I’m a mom of two active boys who love soccer. They’ve been playing since they were five years old. One is a striker and one plays goalie, so I am all too familiar with the constant activity, travel and commitment that comes with youth club soccer and the toll it takes on their bodies.
As a former athlete and a physical therapist, I know how important it is to give your body time to rest and recover from overuse of the muscles and joints. When my kids came to me and said they wanted to take a break this season, I understood.
They were set to start at a new school, make new friends and join new teams. They felt it was the right time to take a season off and I decided to let them make that choice. In my work I see a lot of sports-related injuries come through the door of our Mooresville office. Whether it is from knee pain, ACL tears, Achilles, ankle injuries or something else a lot of it is a result of overuse and lack of rest.
Every year, more than 3.5 million children under the age of 14 need treatment for sports injuries, and nearly half of all sports injuries sustained by young students caused by overuse. No one sport is specifically to blame but by nature of their bodies children are more susceptible to repetitive injuries. They are still growing and are most vulnerable to injuries in the soft growth plate areas of developing tissue.
Allowing and encouraging your kids to take a break and enjoy an off season is important. Rest for recovery may be the best kept secret. You may not be able to “see” the repair, recovery and rejuvenation during the rest but you will see the return of energy and excitement. On the flip side, we certainly see the consequences of the opposite approach: fatigue, burnout and injury top the list.
Year-round sports sometimes seem like they are trending toward being the standard because no one wants to fall behind. It’s the “keep up with the Joneses” mentality that is rampant in our parenting and our youth sports today. You and your child can decide what is best, but as a parent and a medical provider I can tell you that time off can help them actually become a better athlete.
Time off from competition and play allows recovery in all the facets of an athlete’s life. That’s especially important for our young people, high school students, and increasingly our middle school kids, who are under a great deal of stress socially, mentally, psychologically and physically. Given those complexities, managing the physical recovery may be the easiest of all.