Year-round sports can take toll on kids' bodies

Tampa, Florida -- Many of you have been spending your summer at little league games, practices on Saturdays and traveling with your child's team. With that, more and more kids play sports year round, it may be contributing to an injury that could end their playing time all together.

It's a walk many dads and their sons take. Out onto the field with dreams their pitches and hits take them far beyond their hometown mound.

"I want to get to the MLB, obviously, and I want to be a pitcher that can also bat and is good at batting too," said Christian Cabina.

And if anyone has a shot, it's this 11-year-old. In an all-star game this season, he hit three home runs. He's been playing since he was 5 and now plays spring and fall ball.

But all that could have come to an end with an injury while he was pitching a few months ago.

"It was getting really hard for me because I couldn't even hold up my arm, I couldn't even pick it up by myself. I told my coach that something didn't feel right in my arm and so he took me out," said Christian Cabina, who also plays several other sports including football, soccer and basketball.

As a ball player himself, Christian's dad, Larry, said it was tough to pull him, but he knew it was the right call.

"He always would like to win if he can, but you don't want to jeopardize safety whether it be an arm, leg, back," said Larry Cabina. Hopefully their future and career will be continuous and you don't want to cut it short on them."

But many kids don't tell their coaches or parents when something's wrong. The federal Centers for Disease Control says more than 3.5 million kids, under the age of 14, get treated for sports injuries each year.

Physical therapist Paul Terry said since 2000, he's seen a five-fold increase in baseball and softball injuries alone.

"We're gearing kids toward practicing harder, playing harder, and the old adage, no pain no gain, really doesn't pertain to kids because their bodies just aren't prepared to what we're doing to them," he said.

In places like Florida, kids are able to play sports like baseball year round. Terry says that can lead to "overuse injuries," which are responsible for nearly half of all injuries for middle and high school athletes.

Are we talking about some of these injuries could end a kids career?

"Absolutely. Absolutely. Again overuse injuries can destroy a shoulder or elbow if we don't take care of it early on," Terry said.

Terry says 50 percent of these kinds of injuries are preventable. It starts with having your child play more than one sport.

"The benefit of other sports is athleticism. When we focus on one sport, we're training our body neuromuscular and athletically in one direction and research shows doing more is just better for the body as well as the mind."

For about 10 days, Christian rested, iced his arm and did basic stretching exercises, normal treatment if the injury is caught early. He is now pain free and able to throw again.

"I was worried and I didn't think that it was going to be that easy to get through and it could ruin my career of trying to be a baseball player," Christian Cabina said. "I'm glad I did it when I did so now I can still play baseball and still do everything I could before."

One simple call that means he can keep practicing toward his dream of the big leagues.

The best way to prevent this type of injury is to educate yourself and talk to your child. Here is some helpful information to deal with and prevent sports injuries:

Optimal Performance & Physical Therapies

American Sports Medicine Institute

Stop Sports Injuries


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