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GROWING PAINS:

HOW CAN COACHES HELP PREVENT INJURIES IN ADOLESCENT ATHLETES?

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here is seemingly no end to the positive effects that participation in sport has on people, both physically and mentally. This is particularly true for young teens that, during times of hormonal changes, may rely on sport in order to cope with rapid changes occurring in their bodies. Adolescent growth spurts can be a frustrating time for a young athlete, where a once agile youth can suddenly seem uncoordinated and a bit awkward. It can be difficult for athletes to adapt to these changes, and many experience a decline in core strength, balance, and often find themselves getting injured more regularly. The good news is this decline in performance is often short-lived and a normal phase of growing up. The most intense growth occurs during puberty, usually between the ages of 10-15 for girls and 12-17 for boys. During growth, bones add material only in specific regions called growth plates, located near the ends of bones and areas where the ligaments and tendons connect to the bone. Growth plates are weaker and injuries to this area can have serious effects on normal bone growth. Growth plate injuries occur during a fall or a blow, or can be caused by overuse. The injuries a teen can experience in sport are just a varied as the sports themselves, with contact and overuse injuries being the most common and well-known. Injuries that primarily occur in young athletes include Osgood-

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Schlatter’s, which is a common knee pain injury experienced by active adolescents. It affects the point where the kneecap and the shinbone connect, causing pain and swelling. Studies have shown that Anterior Cruciate Ligament injuries (ACL) happen 4-6 times more often to young female athletes. Recognition of the many changes happening within a teen athlete, and finding ways to work with and around them, is one of the many aspects of a coach’s job. Many experts agree that running and jumping technique definitely play an important role in injury

RECOMMENDED READINGS How young is too young to start training? Biological maturation of youth athletes: assessment and implications Peak Height Velocity Why Do Girls Sustain More Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injuries Than Boys? The effect of maturation on adaptations to strength training and detraining in 11-15-year-olds

Athlete Pathway Spring 2016  
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