When a high school athlete has designed their identity around a sport and the potential of a future in collegiate athletics, suffering an ACL tear can feel like the body’s ultimate betrayal. An ACL tear is a traumatic and painful injury that can leave an athlete on the sidelines for up to a year, seriously delaying any progress they might have been making in their sport. But multiple ACL tears, one right after the other, can be devastating for a promising high school athlete not only physically, but emotionally as well.
In recent years, sports specialization has become a hot topic amongst both parents of young athletes and medical professionals. There are a lot of questions swirling around early specialization: When should my child begin to focus on just one sport year-round? Are there injury risks associated with specialization? Does specializing in one sport provide a significant benefit for their skill development?
While answers to these questions aren’t always straightforward, in a recent study Dr. Mininder Kocher, an orthopedic surgeon and associate director of the Boston Children’s Hospital Sports Medicine Division, found some compelling evidence of the risks of early sports specialization.
It’s August during the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janiero, Brazil. Abbey D’Agostino is a runner in the 5,000-meter preliminary heat. She smiles and waves at the camera as it pans in front of the participants at their starting blocks — a positive, self-assured smile that stands out amongst the competitive grimaces around her. In this moment, she is where all track and field athletes aspire to be — at the pinnacle of their sport in an Olympic stadium.
When your child plays a sport, it’s often hard to tell where everyday aches and pains end and a potentially serious injury begins. Bumps and bruises are anything but rare in contact sports, and muscle soreness can be a common complaint for any young athlete — especially given the rigor of youth athletics these days. So how do you know when your child’s hip pain is due to an actual injury?