The Overuse of Youth

Young athletes are a big part of my practice.  From sprained ankles to separated shoulders to low back pain, my goal with them, as with all my patients, is to decrease pain and increase function as quickly as possible.  But with young athletes in particular, I want to try to minimize the effect that an injury has on the rest of their body long-term.  Our bodies are masters of compensation you see, so if one area becomes weak or injured or dysfunctional, another area steps up to counterbalance.  And herein lies the problem: where did the injury start?  Can we chase the dysfunction throughout the body to find the initial culprit?

Troubling trends that I’m finding amongst these young athletes are overuse injuries.  Most often, these kids are playing their primary sport nearly year-round.  Summer hockey.  Winter ball.  Indoor soccer.  In 2016, the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine released an Early Sport Specialization Consensus Statement, which you can read by clicking HERE.

AOSSM

This is my favourite part:

“The primary outcome of this think tank was that there is no evidence that young children will benefit from early sport specialization in the majority of sports. They are subject to overuse injury and burnout from concentrated activity. Early multisport participation will not deter young athletes from long-term competitive athletic success.”

Please take a moment to read that again.  “No evidence” of “benefit” from “early sport specialization.”  And a whole lotta downside in the form burnout and overuse injury.

Make no mistake, I love youth sport.  I’m a huge competitor and I was raised playing every sport around, as do my children.  But remember, better movers make better athletes, and your child’s body will not learn to move well if it has only been expected to do the same thing over and over again.  Multi-dimensional.  Multi-sport.  Multi-movement.  That’s the key to a well-balanced athlete, and more importantly, a healthy human body.

If nothing else, I hope this post gives you some food for thought.  Parents have thousands of choices to make throughout their children’s lives, and this one is a big one.

hockey rules


Family Day: Road Trips and Memories

I’m tired today, guys.  If you live in Southern Ontario, you might be feeling it too, as the grey skies and downpours have turned our Winter wonderland into a soupy mess.  But the blue sky and sunshine of Spring is not far off, and I had a great run connors runnerswith my crew this morning that started my day off right (and wet)….

I hope you enjoyed your Family Day weekend, I had a sporty one, just the way I like ’em:

I’m at Burlington Sports & Spine Clinic until 2:30pm today.  See you there!


“You are the joy of my life”

I was snuggling with my five-year-old daughter before she went to bed the other night, as is our normal routine.  She’s got a chiropractic-approved mattress in her bedroom, but for the last couple of months, she’s insisted on sleeping on a double air mattress on her floor.  This came about after my brother and his family visited at Thanksgiving; we set up the air mattress for additional sleeping space while they were here and, well, she’s staked her claim and insisted that the air mattress is her preferred sleeping spot.  So, there we have it, an expensive mattress sits unused while a cheap air mattress is favoured and cherished.  Kids are weird.

But, back to my story.  After we read bedtime books, we shut out the lights, and I lay beside her for a snuggle.  This is one of my favourite parts of the day; the part where she tells me her thoughts and asks me lots of questions.  This is uninterrupted, one-on-one time, the stuff parenting dreams are made of.

“Mom,” she whispered, her sleepy face snug up against mine, “you are the joy of my life.” joy

My heart filled and my tears welled up.  She said it just like that: “you are the joy of my life.”  Could there be a more perfect statement?  In just seven tiny words, she articulated the feelings I’ve had for years.  Joy, yes.  Joy of my life, definitely yes.

My eight-year-old son is also still in the snuggle-with-mama stage of life.  Last week we walked to school hand in hand, and I marvelled at the little boy who is growing up right before my eyes.  “When do you think you’ll be old enough that you don’t want to hold my hand anymore?” I asked him.  “Mom,” he said confidently, “I will never be too old to hold your hand.”  Oh, my sweet boy, how I hope that’s true.

My husband and I have been talking recently about how we’ve found ourselves in the “sweet spot” of parenting as of late.  We no longer have the physical challenges of babies and toddlers and we’re not yet into the emotional challenges of tweens and teens.  We can take our kids anywhere without worrying about naps and strollers and baby food, and yet they still want to be with us, with the full, unbridled enthusiasm of youth and naivety.

This is very likely our final Christmas with two Santa-believers still intact, and you can be sure I’m going to soak it all in, just like I’ve tried to do throughout their childhood.  I’ve heard that “the days are long but the years are short,” and I’ve found that to be true as this parenting train has rolled along, picking up speed as it goes.

Oh yes, you are the joy of my life.

the days are long