The impact of injuries
Injuries and stress fractures have dramatically increased over the years and are seen to happen more and more with the specialization of sports. Many argue that new methods of playing or restrictions should be enacted to prevent this.
When people use specific muscles repeatedly, it creates more of a likelihood for being injured. Along with using the same muscles, muscles that aren’t used on a regular basis are also at increased risk for injury if their use is suddenly increased.
“Repeated motions of the same manner increase the wear and tear on the joints around it. For example, a ballerina ends up with a lot of sprained ankles because they do a lot of what’s a plie position. So the ankle actually increases the laxity and gets more loose being more prone to injury. In baseball there’s something called Tommy John surgery for pitchers who constantly throw using one arm over and over and over in the same motion,” physical therapist at Memorial Hospital Ben Fogel said.
A lot of people focus on one sport because they believe that by spending more time in that sport, they will improve more than if they were playing multiple sports. However, they may choose to only do one sport for financial reasons.
“Most commonly, children pick one sport because they feel that by only doing one sport and focusing in it all year they have a higher likelihood to become better at it, also children sports are extremely expensive, so a lot of times picking multiple sports becomes a financial burden to the families,” Fogel said.
To prevent further injuries, people should strengthen as many muscles as they can. They can do this and stay in the same sport by changing the position they play. For example, switching a soccer player on the right side of the field to the left side of the field so they use both of their legs.
“People need to focus on conditioning and strengthening as many muscle groups as possible on a regular basis to prevent a weakened muscle or tendon from injury during a rapid contraction or prolonged use depending upon the sport and position played in the sport," Ohio State Orthopedic Surgeon Joel Mayerson said.
Damage to certain areas like lower limbs can cause athletes to struggle with their ability to move. According to Dartmouth College, "The lower limb consists of four major parts: a girdle formed by the hip bones, the thigh, the leg and the foot. It is specialized for the support of weight, adaptation to gravity and locomotion."
2016 graduate Madison Pitzer and former junior varsity soccer player, was one of the many athletes with damage to her lower limbs, specifically her shins. After having shin splints multiples times throughout her soccer career, she eventually developed a stress fracture.
"It was really painful and made a simple task difficult to do like running. I had to go to a trainer every week and complete exercises to reduce pain," Pitzer said.
Recurring injuries such as these have caused many parents and school faculty to debate whether sports like soccer should have stricter regulations, more restrictions or if they should be banned altogether.
"I believe that in any sport you can get injured but if you play correctly you can easily avoid injuries. I recommend athletes to always stretch before and after games and to seek medical attention if you notice any pain to prevent further damage," Pitzer said.