What kinds of injuries have you seen?
In youth athletes, meaning adolescents through high school, baseball ramped up quickly, so we’ve seen shoulder and elbow injuries. Typically, only young athletes who pitch would have these injuries. But this year we’ve seen some of those conditions in the other players, like shortstops, outfielders, and third-base players because when they throw, they throw hard.
Soccer and track and field have also restarted. This is where we’ve seen a majority of shin splints, which is inflammation where the muscles of the lower leg attach to the bone. We also see stress fractures in the shin bones, hips, and feet in our runners more than anybody else, especially the youth runners, because they typically are not as regular about their year-round training and may increase their mileage faster than they should.
How can people avoid these types of injuries?
The most important thing is to slowly build up your return to sports to reduce the risk of an overuse injury. For example, if you’re a gymnast, and in your first session back you’re doing all the same stunts and tricks you did nine months ago but haven’t had the same training, that’s when we run into problems with stress fractures and other injuries.
The American College of Sports Medicine, an organization representing various occupations within the sports medicine field, recommends the 10 percent rule when it comes to training. The 10 percent rule means you should resume any activity that you do at 10 percent intensity or duration level than what you can do at your highest performing state. In other words, a runner who can run 10 miles when they’re fit will run just 1 mile in a session. There’s a recovery period recommended between training sessions, and then you should increase your intensity or duration by no more than 10 percent per session or week, depending upon the activity. This rule can be applied to everything from running to rowing to weightlifting, and it’s good for athletes of all ages and skill levels, not just high school and college.
What other strategies are recommended?
If it’s necessary to practice every day, consider making every other day not as strenuous and monitor your intensity by keeping a journal. Focus on strategy, execution, and skill, as opposed to being as physically intense as you would normally be and add more rest intervals between training sessions. Also, make sure your equipment is in order. For example, if you’re a runner, check your shoes for signs of uneven wear. Overall, set realistic goals, have a plan, and don’t be too aggressive right away.