Sports And Fitness
Asthma and Exercise (Care of the Young Athlete)
Almost every child (and adult) with asthma can
benefit from sports and physical activity. Also, asthma should not prevent young
athletes from enjoying a full athletic career. The following is information from
the American Academy of Pediatrics about asthma and exercise.
Ballet and Dance (Care of the Young Athlete)
Dance is an artistic, athletic, expressive, and
social form of physical activity that appeals to a wide variety of individuals.
The physical aspects of dance can be both a valuable source of exercise as well
as a cause of injury. For young people who take dance classes, have formal
training in dance, or perform as dancers, they typically do so in one of the
following dance disciplines: ballet, jazz, modern, tap, hip hop, Irish, or
Baseball and Softball (Care of the Young Athlete)
Baseball and softball are extremely popular
among America's youth. Injuries are common because of the large number of
athletes participating. While most injuries are acute, there are specific
overuse injuries that commonly affect young ball players. Most of these injuries
can be prevented.
Basketball and Volleyball (Care of the Young Athlete)
Acute and overuse injuries are common in jumping
sports like basketball and volleyball. Acute injuries include bruises
(contusions); cuts and scrapes (lacerations); ankle, knee, or finger sprains or
fractures; shoulder dislocations; eye injuries; and concussions. Overuse
injuries include patellar tendonitis (also called jumper's knee) or
Osgood-Schlatter disease, spondylolysis (stress fracture of the spine), rotator
cuff tendinopathy, stress fractures, and shin splints.
Biking (Care of the Young Athlete)
Biking is a fun way for children of all ages to
get active and stay fit. Most children learn to ride a tricycle at around 3
years of age. Between 4 and 7 years of age most children learn to ride a bike.
However, remember that each child is different and will learn to ride a bike at
his or her own pace.
Burners and Stingers (Care of the Young Athlete)
Burners and stingers are intense pains that
occur when the nerves that run from the neck to the arm are stretched or
compressed. This typically occurs in contact or collision sports where the
shoulder may be pushed backward or the head and neck is forcibly pushed to the
side. Burners are most common in football players but are also common in those
who participate in hockey, wrestling, lacrosse, and diving. The term burner will be used in this handout to refer to both
burners and stingers.
Cheerleading (Care of the Young Athlete)
Cheerleading is often thought of as a sport only
for high school and college athletes. However, it is becoming more popular among
younger athletes as well.
Concussions (Care of the Young Athlete)
A concussion is any injury to the brain that
disrupts normal brain function on a temporary or permanent basis. Concussions
are typically caused by a blow or jolt to the head.
Core Exercises (Care of the Young Athlete)
Core exercises strengthen the muscles of the
spine, abdomen, and pelvis. These muscles support all physical activity.
Diving (Care of the Young Athlete)
Competitive springboard and platform divers
start training and competing at an early age. Many Olympic and world champions
are 18 years of age and younger.
Encourage Your Child to Be Physically Active
Today's youth are less active and more overweight than any previous generation.
Exercise-Related Heat Illness (Care of the Young Athlete)
Exercise-related heat illness (ERHI) or
"heat injury" happens when exercise is done in high temperature
and high humidity. It's one type of injury, unlike sports injuries caused
by contact, that can almost always be prevented with proper attention to safety
and common sense.
Figure Skating (Care of the Young Athlete)
Figure skating is a lifelong sport that can be
enjoyed by people of all ages. Competitive skating requires strength,
flexibility, cardiovascular fitness, balance, jumping ability, artistic
expression, mental strength, and financial resources.
Football (Care of the Young Athlete)
Football is a fast-paced, aggressive, contact
team sport that is very popular among America's youth. Football programs
exist for players as young as 6 years all the way through high school, college,
Get Fit, Stay Healthy
Being fit means you're in good shape, you have energy, you're active, and you don't get tired easily during the day. Most people who are fit also feel pretty good about themselves.
Golf (Care of the Young Athlete)
In the past, golf was seen by many as a leisure
activity for people with extra time and money to spend. Today golf is seen as a
sport, and one that appeals to younger participants.
Gymnastics (Care of the Young Athlete)
Gymnastics is a sport of flexibility and agility
that includes 4 forms: artistic, rhythmic, acrobatic, and tumbling and
trampoline. Each form has its unique physical demands and specific injury risks;
however, all forms include jumping and back arching and rotating movements.
Horseback Riding (Care of the Young Athlete)
Horseback riding (equestrian) is a common
activity in the United States; about 30 million people go horseback riding every
year. Unlike other sports, the risk of injury is highest for the most
inexperienced riders. As riders gain experience, they learn how to avoid injury
as they learn to properly handle the horse.
How to Prevent Overuse Injuries (Care of the Young Athlete)
Over the past 20 years more children are
participating in organized and recreational athletics. With so many
young athletes playing sports, it's no wonder injuries are common. Half
of all sports medicine injuries in children and teens are from overuse. The
following is information from the American Academy of Pediatrics about overuse
injuries and injury prevention tips.
Ice Hockey (Care of the Young Athlete)
Ice hockey is one of the fastest sports and
requires good physical conditioning and skating skills. It is a team sport
played from the ages of 5 to 6 years through adulthood.
Is Your Child Ready for Sports? (Care of the Young Athlete)
Sports readiness means that a child has the
physical, mental, and social skills to meet the demands of the sport. While
general guidelines can help you select a sport based on age, it's
important to remember that children develop at different rates. Children are
more likely to enjoy and succeed in sports when they have the physical, mental,
and social skills required by the sport.
Lacrosse (Care of the Young Athlete)
Lacrosse is one of the fastest-growing sports in
the United States. It's both a contact (boys) and noncontact (girls)
sport. Injuries differ between the contact game of boys' lacrosse (body
contact and stick checking allowed) and the noncontact game of girls'
Little League Elbow (Care of the Young Athlete)
Little League elbow is a common overuse injury
associated with throwing. This injury is most common in pitchers but also occurs
in catchers, infielders, and outfielders.
Martial Arts (Care of the Young Athlete)
More than 6 million children in the United
States participate in martial arts. Martial arts are known to improve social
skills, discipline, and respect in children. Children can also improve their
abilities to concentrate and focus on activities, as well as bettering their
motor skills and self-confidence. Martial arts can be fun and beneficial at any
Nutrition and Supplement Use (Care of the Young Athlete)
Young athletes often try special diets and
supplements to improve their athletic performance. However, many of these
products do not live up to their claims to increase strength, speed, and
athletic skills. Athletes should focus instead on following the basics of proper
hydration and nutrition. Both are crucial in supporting growth and athletic
performance. The following is information from the American Academy of
Pediatrics about proper nutrition and supplement use.
Osgood-Schlatter Disease (Care of the Young Athlete)
Osgood-Schlatter is a common condition in young
athletes that refers to irritation of a growth plate at the knee. It typically
occurs in active teens during their growth spurt and resolves after the bone
Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome (Care of the Young Athlete)
Patellofemoral pain syndrome is one of the most
common causes of knee pain in young athletes. The condition is an overuse injury
that results from activities that cause pressure or friction on the cartilage
behind the kneecap. Patellofemoral pain syndrome occurs frequently in athletes
who participate in sports that involve running, jumping, or squatting.
Performance-Enhancing Supplements (Care of the Young Athlete)
The most effective way young athletes can
improve their sports performance is to pay close attention to the basics:
fluids, calories, training, conditioning, and rest. Shortcuts, such as the use
of performance-enhancing substances and supplements, are of little benefit and
are potentially damaging to young athletes.
Physical Activity: Creating a FITT Plan (Care of the Young Athlete)
Physical activity is important for everyone in
the family. The following is information from the American Academy of Pediatrics
summarizing the FITT method and includes general fitness tips and an activity
Physical Activity: Overcoming Obstacles (Care of the Young Athlete)
There are many benefits of regular physical
activity; however, people often have many excuses for not being more physically
active. The following is information from the American Academy of Pediatrics
encouraging families to consider all the benefits of being physically active and
how to overcome some obstacles. Each family member can take a step toward
becoming more physically active by filling out the physical activity plan.
Racquet Sports (Care of the Young Athlete)
Racquet sports (tennis, racquetball, squash,
badminton, and paddle tennis) are sports of speed and agility and involve
athletes of all ages.
Rowing (Care of the Young Athlete)
Rowing is a lifelong, year-round sport that
requires dedication and intense training. Rowing on the water, an ergometer, and
indoor water tanks along with weight training and running are integral parts of
training. In high school and college this sport is also called crew.
Running (Care of the Young Athlete)
Running, as a sport, can involve a number of
different forms, including the following:
Safe Weight Loss and Weight Gain (Care of the Young Athlete)
Many athletes actively seek changes in body
weight in hopes of improving athletic performance. In some sports, such as
wrestling, gymnastics, dancing, and running, athletes and coaches associate
optimal performance with a relatively low body mass. In other sports,
particularly contact and collision sports, such as football, increased body mass
is often encouraged.
Sever's Disease (Care of the Young Athlete)
The calcaneal apophysis is a growth center where
the Achilles tendon and the plantar fascia attach to the heel. It first appears
in children aged 7 to 8 years. By ages 12 to 14 years the growth center matures
and fuses to the heel bone.
Shin Pain (Care of the Young Athlete)
Shin pain occurs most frequently in athletes
involved in running, jumping, or high-impact sports. Shin pain can be caused by
shin splints (also called medial tibial stress syndrome), a
stress fracture of the tibia or fibula, or compartment syndrome. The
most common source of shin pain in runners is shin splints.
Shoulder Impingement (Care of the Young Athlete)
Shoulder impingement is an overuse injury that
causes achy pain on the front or side of the shoulder. The pain is felt most
when the arm is overhead or extended to the side. Shoulder impingement also is
called rotator cuff tendonitis, subacromial impingement, supraspinatus
tendonitis, and shoulder bursitis.
Skateboarding and In-line Skating (Care of the Young Athlete)
Although skateboarding and in-line skating were
once considered extreme sports, they are now both very common activities for
children. Skateboarding and in-line skating involve street skating (using public
areas such as sidewalks, steps, handrails, and curbs) or skate parks designed
specifically for these sports.
Skiing and Snowboarding (Care of the Young Athlete)
As winter sports are gaining in popularity,
young children are hitting the slopes to learn skiing and snowboarding. However,
not every young child may be prepared for the experience. Your child's
age, strength, and ability to cooperate are a few factors to consider. Qualified
instructors can often help parents determine if their child is ready for these
sports. Most resorts begin ski school at 4 years old. Although snowboards are
made for children as young as 4 years, some resorts will not teach snowboarding
to children younger than 7 years.
Skin Conditions and Sports Participation (Care of the Young Athlete)
Most skin conditions do not affect sports
participation. As a general rule, young people with skin conditions should be
allowed to participate in sports as long as there is no risk of blood or body
fluid coming into contact with other athletes. Skin conditions that may affect
participation can be divided into temporary and long-term conditions.
Soccer (Care of the Young Athlete)
Soccer (known as football outside the United
States) is one of the most popular team sports in the world. Soccer also can be
a way to encourage children to be physically active while they learn about
teamwork and sportsmanship.
Sports and Your Child
Whether on a court, in a pool, on a field, or in a gym, more children than ever are competing in sports. Sports help boys and girls keep their bodies fit and feel good about themselves. However, there are some important issues that parents need to be aware of if their children participate in organized sports.
Sports Medicine Professionals (Care of the Young Athlete)
Athletes may deal with many different types of
medical personnel after an injury. Athletes also may be referred by their
primary care doctors to a sports medicine doctor or other sports medicine
specialists for further evaluation and treatment. The following is information
from the American Academy of Pediatrics about the most common sports medicine
Steroids: Play Safe, Play Fair
You play to win. You're always looking for a way to get an edge over your opponents.
Strength Training (Care of the Young Athlete)
Strength training (or resistance training) uses
a resistance to increase an individual's ability to exert force. It
involves the use of weight machines, free weights, bands or tubing, or the
individual's own body weight. This is not the same as Olympic lifting,
power lifting, or body building, which requires the use of ballistic movements
and maximum lifts and is not recommended for children.
Stress Fractures (Care of the Young Athlete)
Stress fracture (also called a fatigue fracture)
is a weakening or thin crack in a bone caused by repetitive stress on the bone.
A stress fracture is an overuse injury. It is different from a fracture that
occurs after a traumatic event, such as a fall. Stress fractures are more common
in endurance athletes or athletes who perform repetitive, high-impact
Swimming (Care of the Young Athlete)
Swimming is a sport in which there is a great diversity among participants. There are both recreational and competitive swimmers, ranging in age from preschool through college.
The Female Athlete Triad (Care of the Young Athlete)
Female athlete triad refers to the
combination of 3 medical conditions—eating problems, menstrual problems, and
weak bones—seen in competitive female athletes. Prevention of the female
athlete triad is important because it can interfere with normal growth and
development, cause injury, and result in loss of strength and endurance.
Treatment of Sports Injuries (Care of the Young Athlete)
There is often more than one way to effectively
treat an injury. Treatment programs are always adjusted to meet the individual
needs of the athlete and the unique requirements of the athlete's sport
Use of Ice and Heat (Care of the Young Athlete)
Ice and heat are often used in treating
Use of Medicines in Sports (Care of the Young Athlete)
The primary use of medicines in sports is to
treat pain and inflammation. Athletes may also take medicines to treat specific
medical conditions, such as asthma or diabetes, or to treat common illnesses,
like colds, congestion, cough, allergies, diarrhea, and skin infections.
Water Polo (Care of the Young Athlete)
Water polo is an intense sport that requires
athletes to tread water and swim for long periods. There is a version for
younger athletes that allows them to stand in shallow water or hang onto the
side of the pool, but this is illegal in competitive water polo.
When is an Athlete Ready to Return to Play? (Care of the Young Athlete)
One of the first questions an athlete will ask
following injury or illness is, "When can I play again?" The
answer is rarely quick or simple. Return-to-play decisions can be controversial
and a source of conflict between health care providers and others.
Return-to-play decisions that are too strict, too lenient, or too arbitrary can
lead to unhealthy and unsatisfactory outcomes.
When to See a Doctor (Care of the Young Athlete)
A safe and speedy return to activity following a
sports injury or an illness depends on early recognition and treatment. Knowing
when to see your doctor is an important step in this process. With major
injuries or illnesses, there is little doubt about the need to seek medical
attention. However, it is much more difficult to know when to seek help if there
is no obvious trauma or if the symptoms don’t get in the way of playing.
Many overuse injuries, such as tendonitis or stress fractures, happen over time
and often have subtle symptoms. The result can be a delay in diagnosis and
treatment, and delays can lead to a more serious or disabling injury.
Wrestling (Care of the Young Athlete)
Wrestling is the oldest known sport, dating back
to prehistoric times. Today it's the fourth most common sport in which
athletes from different schools compete against each other. There are more than
50 kinds of wrestling. The most common types include folkstyle, freestyle,
Greco-Roman, sumo, and professional.