Kids specializing in one sport have more injuries

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MERRIAM, Kan. -- It used to be that kids just went out to the park and played with friends.  Not so much anymore. Many kids are involved in organized sports, and sometimes it's the same sport year-round.

A new study finds that results in more injuries.  The study included more than a thousand kids ages eight to 18.  Researchers from Loyola University in Chicago looked at how much time the kids spent in organized sports compared to just playing. Those who spent twice as much time in organized sports were more likely to be injured, and especially if they played a single sport.

"The body's always in a constant state of building itself up and breaking it down," Matt Humpert, a certified athletic trainer at Shawnee Mission Medical Center, said. "Obviously, if you don't take time off or you keep doing the same motion over and over again, you're gonna set yourself up for injury."

Humpert says the most concern is with kids who play the same sport year-round.

"We see instances where a kid will play on a traveling team, whatever it be, and they'll also try to fit in other sports," Humpert said. "Specialization, if you play one sport all year-round, you really never get an off-season. Without an off-season, that natural downtime or doing a different activity, getting some cross-training, you can lead yourself to overuse type injuries."

His advice to parents? Really listen to your child.

"Have them tell you when something's hurt," he said. "One of my red flags is during normal activity if you're getting sore, injured or feeling pain and you haven't really worked out or something the day before. So it's kinda noticing aches and pains more so than what you'd expect from a normal practice or game."

The study also found that kids who participated in more hours per week of physical activity -- any activity -- than their age were more likely to be injured. So someone who's 10 years old and exercises 11 hours a week would be at higher risk. But Humpert doesn't think much of that finding. He says after all, we want kids to be active. There are so many benefits in terms of preventing obesity and all the health problems that come with being sedentary.

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