Crack! Tear! Pop! The Rise of Sports-Related Injuries in Young People

By Tommy McKay

Have you ever participated in an athletic activity and then suddenly heard that dreadful sound?
The sound of a pop or a crack, and after a split second, you feel the pain start to flood in. You realize
that something has gone terribly wrong. The next thing you know, you’ve have been benched for the rest
of the season. Athletic injuries are a common occurrence amongst young people these days. I for one suffered a substantial injury years ago when I was in the third grade.

This Happened To Me:
One day, I was involved in a game of recreational soccer. During that game, my legs were
sprinting down the field as fast as they could. My destination was towards the opposition, who was in
a position of the ball. As I neared the opposing player, I drew back my leg preparing to strike.
Unfortunately, I missed my target, and my leg came barreling into the opposition’s leg. A loud, scary
crack filled the air. At first, I did not know what had happened, but when I hit the ground, pain shot up
my leg like a blazing fire. It was excruciating, and I was sure something was broken. Immediately, my dad
rushed me to the hospital and soon after our arrival, the doctors delivered their diagnosis. They
confirmed that I had fractured my shin and that I was required to wear a full leg cast for close to two
months. This entire experience was not fun, but fortunately, I recovered and was able to return to
playing soccer in the coming months after.

My Story Is Not Unique Here’s The Problem:
My overall experience regarding my injury is nothing special. In fact, sports injuries among
young people are extremely common and are on the rise. This is a problem. The overall numbers
regarding sports injuries among young people are high resulting in a whopping 3.5 million injuries per
year (1). Most of these injuries occur in contact sports, but serious injuries can still occur even in sports
without physical contact (1). For example, one of the main problems that result in sports injuries is the overuse of muscles (2). Overusing your muscles can result in torn ligaments such as an ulnar collateral
ligament injury which is an elbow tear commonly seen in baseball (2). The overuse of muscles is the
result of single sports seasons running yearly causing many young people to constantly train and play
without a break. In the past, young people were more likely to play multiple sports during different
seasons, instead of just one (3). This is considered healthier because it allows for variations in muscle
use and allows time for other muscles to rest (3). I for one can confirm that overusing muscles does
result in injury because I suffered a shoulder tear while swimming. This injury was specifically the result
of me swimming yearly and not taking a break. The biggest takeaway from this problem is that it is
preventable, and there are organizations out there that are working to educate people on how to refrain
from injury.

Here Is a Non-Profit Organization Working to Solve the Problem:
An organization that is working to halt sports injuries in young people is the STOP Sports Injuries
campaign. This campaign was created by the American Orthopedic Society for Sports Medicine and has
over a hundred different organizations backing its mission (4). Some of the organizations supporting
this campaign are clinics and trainer’s societies (4). The STOP Sports Injuries campaign’s mission is also
concerned with informing the public about how to prevent and administer aid to injuries (5). One of the
clinics backing the campaign, The Cleveland Center for Sport’s Health, suggests one of the primary
prevention methods against injuries is to explain to parents the risks of letting their children participate
in a single year-round sport (4). Overall, the STOP Sports Injuries campaign is continuing to expand its
influence to prevent sports injuries in young people.

Here’s what you can do to help right now
If you have a child or know someone that has a child participating in a sport, make sure to visit
the American Orthopedic Society for Sports Medicine website for injury prevention information. Here is a link to their website that shows recent updates in the development of Sports Medicine.

(1) (2022) Sports Injury Statistics. Stanfordchildrens.

(2) Champion, C. (2021, March 31) Injuries among youth athletes are on the rise – but why?

(3) The Doctors at Active Health KC. (2022) The Rise of Youth Sports Injuries. Activehealthkc.

(4) (2010, April 20) STOP Sports Injuries Campaign: Prevent Overuse Injuries. Momsteam.

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