Sport Specialization May be Causing Long-Term Problems for Athletes

Sports are part of many kids lives from the time they’re old enough to walk until they reach college age. A few lucky ones even go on to play professionally in some capacity. And while parents scramble to help their child become the best athlete possible in their formative years, forcing them to focus on one sport may be doing more harm than good.

Conditions like tennis elbow (epicondylitis) or runner’s knee (Chondromalacia) are aptly named because they’re common to a single sport. The same movements put ongoing stress on the same parts of the body, leading to strains, sprains, and tears. At Ideal Spine, we strive to help parents and budding athletes realize the value in practicing many sports, instead of specializing.

Specialization is limiting

Consider a sport like baseball. Throwing, catching, and swinging are all unique motions a player may go through hundreds of times per game. So, of course, this is where they’re focus their training. They’ll lift weights to work their chest, core, arms, shoulders, and back. They’ll stretch out to these motions. Ultimately, a baseball player needs to isolate a majority of their training to these same areas, so they’re ready when game-time comes.

But this is a double-edged sword. Problems are quick to develop in two ways.

First, overwork. Training the same muscles and isolating the same movements can cause everything from tendonitis to muscle strains and tears. All it takes is one throw too far or a swing that’s off-kilter to force these muscles into the red, causing injury.

Second, is underutilization of other muscle groups and motions. A baseball player may not focus too much on strengthening their calves or practicing dexterous footwork. This leaves them open to something like an Achilles tear.

Long-term ramifications

Even if an athlete is lucky enough to avoid injury, specialization is still problematic in the long run. Overwork and isolation in certain areas of the body leave these areas compromised later in life. Someone who has thrown 5,000 pitches in their young career may develop range of motion issues in their shoulder in just a few shorts years after playing. The more duress put on the body, the more it’ll compensate by altering natural biomechanics.

Why cross training is the answer

The answer to preventing athletic injuries isn’t to stop playing sports. It’s to cross train. Enroll kids in complementary sports that encourage total body conditioning and offset muscle groups. Playing soccer in the spring and baseball in the fall trains the upper and lower body, while giving both time to rest in the offseason. Track and field meets volleyball. Football complements swimming. The body gets exposure to total training, for optimal balance.

Ideal Spine also advocates a Chiropractic BioPhysics (CBP) maintenance schedule, to offset the stress of intense training. Addressing things like range of motion restriction and areas of inflammation, CBP may aid in recovery, helping cross-training athletes avoid injury and maintain their athletic prowess.

Chiropractic BioPhysics® corrective care trained Chiropractors are located throughout the United States and in several international locations. CBP providers have helped thousands of people throughout the world realign their spine back to health, and eliminate a source of chronic back pain, chronic neck pain, chronic headaches and migraines, fibromyalgia, and a wide range of other health conditions. If you are serious about your health and the health of your loved ones, contact a CBP trained provider today to see if you qualify for care. The exam and consultation are often FREE. See www.CBPpatient.com for providers in your area.