In the ever changing world of athletics, we are finding more of our youths mirroring the rate of injury and performance progression that we see on the professional level. This brings to question are we over training? What can we do to support these young athletes but at the same time not limit their potential by leading them to injury?
Last week the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) published this article http://on.wsj.com/1bLVrvC to highlight the lives of a few youth athletes and the increased use of physical therapy in their lives. It is in my professional opinion that youths should play in a variety of sports with interchanging training focuses. For example, football players can baseball in the off-season. Softball players can play soccer in the off-season. The idea is to train in sports with different primary body parts in each offseason. Leg driven or arm driven. A bad example would be volleyball and basketball, two upper body heavy sports.
The physical therapist in the WSJ article are playing an integral part of trying to re-establish these athletes core functional movement. Along with a skilled athletic trainer for practices, physical therapist and athletic trainers are important to maintain and progress athletes to true safety for return to play. Perhaps the hardest part for therapist is to keep the patient interested in rehab. Exercises must be creative and engaging. As therapists in NYC we face another obstacle for creativity, space! However; space is adaptable and a good therapist will constantly re-invent exercises to imporve movements for functional return.
Ask your therapist the important questions about rehab. What do they think about your child or yourself if you’re a young athlete? Are you over training? What is a good off-season sport for you? If not a sport in the offseason what kind of self-training can you do to stay strong but not overused? And if you have read the full article, the tough question to ask is are you really safe to play your sport?