Dr. Neeru Jayanthi of Loyola Medicine defines sports specialization as intensive training in a single sport, year-round at the exclusion of all other sports. While some athletes feel that intensive training at a young age will put them at an advantange, Jayanthi says the reverse can actually occur.
“You actually make it harder on your body because when you have a kid who has adult-level skills but they have a developing body, they don’t absorb that stress the same way that an adult or a mature body would,” he says.
Jayanthi offers the following tips to reduce the risk of injuries in young adults:
- Don’t spend more hours per week than your age playing a particular sport. For example, if an athlete is 10 years old, he/she should not spend more than 10 hours a week playing his/her particular sport.
- Don’t spend more than twice as much time playing organized sports as you spend in gym and unorganized play.
- Don’t specialize in one particular sport before late adolescence.
- Don’t play sports competitively year round. Take a break from competition for one to three months each year (this does not have to be consecutively, however).
- Take at least one day off a week from training in sports.
To read more on Jayanthi’s findings, please visit the following link: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110502121741.htm