Athletes and Overuse Injuries

Premier Health providers answer frequently asked questions about sports related overuse injuries.

Is it better for kids to play multiple sports or to specialize?

Dr. Jeffrey James discusses why student athletes should play multiple sports. Click play to watch the video or read the transcript.

Is it better for kids to play multiple sports or to specialize?

As far as youth sports go, it's much better for kids to play multiple sports. The specialization really shouldn't come until high school, if not college, and that's for multiple reasons. One, doing the same activity all year long does lead to overuse injuries and a lot of muscular imbalances. And if you're doing that, you oftentimes don't get adequate rest because you're doing the same sport the whole entire year. Whereas if you're changing sports, it, one, gives ... For example, if you're a baseball player, it oftentimes can give your arm, your shoulder, your elbow time to recover while you're doing basketball or football or whatever sport you choose to play, while also you get a completely different set of muscles and tendons and bone stresses, if you want to call it that, where over time that's good for preventing the muscle imbalances and problems with overuse injuries.

 

As far as youth sports go, it's much better for kids to play multiple sports. The specialization shouldn't come until high school, if not college. That’s because doing the same activity all year long does lead to overuse injuries and a lot of muscular imbalances. If you're specializing, you often don't get adequate rest because you're doing the same sport for the entire year. If you're a baseball player and you change sports, it can give your arm, your shoulder or your elbow time to recover while you're doing basketball or football. This also allows you to use a completely different set of muscles and tendons and bones. Over time, that's good for preventing muscle imbalances and problems that come with overuse injuries.

Source: Jeffrey James, DO, Jon Sulentic, DO, Premier Orthopedics; Justin Perkins, Premier Health athletic trainer; American Medical Society for Sports Medicine; National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases