Playing Multiple Sports Prevents Overuse Injury, According to UVA Orthopedic Surgeon
ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. (WVIR) - Too much of one thing is never good. University of Virginia sports medicine orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Winston Gwathmey, suggests parents should encourage their children to play more than one sport to prevent injury and burn out.
Focusing on single-sport specialization can put your student-athlete at risk for an overuse injury. Many kids become good at a single sport, but as their bodies grow and develop playing the same sport year-round means they are exhausting the same muscle groups. This can lead to overuse injury and loss of the ability to play the sport they love.
"Playing multiple sports throughout the year would be helpful it allows the body to recover from each sport and activate different muscles and different bones put less stress on the human skeleton,” says Dr. Gwathmey.
He suggests playing throwing sport during one season and a non-throwing sport the next season.
"I think it’s important for parents to realize 13 and 14 years old even though you want your kids to play a specific sport when you start to specialize them too soon or too early you might expose them to injuries that might relate to that sport,” suggests Gwathmey.
Western Albemarle high school athletic director Steve Heon believes playing multiple sports makes kids better overall athletes. According to Heon around 50 percent of his students are one-sport athletes and some of those sports are all year round like track. 40 to 50 percent that are two-sport athletes and 5 percent are three-sport athletes.
"Athleticism is really what college coaches are looking for,” says Heon.
Some student-athletes have excelled at picking up an additional sport.
"We’ve had athletes that primarily concentrate on team sports right who then have given track an opportunity and all of a sudden they've found they are good athletes," Heon says.
Dr. Gwathmey warns student-athletes not to play through an injury to protect themselves from chronic problems at a young age.
Heon has this advice for parents. "Parents need to be aware that they need to keep it fun and give kids the opportunity to play multiple sports."