Main menu


Helena's physiotherapist advises parents to postpone sports specialization

HELENA — It is becoming increasingly common for young athletes to specialize in one sport at a young age in hopes of getting a college scholarship or becoming a professional. Studies show that specialization can actually hurt children more than it helps them.

“They think my kids will do better if they do this all year round. In fact there was a study that came out of Denmark and they looked at their national track team. Helena’s Peak・Noah Eschlemann, Ph.D., physiotherapist at Physical Therapy, says:

Specializing in sports at an early age can actually increase the risk of so-called overuse injuries.

The Cleveland Clinic found that overuse injuries account for over 50% of visits for young athletes. With PEAK physiotherapy, it can be 75% or more.

Helena's physiotherapist advises parents to refrain from early sports specialization

Kennedy Broadwell

Physiotherapist Dr. Dani Williams compares these injuries to paper clips.

“It’s like if you give someone a paper clip and tell them to break it, it won’t break right away. If you have very poor mechanics, like throwing, and you’re doing it over and over again, it’s going to give you something in the end,” she said. .

Eschulman and Williams’ biggest piece of advice? Leaving your child as a child is the best way to avoid these injuries.

“If your child only wants to play one sport, that’s fine. But off-season is recommended. Do something else. We live in Montana and hike , skiing, fishing, hunting, ice fishing, snowshoeing and all sorts of other options are available,” said Eschlemann.

Diversification is key. We encourage you to play multiple sports. Alternatively, we recommend staying active outside of sports. Eschlemann recommends doing weight training for kids ages 10 and up, or just having the kids take a friend out to play over the summer.

PEAK physicians recommend looking out for obvious signs of overuse damage.

“There are more obvious symptoms like jumper’s knee and Osgood-Schlatter disease that everyone has heard of. Yes, in sports, like runners and volleyball and basketball, where you’re jumping and running on hard ground, and a lot of things aren’t solidified or mature just because they’re not mature, like overgrowth. If you overuse it, it stresses that tenant out and it’s like a little bump,” Williams said.

“Just listening to the kids. Increased fatigue, changes in appetite, mood, behavior, etc. can all be signs of overusing something. Lack of interest in sports, sports Lack of interest in things other than, for sports.Things like that could definitely be a sign too,” added Eschlemann.

The pair are also urging parents to make sure their children are getting enough sleep and proper nutrition, two factors Eshleman says are “positively overlooked” and help improve post-workout body may help in the healing process of

For more information, the National Athletic Training Association provides early specialization recommendations here.