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Posted Date: 10/13/2015

The risks of “What’s your sport?” – Dr. Christopher Nicholas

High school quarterback

There is a question that I have heard being asked to more and more young athletes in recent years – “What’s your sport?”

Not “What sport are you playing this season?” but “What’s your sport?” as in what singular sport does your child play and dedicate all their time to?

And although we as doctors would never suggest young athletes not following their passions, but what we would suggest is they not so narrowly focus their interests – get out there and try some other sports too.

But what many may not fully realize is that varying up your activities brings health benefits in that it limits injuries sustained when certain muscle groups become overused.

Take for instance, a high school-aged pitcher or quarterback. They play their regular season then spend the entire offseason practicing their craft – trying out new pitches or working to hit receivers in stride further down field.

While their dedication is something to be commended, they’re continuing to stress those muscles by not allowing them to fully and properly recover – they’re continuing to put them through rigorous workouts.

The rate of overuse injuries caused from these practices are much more prevalent now than they were a generation ago.

This can be addressed by taking some time away from the sport – not abandoning the sport entirely, but perhaps focusing their time on other activities. If your sport required a throwing motion, maybe try one that doesn’t, like hockey, golf or basketball.

This is not something to be ashamed of, or to be met with feelings of failure. Far from it. I, like all parents, want to give my children the very best shot to perform at a high level in their favorite activities (and we still can), but it’s with these best intentions that it’s also in the athlete’s best interest to take some time away from “their sport.”

Christopher Nicholas, D.O., is an orthopedic surgeon with McLaren Macomb, routinely treating many athletes for a variety of injuries.

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