As part of a package on youth sports injuries, the Cleveland Plain Dealer published a Q&A with noted sports surgeon Dr. James Andrews.
Andrews, in promoting his new book “Any Given Monday,” told the Plain Dealer he wants young athletes to stay healthy by playing less.
“I started seeing a sharp increase in youth sports injuries, particularly baseball, beginning around 2000,” Andrews told The Plain Dealer in a telephone interview. “I started tracking and researching, and what we’ve seen is a five- to sevenfold increase in injury rates in youth sports across the board. I’m trying to help these kids, given the epidemic of injuries that we’re seeing. That’s sort of my mission: to keep them on the playing field and out of the operating room.
“I hate to see the kids that we used to not see get hurt. … Now they’re coming in with adult, mature-type sports injuries. It’s a real mess. Maybe this book will help make a dent.”
He attributes the spike in youth sports injuries to the “professionalism” of such pursuits for kids by parents.
Professionalism is taking these kids at a young age and trying to work them as if they are pro athletes, in terms of training and year-round activity. Some can do it, like Tiger Woods. He was treated like a professional golfer when he was 4, 5, 6 years old. But you’ve got to realize that Tiger Woods is a special case. A lot of these kids don’t have the ability to withstand that type of training and that type of parental/coach pressure.
Now parents are hiring ex-pro baseball players as hitting and pitching instructors when their kid is 12. They’re thinking, ‘What’s more is better,’ and they’re ending up getting the kids hurt.
Andrews also gave the Plain Dealer his seven myths about sports injuries, including:
4: No pain, no gain.
Don’t believe the old adage. That’s simply not true. Pain exists for a reason: to warn our bodies when something is wrong. Too often, coaches and/or parents put it into their young players’ heads that they need to “play through the pain,” so kids accept that hurting is just part of the game. This idea is also promoted by “motivational” quotations on T-shirts and signs posted around weight rooms that say things such as “Pain is weakness leaving the body.”
To put it bluntly, no child or teen should ever play with pain. Period. If the body is alerting the brain that something is wrong, the brain should listen.
And the Plain Dealer polled its readers to ask if parents are pushing their kids into sports too much, causing injuries.
– Bill Bradley, contributing editor