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Simply Fit, by Cindy Haskin-Popp, will help you make physical activity a part of everyday life. The health benefits of regular exercise and overall daily physical activity will be discussed. Fun, practical and easy-to-follow tips on an exercise program will be shared, as will the most current research. Fitness tips for families and seniors, on fitness centers and on buying proper and affordable equipment will be regularly given. 

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Kids, Sports and Overtraining: The Other End of the Spectrum

While many American children are not getting enough exercise, there is an emerging subset at risk for getting too much--the young athlete. In recent years, there has been an increase in the number of children participating on organized sports teams year-round. Many of these athletes are members of travel teams and specialized sports associations and are subject to intense training as a result. Furthermore, some of these children and adolescents are playing on multiple teams, often during the same season, which can also lead to excessive training. This degree of training puts the young athlete at risk for overuse injuries, overtraining syndrome and eventually burnout--all of which have the potential to undermine attempts to instill a lifelong habit of exercise that is necessary for well-being later in adulthood.

Overuse Injuries
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.
The American Academy of Pediatrics states that the goal of fitness and sports programs for children and adolescents should be to instill a lifelong interest in physical activity. Skill development in all areas of fitness should be paramount, as should the development of social skills and the understanding of the importance of team work and healthy competition. If the child athlete shows any signs of overtraining or burnout, adjustments should be made to the training program.

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

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