Nicole Piela, PT, DPT
For many young athletes, specializing in year-round, single-sport training has become increasingly more common. But, for some of these athletes, this intensive training comes with a cost: overuse injuries.
Nicole Piela, PT, DPT, clinical director of Bacharach’s Mays Landing satellite and avid runner, has firsthand experience with overuse injuries.
An overuse injury occurs when a repetitive motion utilizes the same muscles for an extended period of time, causing trauma. “Overuse injuries are common and preventable and affect athletes of all ages and across all sports,” says Nicole.
Nicole running a marathon
Overuse injuries can affect shoulders, elbows, knees, ankles, hands and wrists, depending on the motion. Athletes who turn to Bacharach to help with overuse injuries are first evaluated in order to pinpoint the dysfunction.
“Rest is a super important component of the body’s recovery,” says Nicole. “A huge contributing factor to the increase in overuse injuries is the lack of rest that one-sport athletes get. Young athletes usually play on more than one team and their bodies are performing repetitive movements incorrectly with not enough rest.”
Another important aspect of preventing overuse injuries is focusing on an athlete’s body mechanics. If an athlete’s body mechanics are off, then their body will compensate, which increases risk for injury.
“It is very important for coaches to know the correct mechanics of their sport,” says Nicole. “They should also be aware of all the specific limitations for their team’s age group – such as pitch counts, and the recommended number of hours spent training.”
The first sign of an overuse injury is pain – pain to the touch, pain with certain motions, pain that doesn’t go away and increases while playing the sport. Overuse injuries can turn into chronic injuries, which can take longer to heal, and in the worst-case scenario can result in a tear that requires surgery.
“My biggest advice to parents is to make sure that the activities their children are participating in are well-rounded, so the children are strengthening their bodies and not working the same muscle groups over and over,” says Nicole. “Don’t encourage children to play through injuries – pain is the body’s way of telling you something is not right.”
If you think your child may be experiencing overuse injuries, call (609) 652-7000.