Many of us have memories of playing sports as a youngster, and are now signing our own children up for pee-wee sports. Although organized sports are a great way for children to acquire leadership skills, learn about teamwork and stay fit and healthy, parents should be aware of some the dangers associated with children playing sports prior to signing on the dotted line. We recently discussed the subject of child athletes and the possible dangers associated with pee-wee sports with Ashley Black, who is the founder of FasciAnatomy, a trainer/therapist for professional athletes, and a mother of three.

child with gold medal

What are the most common injuries sustained in children’s sports?

“The most common injuries sustained in children’s sports are soft tissue injuries, growth plate, and repetitive motion injuries. Soft tissue injuries are thing like sprains, strains, tears, and ligament damage. Growth plate injuries occur at the ends of long bones where children are still growing and the bones are weaker and more susceptible to fracture. Repetitive injuries are caused by doing the same motion over and over in sports such as baseball or golf”

Are there any lasting impacts of injuries sustained in children’s sports?

“The lasting impact for children’s injuries is how they begin to alter their overall structure and alignment to compensate for the injury. There is a saying in the therapy world that ‘you are only as good as your last rehab’. I would also add that it’s not enough to just do physical therapy, because that only addresses the actual site of the injury. Children and their parents need to be informed on alignment, muscle balance, and center of gravity. These problems become the future risk factors as the child ages.”

How can these common injuries be avoided?

“These types of childhood injuries can be avoided by basic tissue care. We sometimes don’t think about children needing massages or stretching, yet the parents are running to hot yoga and the local tissue expert. Children need to foam roll, stretch, do core training, and balance their bodies out the same way adults do. A child can do this for prevention even better than an adult because they are starting from square one.” Click here for our top yoga moves for your child to try.

Are there other dangers in addition to the physical injuries?

“Besides physical injuries, children can also have emotional issues around their injuries. Some, depending on the severity of the injury, have PTSD related to the care after injuries. In the del tissue realm, we sometimes see emotional responses like sobbing when we open scar tissue that has been there for years, and this is a well documented phenomena. By and large though, I think physical activity and sports are a good thing mentally. I think parents just need to be aware of all of the risks and benefits and clearly explain them to the children and let the children decide.”

What should be considered when choosing a sport?

“When choosing a sport, my best advice is to choose a year long plan, rather than just looking at a sport for a particular season. The best physical health plans are the ones that are thoughtful and take many factors into consideration. First on the agenda, children need an off season. There is a reason pro players take a couple of months off every year, and it’s because the body needs it. I also think parents need to look at their motivation beforehand to decide what they want their child to get out of it. For instance, if you want your child to have discipline and flexibility, then you should put them on MMA or some activity that promotes the purpose. If you want your child to play an organized team sports, then there are many to choose from and they each have their own risk factors. On a larger perspective, parents need to make sure that children have a well balanced yearly program, mixing in activities that work different muscle groups, plenty of rest time, and a good solid home maintenance routine for their bodies.”

Which sports are the most injury-prone and which are the least?

“The most common injury-prone sports are football, lacrosse, baseball, softball, cheerleading, and gymnastics. This is largely due to the amount of impact involved in these sports. However, I would like to point out that the benefits of an athletic lifestyle far outweigh that of a sedentary one. The least injury-prone sports are martial arts and swimming. All sports are activities and involve some type of risk.”

On the contrary, what are the positive results of children playing pee-wee sports?

“The best part of pee-wee sports is by far the discipline, camaraderie, and the experience. Sports are some of the fondest memories of adults. I am the mother of three, and they are all teenagers now. All three play some type of sport. They provide family bonding, a sense of achievement, and a lifetime of stories to tell over the water cooler at the office.”

Any other general tips?

“The Ashley Black 101 of injury prevention is: hydrate, stretch, work on posture, core train, alignment, and take care of your tissue.”

Pee-Wee sports can undoubtedly have a positive impact on a child. They help teach discipline, promote teamwork, and create foundation for a healthy lifestyle. However, it is always important to make well informed decisions when it comes to your child’s safety. To learn more about Ashley Black and her extensive experience, visit her site by clicking here.