SPENCER -- It is estimated that 30 million youthful athletes participate in high school sports today in the United States.
This level of participation results in about four million injuries severe enough to require medical attention. Many of these injuries were previously sustained only by college and professional athletes.
The national Sports Trauma and Overuse Prevention (STOP) Sports Injuries Campaign was launched earlier this year by the American Orthopedic Society to provide education on sports injury prevention and reduction.
Directed at young people, parents, coaches, league directors, trainers and anyone interested in youth sports, the goals of the campaign include raising awareness, teaching proper training and injury prevention techniques and creating a love of sports and healthy competition that will keep young athletes in the game for life.
There has been a dramatic rise in the number and severity of injuries to young athletes over the last 10 years.
At least half of these injuries are related to overuse. Overuse injuries are caused by the excessive and repeated use of muscles, tendons, ligaments and bones beyond their limits of recovery and repair. Injuries must be identified and treated appropriately to avoid the risk of re-injury and long term-problems like arthritis.
The good news is that overuse injuries are largely preventable, as they tend to result from sports specialization. Sports specialization involves playing only one sport year-round or playing one sport on multiple teams during the same season.
Young, growing bodies aren't able to withstand the repeated movements and activities of one sport.
Other factors that lead to overuse injury include poor warm-up and cool-down routines, inadequate focus on flexibility, lack of pre-participation physicals, athletes' hesitancy to discuss injuries or their tendency to downplay them, inappropriate treatment and recovery and excessive pressure.
A sobering statistic is that 70 percent of young athletes have stopped participating in sports by the age of 13 because of health concerns of coaches and parents.
To address these issues on the local and regional level, a STOP Sports Injuries Campaign was launched last month in Bloomington.
As part of that campaign, the Owen County Family YMCA will be hosting Dr. Doug Flory, orthopedic surgeon, for Wellness Friday from 10 a.m. to noon. Dr. Flory will offer free foot scans and present information concerning sports injury prevention.
Members and non-members of all ages are welcome for this free event.
Facility tours will be available upon request. For more information call the YMCA at 812-828-9622.