Playing sports is great for teenagers. Along with the obvious benefits of health and fitness, playing sport can provide a sense of achievement, belonging and wellbeing, thanks to all those feel-good endorphins. Sport also fosters self-discipline, emotional regulation, social skills, teamwork, perseverance and acceptance of defeat (though hopefully not too often!).
Sport may be one of the few things that gets your teenager off their screen and into the real world. So, the last thing you want is to find them laid up on the couch nursing an injury that gives them a free pass to evade all chores and casts you in the role of nursemaid and provider of endless snacks!
Common sports injuries among teenagers
Your teen’s sports injuries may affect their bones, muscles or tendons. Injuries fall into two main types:
- Acute/traumatic injuries that will see your teen carried off the pitch on a stretcher
- Overuse injuries, which occur gradually over time when one part of the body is repeatedly stressed and doesn’t have time to recover before more demands are placed on it.
Acute injuries in teen sports
Depending on the sport, your teen might experience an acute injury from a collision, a fall or a sudden twist that results in excessive strain. You’re looking at injuries like:
- Fractured bones
- Sprained ankles
- Anterior cruciate ligament sprains or tears
- Strained muscles
These bring an abrupt change to your teenager’s life. Depending on the severity of the injury, your teen may be looking at surgery to reset bones or repair ligaments or extensive rehab to strengthen damaged tissues.
Overuse injuries in teenagers
Overuse injuries are less dramatic, but still serious. They’re the end result of a series of micro injuries due to overuse or poor technique. Your teenager’s bones or soft tissues may have been making gentle grumbles for a while and now they’re complaining loudly.
Parenting can be a bit similar. At the start of the week, you might not mind gently rousing your slumbering teen with a cup of tea and a reminder that the school bus will be leaving soon. By Thursday morning, you’re getting grumpy about it. You wake them up by splashing cold water on their face and berating them for their laziness.
Teen overuse injuries include:
- Elbow injuries from tennis or cricket
- Shoulder injuries from swimming
- Shin splints
- Stress fractures
- Tendinopathy or tendinitis.
Importance of strength and conditioning to prevent injuries
Teenagers are a complicated mix of maturity and immaturity, as you doubtless, already know only too well.
We mention this because it is important to remember that teenage bodies are still growing. That growth is generally uneven too. Usually their bones grow first, pulling on tight muscles and tendons. This makes teen athletes particularly vulnerable to injury.
A regular strength and conditioning program helps to minimise the risks of injury using:
- Sport-specific training to improve strength, speed, agility and aerobic fitness
- Endurance training
- Guidance to improve technique and reduce the risk of injury.
How Sycamore Health can help sporty teens
At Sycamore Health, we love using our physiotherapy skills to help young people prevent or recover from injury so they can enjoy playing their chosen sport.
Each teenager has different areas of vulnerability to injury, depending on their unique biomechanics, medical history and chosen sport. Sycamore Health’s sports physiotherapy team works with your teenager to develop a tailored plan for sport-specific strength and conditioning training or for injury recovery.
Book an appointment today.
All information is general in nature. Patients should consider their own personal circumstances and seek a second opinion.