Sports related injuries in pediatric patients have been on the rise for 2 decades. Most research has been on 13-18 year olds, but this discussion will be limited to the grammar school athletes. In this segment I will try to explain the theory of pediatric sports injuries in kids – part 1. These blogs are too short to give references for further studies and studies are boring.
Society has changed dramatically in the past 20 plus years. For instance, growing up in the 60’s and 70’s, most children were outside playing unsupervised sports. They were climbing trees, jumping off garage roofs and falling off bicycles. They got up and no one was there to rescue them from these minor injuries. During these very young years of 4-13, their bodies were learning their limits of strength and coordination. A good analogy is driving a car. If you can recall when you first started to drive, you were very attentive of everything you did. You watched your distance right and left and watched to make sure you didn’t hit the curb, and so on. After a while these things were controlled subconsciously. Some people took months and others years. When driving now, whether right or wrong, you drive from work to home while listening to the radio, thinking what to cook for dinner, the gift to buy for the party, etc. You’re basically on auto pilot because you learned your driving limits. You don’t have to think about it because your brain can do it in the background for you.
This same thing happens to our bodies when allowed to grow up without supervision. Our subconscious learns the limits. The body strengthens and matures but it knows its limits after repeatedly doing the same actions. This doesn’t happen in a week or a month; this happens over years. Years ago children spent an enormous amount of time outside running, jumping and falling. Children didn’t have to think of their limits, their body told them what they could and could not do.
Now let’s move onto today’s present time. Kids spend most of their time indoors. They play video games and watch TV. I know some people are reading this and disagreeing because their child is out playing all the time. But this is rare .The norm today is bringing the child athlete to clinics and organized sports a few days a week. In some cases, a child is playing every sport year round. Many studies have shown that a child’s body has fewer injuries when it has the ability to learn its limits before he or she ever goes to a clinic or organized sports.
In summary, just because the coach, parent or instructor tells the child to run a mile doesn’t mean he can run a mile. Everybody has different limits, but these limits need to be found. The way they are found is by doing many different motions over many years. Without supervision, the body and brain can learn. When supervised, a child may push beyond his limits to satisfy an outside source. In this case emotions will override ability and injuries can occur.
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