Reducing the Risk of Sports-Related Injuries in Youth with Resistance Training
Updated: Jun 10, 2019
Youth (children and adolescents) participation in sports programs has significantly increased over the years and the statistics for injuries has also increased.
De Loes (1) reported the overall mean medical treatment in youth for 12 sports cost $1131 USD per injury in females and $1097 USD in males. Parents are enrolling their kids in sports at a younger age to gain the competitive edge over other kids. With prize money and the level of competition at the elite level increasing, youth are pressured by either coaches or parents to compete year round and specializing at an earlier age. However, early sport specialization has been highlighted to potential early sport burnout and high-risk of overuse injuries (2). It is worth noting that the numbers of injuries per hour of exposure in sports has been reported higher injury incidence compared to resistance training (1). Although the number of injuries reported for resistance training in youth is significantly low, resistance training is still considered unsafe and inherently stunts growth development. This misconception makes youth miss the sensitive period, which is a critical time for developing motor skills.
How can we prevent sports-related injuries in youth?
It is unrealistic to prevent injuries in sports due to too many extrinsic risks factors such as the weather, training environment, training volume, inadequate recovery and equipment. In addition low fitness level, lack of coordination, and muscle imbalances may also place youth at higher risks (3). However we may reduce the likelihood of sports-related injuries by preparing youth for the physical demands of their sport with an age-appropriate resistance-training program.
Early stage of youth resistance training program should focus on developing a foundation with the goals of learning basic exercises (e.g., squat, lunge, push up, pull up, rotation, planks, jumping and landing). It is well documented that resistance training strengthens supporting structures such as connective tissues, cartilage, ligaments, tendons, and joints, thus enhancing the musculoskeletal system to tolerate the repetitive stress from the sport. Hejna and Rosenberg (4) investigated resistance training as a form of injury prevention in high school athletes. The researchers reported athletes who participated in a resistance-training program had lower sports-related injuries (26.2%) compared to athletes who did not participate in a resistance-training program (72.4%). Furthermore, athletes who participated in a resistance-training program missed fewer days of practice. Despite concerns with youth participating in a resistance training program, the benefits will outweigh risk of injuries in the gym with an age-appropriate guidelines under qualified supervision. In an effort to minimize sports-related injuries, addressing a well-rounded resistance-training program that includes strength, power, muscular endurance, dynamic postural control, plyometric, and agility exercises prepares youth for the physical demands of their sport.
1. de Loes, M, Dahlstedt LJ, Thomee R. A 7-year study on risks and costs of knee injuries in male and female youth participants in 12 sports. Scand J Med Sci Sports: 10: 90-97, 2000.
2. Difiori JP, Benjamin HJ, Brenner J, Gregory A, Jayanthi N, Landry GL, Luke A. Overuse injuries and burnout in youth sports: A position statement from the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine. Clin J Sport Med: 24: 3-20, 2014.
3. Faigenbaum AD. Resistance training for children and adolescents: Are there health outcomes? Am J of Lifestyle Med: 190-200, 2007.
4. Hejna, WF, Rosenberg, A. The prevention of sports injuries in high school students through strength training. Strength Cond J: 4 (1): 28-31, 1982.