Play It All
How To Keep Your Child On The Field And Out Of The PT Clinic
Taylor was recently referred to physical therapy with a painful shoulder and a right hand that frequently went numb. For the last five years, she had been a year round participant in softball. At the age of fifteen, she was missing out on softball and a good night sleep secondary to the pain and limited function in her right arm.
Andy played soccer, and at the age of thirteen, he developed knee pain that prevented him from changing directions and sprinting. Andy practiced or played soccer four days a week for 50 of the 52 weeks in a year. It took four years of year round soccer to create the knee damage that required surgery and an twelve week rehab.
Many of the young athletes we treat in physical therapy are the victims of over exposure to the same training stimulus for far too long a period of time. Gymnastics, dancing, baseball, soccer, and softball are worthwhile endeavors, but a developing body needs a break in order to stay healthy. This becomes even more important as the athlete becomes stronger or more skilled.
Take a moment and read the *article by Jane Brody in the May 7th, 2018 edition of the New York Times. Jane interviews several Orthopedic Surgeons that are treating younger patients with injuries that usually occur ten or fifteen years later in an athlete’s career. The research they present is clear; year round single sports participation is not the best way to excel in athletics or remain healthy.
The recent popularity of the club system has children playing the same sport year round. In the clinic, we are treating more young athletes with old person overuse injuries. Participation in a variety of athletic activities is infinitely more beneficial and safer than single sports specialization. It is no coincidence that most successful collegiate and professional athletes are the product of multi-sport participation.
*New York Times, Jane Brody, May 7, 2018, How to Avoid Burnout in Youth Sports. View article: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/07/well/how-to-avoid-burnout-in-youth-sports.html
Michael S. O’Hara, PT, OCS, CSCS
The 2017 Australia Open Tennis tournament had an impressive finish. At the age of 36, Roger Federer became the men’s champion, and 35 year old Serena Williams defeated her 36 year old sister, Venus Williams to become the women’s champion. In the world of professional tennis, a mid-thirties champion is a rarity and to have it happen in both the men’s and women’s divisions is a sign of things to come. Rehabilitation and conditioning science have improved the results athletes can achieve in the gym. Athletes are staying healthier by eating better and training smarter. Take a look at some other recent examples:
Tom Brady, 39 years old. The quarterback for the New England Patriots will be leading his team in Superbowl LI. He is confident he can continue to compete for another five years.
Drew Brees, 38 years old. The starting quarterback for the New Orleans Saints feels he can play for several more years.
Kristin Armstrong, 43 years old. Won a gold medal in cycling at the Rio Olympics at the age of 42. This type of success is amazing in a competition that greatly favors youth.
Dara Torres, 49 years old. This twelve-time Olympic swimmer medallist competed at 41 years of age and won a silver medal in three events at the 2008 Summer Olympics.
Oksana Chusotivina, 41 years old. Oksana is gymnast from Uzbekistan that competed against teenage gymnasts at the Rio Olympics.
Meb Keflezighi, 40 years old. Competed in the Marathon at the Summer Olympics in Rio.
These performances illustrate how proper training and nutrition can produce a high level of performance in athletes thought to be too old to compete. We are all going to get older. It does not mean we are going to get weaker, slower, and more sedentary.
Michael S. O’Hara, PT, OCS, CSCS