Parents: You want your kid to develop a life-long love of sports – but if you’re not careful, they may also develop life-long injuries.
According to new research from Loyola University – kids who train too hard, before they’re fully physically developed, are at a higher risk of developing permanent injuries.
For example: 70 percent of kid athletes are likely to get serious “overuse injuries” of the back, shoulder or elbow. Things like stress fractures, torn ligaments, and damage to cartilage and bone.
Like the growing number of Little Leaguers who are being treated for “pitching elbow” - which happens when pitchers try to throw faster fastballs, and distort the arm muscles and joints. Experts say overuse injuries are most common in kids who specialize in one sport – whether it’s Little League, Pee-Wee football, or tennis. And the problem with overuse injuries is that once they happen to kids, there’s a 1-in-4 chance the injury will never heal, and will linger for the rest of their adult life.
So, how much practice is “too much” for kids? Experts say a good rule of thumb is to never train more hours per week than your age. Meaning, a 7-year-old should limit their practice to 7 hours a week. A 12-year-old should practice no more than 12 hours a week, and so on.
Also, instead of pushing kids to specialize in one sport, experts say kids should be active in multiple sports – like football in the fall, and baseball in spring because that works different muscle groups, and develops different skills. In fact, some of the most successful athletes in history played multiple sports including Michael Jordan – who played basketball and baseball.