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4 Ways Athletes Can Avoid Injury and Prevent Burnout

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4 Ways Athletes Can Avoid Injury and Prevent Burnout

Sports specialization is a term that has been gaining popularity in the high school sports world in recent years.

Sports specialization refers to training for more than 8 months per year, choosing a single main sport, and/or quitting all other sports to focus on the main sport. The idea behind sports specialization is to become “the best,” play at the Division One level in college and ultimately become a professional athlete. After all, practice makes perfect, right?

“Wrong,” says Kaan Celebi, DPT, OCS, SCS, CSCS, clinical coordinator, St. Charles Sports Medicine.

“The problem with sports specialization for young athletes is that it puts them at risk for injury and burnout. When playing a single sport all year, they repeatedly put their body through the same motion without active rest and thereby increase their risk for overuse injuries,” he explains.

Celebi recommends that coaches and parents protect student athletes by:

Diversifying: Allow high school athletes to play several different sports and challenge their bodies in new ways. Make it a point to choose sports and activities with different movement patterns than those used in the primary sport. For example, if an athlete’s main sport is soccer, allow them to play baseball to develop their hand/eye coordination.

Taking a Mental Break: Encourage athletes to take a mental break from structured sports. Seasons are long and practice and games are intense. Continued high stress combined with high physical demand on the body is a recipe for disaster.

Actively Resting: Have athletes actively rest following seasons. Active rest means taking a break from the demands of a single sport but it doesn’t mean student athletes should sit on the couch and play video games. An informal game of pick-up basketball with friends can go a long way.

Recovering Between Games: St. Charles Sports Medicine offers Long Island high school athletes a recovery clinic similar to those for professional athletes. The free clinic aims to prevent overuse injuries during the season by encouraging muscle recovery between games. Student athletes work one-on-one with athletic trainers and St. Charles sports therapy specialists, who guided them through stretching exercises. The clinic also offers treatments to address swelling, such as full submersion ice water baths (cryotherapy),professional quality electrical stimulation devices and intermittent compression devices.

For more information about St. Charles Sports Medicine' Sunday Recovery Clinic, please call (631) 474-6797.