Saturday, November 22, 2008

One-sport athletes have a higher risk of injury

In the November 13 issue of the Wisconsin State Journal, the front-page article was about how youth who train rigorously in just one sport are at risk for more sports injuries than their multi-sport peers.

Local doctors from the University of Wisconsin Hospital and the UW Medical School said that injuries can occur from muscle overuse.

The article doesn’t site a study, and, in fact, one of the physicians said that there really isn’t one that proves one-sport athletes have more injuries. However, she said that if you were to ask sports physicians if they’re seeing more one-sport athletes with injuries, they’d say yes.

What does this mean for the figure skating parent? Well, I’m pretty uncomfortable about it, I tell you.

Ice Girl skates eight hours/week and more if she can. She loves to ride her bike, but I’m not sure that balances out the risk. If you’ve spent any time in the figure skating world, you know that eight hours is nothing. Most kids skate 12 + hours/week.

The doctors in the article said that chronic pain is a red flag and the cure is to take time off from the sport. "If you take a break now and you give your body a chance to recover and heal, then you're going to be healthier and happier later," said Dr. Alison Brooks, an assistant professor in the orthopedics department at the UW medical school. "But if you keep trying to push through pain and injury and never give your body a chance to recover, it's never going to recover. Most people, of course, don't want to hear, 'Part of your treatment is not playing your sport.”

Ice Girl’s not having pain and she’s having plenty of fun. I’m hoping recreational biking and swimming will balance out any one-sport injury risk.


Susana said...

My daughter just started taking ballet lessons twice a week. Her teacher told me yesterday that she can tell she is a figure skater by the difference in muscle mass in her legs (she has more muscle in the one she uses for spins and spirals). She said this could lead to injuries and suggested that ballet would help to make both legs even. I certainly hope so!!

Anonymous said...

Please heed my warning!!! Listen to your skaters when they say they have pain. My daughter has been skating since the age of 2 and earlier this year she had to have 2surgeries because she had developed 2 inguinal hernia's. She had been complaining of minor pain just over her pubic bone around the age of 10 and I thought it may have been because she was starting her menstrual cycle. She had to have a pelvic exam at the age of 12 to rule out problems with her reproductive organs before they could diagnose the hernia's.
The surgeon said she developed the hernia's from over use of the muscles during skating.
She has been through 6 months of physical therapy and 2 surgeries to get her back to the level she was before she had surgery. Inguinal hernia's are not common in figure skaters but they are in hockey players.
The doctors and physical therapist recommended off ice conditioning and flexibility traning as well as cross training with other sports.
My daughter has started swimming and I got her a gym membership for the off ice conditioning because our rink does not have off ice conditioning during the fall winter season (only in the summer). I'm also looking for a ballet class she can take. Please listen to your skaters and take them to the doctor immediately when they are complaining of pain for more than 1-2 days especially during their skating time.

Ice Mom said...

Hoo-boy. Thanks for the post about hernias, Anony. That's one I wouldn't have thought of.

Ice Girl is in ballet once a week and we walk a mile as a family every night. Since it's winter here, I don't think she'll be on her bike much.

I'm hoping that the ballet and walking help balance out the skating, but I'm not too sure. Next time Ice Girl goes to the physician, I'll be asking for his advice.

angel said...

At your daughters level I woudnt worry alot about it.But she can do things that will help her later and develop good habits.
A good warm up off ice, doing moves daily, and off ice work will help. Off ice could be ballet, running, gymnastics, yoga ect.

Anonymous said...

Read Warrior Girls. It's about soccer mostly, but is a great book on injuries to girls in sports, sports psychology of female athletes, and how to prevent injuries.

A must have for any parent of a female athlete.