Overuse Injuries in Teen Athletes

Overuse Injuries in Teen Athletes hover background

Apr 06

Overuse injuries in teens occur when there is repeated micro-trauma to bone, muscle or tendon which has not had enough time to heal properly as a result of doing “too much, too fast and too soon.” Areas that are commonly affected are the shins, knee, shoulders, hips and elbows. You might have heard words such as shin splints, jumper’s knee, thrower’s shoulder or tendonitis.

Teens are more at risk because their bones, muscles and tendons that are undergoing rapid growth and are more susceptible to the micro-trauma due to a rapid turnover of tissue.

There are risk factors which include:

  • Training errors such as too much repetitive overload and overtraining is common.
  • Early specialization in sports and year-round involvement in multiple sports increase the risk.
  • Poor technique done repetitively can cause problems.
  • Genetic issues such as flat feet, excessive stiffness or flexibility which cause biomechanical problems.
  • Equipment problems such as worn, badly fitting and inappropriate shoes.

Your teen athlete might have one or more of these risk factors, but as a rule, the more of these factors your child has, the more likely an injury will happen. The earlier the injury is noticed, the better. The severity of the overuse injury your teen is facing, can be recognized by when the pain comes on with activity. The stages from early to latter are as follows:

  • Pain after physical activity
  • Pain during activity but does not restrict performance
  • Pain during activity that affects performance
  • Pain even at rest

The best cure, is in fact prevention, and the following simple advice can go a long way to keeping your teen overuse injury free:

  1. Avoid burnout
  2. Remember sport should be fun
  3. Allow 2 to 3 days off from sport a week
  4. Don’t increase training time, repetitions, distance by more than 10% each week
  5. Avoid too many sports that occur all year-round
  6. Allow some time off during the year for a specific sport
  7. Good fitting shoes and replace if worn excessively
  8. Always adopt a good technique

If you are struggling with an overuse injury with your teen you should rest but equally important is rehabilitation to reduce the forces on the injured area. This can be done with strengthening, stretching and physical therapy. Our physical therapists and Above and Beyond Physical Therapy will help with this and help your teen athlete recover from overuse injuries and get back in the game. Contact us today.


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