Specializing in One Sport May Not Be Great for Young Kids

Families are already gearing up to send kids back to school and back to the sports teams they love. Or wait -- maybe they didn’t stop playing their favorite sport over the summer. Travel teams have become de rigueur for many young children and teens, whether they’re on a softball team or swim on a USA Swim-sanctioned club team. Our own Monmouth County boasts more than 2 dozen soccer clubs!

It’s great fun for kids, no question. But a year-round sport also creates a ton of opportunities to get injured, says the American Journal of Sports Medicine. In a study published just last month, they found that a child who specializes in one sport at an early age is about 50% more likely to get injured than athlete-kids who don’t specialize.

Feet, ankles, and overuse injuries

It’s not too difficult to understand that when you perform the same activity over and over, chances are good you’re going to get overuse injuries! Common injuries that the study noted were stress fractures, tendonitis, and ankle sprains. Board-certified podiatrists Dr. Samantha Boyd, Dr. Hal Ornstein, Dr. Joseph Saka, and Dr. Katy Statler of Affiliated Foot & Ankle Center have many years of experience with children’s foot care, including treatment of these three kinds of injuries.

Growing kids also have to watch out for heel problems:

  • Sever’s disease is more a syndrome than a disease, in which the muscles, tendons, and ligaments around the heel are stretched too tightly. The heel becomes tender, red, and swollen from overuse. Sever’s disease is common in active boys and girls in the midst of puberty and growth spurts.
  • Growth plate injury - damage to the heel that can actually alter the shape of the bone.

Year-round competitive sports keep a kid occupied and doing what they love. It’s up to parents to decide if they’re worth the risk of injury. Remember to contact our office if your child experiences a sports injury to their foot or has recurrent heel pain. You can make an appointment online or give our office in Howell, New Jersey, a call at (732) 905-1110.