Injury Prevention

Preventable Sports Injuries

by Aub Harden, October 8, 2010

Recently, NGS hosted a seminar on preventing sports injuries in children. We heard a presentation by Dr. Elizabeth Matzkin, an orthopedics specialist at Tufts Medical Center who also works with the US Women’s Soccer Teams. She is active in the organization, Stop Sports Injuries, which is focused on “the growing epidemic of preventable youth sports injuries that are dismantling kids’ athletic hopes and dreams at an early age.”

The focus of her presentation was on injuries due to overuse. Some of the statistics she shared with us were pretty scary.

  • Over 7 million children sustain sports injuries every year.
  • Overuse injuries account for half of all sports injuries in middle school and high school.
  • The rate and severity of sports-related injury increases with a child’s age.
  • Pre-teen and teenage girls have a higher incidence of overuse-related injuries than boys. The reasons are not yet understood, but some evidence suggests hormonal differences.
  • Virtually all overuse injuries are preventable.

Consequences of childhood injuries can persist throughout adult life.

  • Increase the risk factor for future injury during both their youth and adulthood.
  • Contribute to long-term degenerative diseases, such as osteoarthritis.

What is overuse?

Overuse is considered excessive and repeated use that results in injury to the bones, muscles or tendons involved in the action. Generally, the kids who are most prone to overuse injuries are those who are focused on a single sport to the exclusion of others, and/or who play a single sport intensively year-around.


  • Play multiple sports so that the same muscle groups are not being used continuously.
  • Take a season off (from a particular sport) to provide a chance to rest and recover. (BAYS soccer is a commitment to 2 of 4 seasons.)
  • Warm up properly before an activity. Dynamic stretching has been shown to be far more effective than the static stretching most adults grew up doing.
  • Cool down properly after an activity. Stretching can be helpful.
  • Use proper training and technique.
  • Wear proper fitting equipment. Be sure that cleats fit well and are not worn down.
  • Hydrate during exercise.
  • Increase training gradually. Do not increase activity, weight, mileage, or pace by more than 10% per week.
  • If injured, do not “play through the pain”.
  • Any sharp, stabbing pain is a signal to stop the activity immediately.