After coaching girls for years, there has been a lot of talk about preventing injuries. Injury prevention has been at the cornerstone of practices and the game plan. Participating in youth sports can be a great way for young girls to stay active. They learn new skills and build self-confidence. However, playing sports can also increase the risk of injury during puberty when the body is undergoing significant physical changes. Overuse injuries, in particular, can be a common problem for girls in youth sports.
What causes overuse injuries?
Overuse injuries occur when the body is subjected to repetitive stress without enough time to rest and recover. For example, a soccer player who repeatedly kicks a ball with one foot may develop an overuse injury in that foot. Overuse injuries can be particularly problematic for girls during puberty because they are undergoing rapid growth and changes in muscle, bone, and connective tissue. These changes can make girls more vulnerable to injury.
- One common overuse injury that affects young female athletes is patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS), also known as “runner’s knee.” PFPS occurs when the kneecap rubs against the thigh bone, causing pain and discomfort. This can be especially problematic for girls who participate in sports that involve a lot of running or jumping, such as basketball or volleyball.
- Another common overuse injury is stress fractures, which are tiny cracks in the bone that can occur as a result of repetitive stress. Girls who participate in sports that involve a lot of running or jumping may be at increased risk for stress fractures, particularly in the bones of the lower leg.
- Girls who participate in sports that require a lot of twisting or pivoting, such as soccer or gymnastics, may be at increased risk for anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries. The ACL is a ligament that connects the thigh bone to the shin bone, and it can be torn or strained when the knee is twisted or bent in a certain way. ACL injuries can be particularly problematic for girls because they can lead to long-term knee problems and may even require surgery.
Ideas on Injury Prevention
So, what can be done to prevent overuse injuries in young female athletes? One important step is to make sure that girls are getting enough rest and recovery time between practices and games. Girls who participate in multiple sports may be at increased risk for overuse injuries because they are constantly using the same muscles and joints. Encouraging girls to take breaks and rest can help prevent these injuries from occurring.
As a coach, it is important to recognize too many activities and to encourage rest days. Not only does it help prevent overuse physical injuries but also keeps athletes coming back, excited to play. It instills a continued love of that sport.
Using Proper Technique
Another important step is to make sure that girls are using proper technique and form when participating in sports. Coaches and trainers should emphasize the importance of proper warm-up and stretching before games and practices, and should also monitor girls’ technique to ensure that they are not putting excessive stress on their joints or muscles.
Finally, it is important to make sure that girls are wearing appropriate footwear and equipment for their sport. Shoes that provide proper support and cushioning can help reduce the risk of stress fractures and other injuries. Protective equipment, such as knee pads or braces, can also help prevent injuries in sports that involve a lot of impact or contact.
Overuse injuries are a common problem for young female athletes, particularly during puberty when the body is undergoing significant changes. By taking steps to prevent injuries, it will go a long way. You can do this by ensuring proper rest and recovery time, emphasizing proper technique and form, and providing appropriate footwear and equipment. Coaches, trainers, and parents can help young girls stay healthy and active while participating in youth sports.
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About the author:
Amy Masters is a sports mom, coach and club administrator. She has been coaching youth sports for more than 10 years. She started Jr Lions Field Hockey, the youth recreation program for the Hunterdon County community growing it from 40 players in year 1 to 150 players by year 3. A few years later, she saw the love and competitiveness grow then started Omega Field Hockey Club serving NJ and PA players. Prior to coaching, she was a collegiate field hockey player for Lock Haven University. In her spare time (lol), she is head of marketing for iSport360, where she brings her love of sports to a bigger audience.