or how to help prevent them give us a call at one of our 3 offices.