ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – Overuse injuries are common in workers and athletes, but orthopedic surgeon Dr. Andrew Blackman with St. Luke’s Hospital says they’re now seeing overuse injuries in kids as young as 7 and 8 years old.
“We’re situations where kids are playing year round, and they’re not getting any rest from sports at all,” he says.
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Often at that age, it’s ‘little leaguer’s elbow’ or ‘little leaguer’s shoulder’ from kids throwing too much and too often. Blackman says young athletes are starting to specialize too soon.
“They should generalize in their sports exposure early and then as they find things that they’re good at or that they really enjoy doing, once they’ve gone through puberty and late adolescence, when they’re 15, 16 years old and they’re done growing and done with a lot of their skeletal development, then it’s better to specialize at that point in time,” he says.
Blackman says aside from the risk of injury by overworking young athletes, parents and coaches risk burnout by a child pushed too hard.