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Are We Too Preoccupied With Rare Large Injuries?

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Are We Too Preoccupied With Rare Large Injuries?

Over the past 10 years we have seen a  climb in the rate of sports’  injuries, especially ones that require surgery. 

In the U.S., approximately 30 million children participate in organized sports each year.  Just because playing sports is fun doesn’t mean there isn’t potential for injury.  According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), more than 2.6 million children 0 – 19-years-old are treated in the emergency department each year for sports-related injuries. There are between 250,000 and 300,000 ACL injuries per year, and they're almost exclusively happening to athletes. (http://lbpost.com/life/health/2000004217-concussions-and-acl-injuries-a-duo-that-is-on-the-rise-in-youth-sports )

Image result for acl injury Image result for acl injury

While these numbers seem high, they actually represent 1%  of the youth athlete population that may tear their ACL.  The question arises:   Are the numbers to the point that our training programs need to strictly address the prevention of these specific injuries? 

Data from a brief case study  over the past 2 months at the Sports Performance Center illustrates a different scenario.  Out of 30 athletes, five  had some type of soft tissue injury.  These injuries either prevented them outright from doing their training program, or decreased their ability to perform at 100%.  Roughly 15% of our athletes are walking in the door with some sort of painful dysfunction.

Instead of focusing on the 1%, why not  focus on the much higher number of athletes that will develop a chronic injury that prevents them from training hard and can become a precursor to a larger injury?  Frequently, coaches and parents inquire about specific injury prevention strategies  when it might be smarter to look at the bigger picture.                                                                           

When we look at injuries, Mike Boyle said it best, “you either have a traumatic event (concussion) or overuse issues”.  These overuse issues are easily preventable or managed.  One of my athletes has intermittent left medial knee pain.  When she moves too much, the inside of her knee hurts.  Initially we screened for potential causes of pain. Nothing hurt, but she did have limitations in left ankle mobility and motor control of her right hip.  We removed a lot of the jumping and cutting that originally caused her knee pain to flare, and added in exercises that addressed her ankle and hip limitations.  As a result, in just one month, she is experiencing no pain with training, and her pain after 2hr goalie sessions has decreased to “barely noticeable”.     

 

The statistics cited by Mark Hyman in his book Until It Hurts: America’s Obsession with Youth Sports and How It Harms Our Kids, are sobering indeed: “Every year more than 3.5 million children under 15 require medical treatment for sports injuries, nearly half of which are the result of simple overuse.”   (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/25/health/25brod.html)                                                                                                                              

Here is the best part.  SMART TRAINING = TRAUMATIC INJURY PREVENTION.  The take home message here is that soft tissue/overuse injuries far exceed the number of traumatic injuries that most people are scared of.  In addition, they are huge contributors to traumatic events.  External force, a fatigued state where muscles can’t keep up with demand and poor mechanics that put a joint in a compromised position are the three main factors in acute injury.  Smart training that addresses mechanics, strength and recovery, and workload management of practices, training and games, have far greater impact on overall injury prevention than simply a few targeted exercises.

Other great resources

http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/healthlibrary/conditions/pediatrics/sports_injury_statistics_90,P02787/

http://www.apta.org/APTAMedia/Handouts/PT2013/youngathletes_McNeff_1.pdf

 

 

 

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Guest Tuesday, 12 December 2017