There is an epidemic happening in youth sports. Injuries are occurring from overtraining or in my opinion under-training in flexibility and mobility.
High School athletes account for over 2 million injuries per year! (Journal of Athletic Training) Over 500,000 sprain/strain injuries occur each year in our teenage athlete population. That’s too many!
Here are my questions:
- Why are so many sprains and strains happening in non contact sports?
- Can they be prevented?
- Are athletes spending time on flexibility?
- How many injuries have caused lost time at play?
- How many injuries have caused a lost season?
- How many injuries have ended a career? A college Scholarship?
If you have wondered the answers to any of these questions you are not alone. Every time I see a new athlete in my clinic I ask the same questions, what do you do for flexibility training? How often do you stretch? The answers are usually astonishing, “not much” or “only a little bit”. When I ask why not they usually tell me the coaches don’t do it because there is not enough time.
What that tells me is that either they don’t know the value of it or they simply don’t know how to do it. I have offered several times and at various locations to come into the high schools and demonstrate FREE flexibility training, even sport specific programs. Every time I get the same answer, “We already have an athletic trainer here doing that and we don’t want to step on their toes bringing in someone else”. REALLY??!!
Here’s my dilemma that I NEED your HELP with:
Help me to educate TEAM SPORTS about the importance of flexibility training. DEMAND that every sport and every team have DESIGNATED time for flexibility training.
I want to pioneer a STANDARD of Training that everyone can utilize. I don’t need acknowledgment or financial gain from this, I simply want to see less children getting injured. Our motto is simple:
Move Better. Perform Better
Here is HOW YOU CAN HELP:
- Talk to the Athletic Director at your school and ask what their policy is on flexibility training. If they don’t have one, email me that person’s contact information so I can offer help. If they do have one, ask for a copy then send it to me for review of effectiveness
- Begin your own flexibility training program and see if you feel better and perform better. I have some videos posted that can give you a good start. A professional video of my Standard of Flexibility is underway currently.
- Make some NOISE! Start talking about this among friends, family, coaches, anyone. See for yourself how much we can improve this area of youth athletics. Comment on this Blog, share it with as many as you can and let me know how loud our voice can be.
The CRITICAL age for injury is 15 years old! I see more injuries at this age than any other. This is a pivotal age in development when growth plates begin to close and that super bendable little girl/boy who we marveled at as they never seemed to tire out suddenly feels tension, restricted motion, pain! We all know that as we get older our bodies begin to stiffen.
IF YOU DON’T USE IT, YOU LOSE IT
Truer words were never spoken. Our young athletes that we enjoy watching on the field or on the court, supporting and encouraging all the way to do their best and get better NEED our protection too! They want to please the parents and the coaches and their teammates as well as themselves. There seems to be no shortage of advice on how to get stronger and play better yet no one is saying, “Rest, Relax, Sleep, Meditate, Breathe, Stretch!”
There are many aspects to being the BEST at a sport. Just look at the entourage of people that work for Professional sporting teams. It’s a full time job being a Pro. Our children admire them and we need to too. Admire their dedication and commitment to their sport but also admire all the preparatory work that takes place too.
Our kids start young in athletics and never seem to have an ‘off season’. They play multiple sports and are on multiple teams. Their developing bodies are failing by the middle of high school where performance should PEAK not slow down.
If you agree with what I am saying and you’d like to see me develop a Standard of Flexibility Program for our youth please LET ME HEAR YOU! Comment here or send me a private message.
Let’s make a change!
Dr. Donna Copertino, DC, DACRB
Director of Back in Action: Athletic Performance Training Center