Kids, Sports and Overtraining: The Other End of the Spectrum
Approximately 50 percent of sports-related injuries treated at pediatric sports medicine facilities are the result of overuse. The bones of children and adolescents are not yet fully developed, making them more susceptible to microtrauma caused by the repetitive stress of sports training that lacks sufficient periods of rest and recovery. Overuse injuries in the young athlete can interfere with the proper growth and development of the musculoskeletal system, causing problems later in life.
Overtraining Syndrome and Burnout Symptoms
- Impaired sports performance despite regular training
- Chronic muscle or joint discomfort
- Lack of motivation to practice or compete
- Overuse injuries, such as stress fractures and tendinitis
- Chronic fatigue
- Increased resting heart rate
- Changes in mood or personality, such as increased irritability
Tips to Avoid Overtraining Children and Adolescents
- Incorporate at least 1 to 2 days off per week from training and competition.
- Balance high-intensity workouts with low-intensity workouts that are designed to facilitate recovery.
- Encourage participation on only one sports team per season.
- Cross-train/vary sporting activities.
- Emphasize the development of fundamental fitness skills, such as agility, balance, strength, endurance, power and coordination rather than on acquiring sport-specific skills.
- Provide a hiatus of 2 to 3 months per year from sport-specific training to allow time for mental and physical recovery.
Pediatrics: Official Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics; "Overuse Injuries, Overtraining and Burnout in Child and Adolescent Athletes"; Joel S. Brenner and the Council on Sports Medicine and Fitness; 2007
ACSM's Health & Fitness Journal; "Overtraining in Young Athletes: How Much is Too Much?"; Avery D. Faigenbaum; 2009