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How many of you played a sport when you were growing up? I know I did, along with most of my friends. As of 2015, 36 million kids between the age of 5 and 18 play an organized sport, with the most popular sport being football.1 As children grow, they learn proper mechanics when running, jumping, or throwing a ball. It’s important to note growth spurts can lead to an awkward childhood, as well as awkward sport-specific biomechanics. For instance, my freshman year in high school, I weighed around 110lbs, and my junior year, I jumped to 140lbs. Lanky, awkward, and prone to injury, I competed in wrestling, soccer, baseball, and track. Over the years, I’ve had and seen countless injuries in organized sports. Around 87% of parents are worried about the risk of injuries in organized youth athletics. (1) Unfortunately, this worry is not an unfounded one. The CDC states an estimated 3.2 million visits to emergency rooms each year for children aged 5-14 years. (2) One study found since 2000, there has been a five-fold increase in the number of serious shoulder and elbow injuries among youth baseball and softball players. (3) Additionally, even the older populations are seeing an uptick in participation and an increase in injuries. (4)

This begs the question: should you stop playing sports? Absolutely not! Exercise is healthy (see one of my previous posts on exercise for some interesting statistics). Regular physical activity controls weight, prevents chronic disease, promotes healthy brain function, helps develop relationships, and was even found as the most cost-effective way to stay healthy. (5) With anything in life, there needs to be a delicate balance between exercise, education, family, etc. As of right now, I believe most people are out of balance! For the first time since 1993, a drop in overall life expectancy was recorded in 2015. (6) According to the CDC, 36.5% of people are obese, and 70.7% of adults are overweight. (7) The facts don’t lie. We need to change our lifestyle or create social-economic changes to better help underprivileged areas. This will allow for changes to their lifestyles on a larger scale (This is a whole other conversation). As a society, it is imperative to start changing our lifestyles for the better. We need to address one issue at a time to regain control in a busy, stressful world.

Whether you are a parent or child, we all want to properly enjoy injury-free sports. Unfortunately, certain factors such as overtraining can lead to an increase in injuries. (8) For instance, everyone has seen an overbearing parent who burns their kid out at an early age. Don’t be that person. One study found that lack of sleep is associated with increased injuries in adolescents. (9) Our kids need more sleep! A meta-analysis completed in 2015 found that the prevalence of vitamin D inadequacy in athletes is prominent. (10) In addition to sleep, they also need better eating habits! Proper nutrition, sufficient sleep, adequate water, and properly warming up are the basics. Thus, they should be followed at ANY age. Even more so, it is of utmost importance to have proper bio-mechanics before, during, and after playing such sports. Conditions like pelvic un-leveling, I firmly believe, have caused many of my injuries as an adolescent. Fortunately, I learned from my mistakes. I maintain a schedule where I get checked frequently by my chiropractor that focuses on structural corrective care. Injuries can affect you as a child and often develop into chronic conditions when you are older. Have fun competing, but take the measures to ensure your health!

Works Cited

1. Harden, Seth. “Youth Sports Statistics.” Statistic Brain, 2015, www.statisticbrain.com/youth-sports-statistics/.

2. “Sports and Recreation-Related Injuries.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2011,

3. Preserving the Future of Sport: From Prevention to Treatment of Youth Overuse Sports Injuries. AOSSM 2009 Annual Meeting Pre-Conference Program. Keystone, Colorado.

4. Kammerlander, C et al. “The Epidemiology of Sports-Related Injuries in Older Adults: a Central European Epidemiologic Study.” SpringerLink, link.springer.com/article/10.3275/8273.

5. “Facts: Sports Activity and Children.” Facts: Sports Activity and Children | Project Play, www.aspenprojectplay.org/the-facts.

6. “Mortality in the United States, 2015.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Aug. 2016, www.cdc.gov/nchs/products/databriefs/db267.htm.

7. “Adult Obesity Facts.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Jan. 2016, www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/adult.html.

8. Brenner, J. S. “Overuse Injuries, Overtraining, and Burnout in Child and Adolescent Athletes.” Pediatrics, vol. 119, no. 6, Jan. 2007, pp. 1242–1245. doi:10.1542/peds.2007-0887.

9. Milewski, Matthew D. et al. “Chronic Lack of Sleep Is Associated With Increased Sports Injuries in Adolescent Athletes.” Journal of Pediatric Orthopaedics, vol. 34, no. 2, 2014, pp. 129–133. doi:10.1097/bpo.0000000000000151.

10. Farrokhyar, Forough et al. “Prevalence of Vitamin D Inadequacy in Athletes: A Systematic-Review and Meta-Analysis.” Sports Medicine, vol. 45, no. 3, Mar. 2014, pp. 365–378. doi:10.1007/s40279-014-0267-6.

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