As one of the best physio clinics in Auckland, we treat people from all walks of life, and suffer from all sorts of painful conditions. In recent years, more and more of our patients are young teenagers presenting to us with sports injuries. This reflects a massive increase in the number of sports-related injuries to New Zealand kids aged 10 to 14; a 60% surge since 2008 according to figures released by the Accident Compensation Corporation. That’s the biggest increase of any age group.
This is of concern to us. Treating sports injuries is a huge part of what we do, of course, but when we’re dealing with young people not even in their teens, we have to ask this question: isn’t kids sport meant to be fun?
ACC agrees with us and in recent times they’ve been asking parents and coaches to take it a bit easier on our youngsters. One way they can do this is to follow a one-hour-for-every-year guideline, where the amount of organised sport per week – both training and competition – should not exceed their child’s age. It’s a pretty simple rule to follow i.e. a 10-year-old shouldn’t do more than 10 hours a week. That still gives them at least one hour of exercise every day, but it also allows them to take a break and rest up. When they overdo it, that’s when injuries most often occur, and that is when they come to us feeling sore and sorry. High-intensity training will reduce the energy available for a child’s growth and development, which can affect peak bone mass and the onset of puberty, as well as several other important body systems; this can have lifelong consequences for injury and physical and mental illness.
We would never argue against the benefits of organised sports in particular, and exercise in general. But when our kids are being asked to take on an unreasonable amount of training as well as actual competition, and suffering injuries and potential long-term problems as a result, that’s when we all need to stop and consider if we’re doing them more harm than good. Some kids look like world-beaters in the making, and in a way, it’s understandable that they’re asked to do a little more training than most. But not every kid is a Serena Williams, or a Christiano Ronaldo. They’re just kids and at their age, sport should be fun. Of course, we’re always here should your child need physiotherapy and you can contact us at any time. But, we’d be happier to see your young one enjoying their favourite activity with a smile on their face.