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Burnout and overtraining are forcing young athletes to abandon sport, new report reveals

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With around 70% of adolescents and children dropping out of school organized sports at age 13, experts are looking at potential reasons for early burnout.

The dropout statistic was revealed in a new report from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) — “Overuse Injuries, Overtraining, and Burnout in Young Athletes” — published in the journal Pediatrics on January 22.

Given the growing trend of young athletes competing on multiple teams at the same time while training year-round, pediatricians told Fox News Digital they’re seeing more cases of burnout and related injuries to stress at young ages.

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“Burnout is real and it’s something parents and coaches need to be aware of,” said Dr. James Barsi, a pediatric orthopedic surgeon at Stony Brook Children’s Hospital in Long Island, New York, who is not affiliated with AAP reporting. Fox News Digital.

A current quarterback for a high school football team, who also plays travel baseball on Long Island, N.Y., said he sees burnout in some of his peers.

Exhausted athlete

About 70% of teens and children drop out of organized sports before the age of 13, according to a new report. (iStock)

“(There’s) definitely a pressure on kids these days because they’re trying to be the best athletes they can be and it’s always on their shoulders, like, ‘I have to train more and more to to be the best,’” he said. adding that his former teammates told him they “can’t do it anymore.”

The AAP report, which was an update of a previous report released in 2007, indicated that excessive scheduling and excessive training levels could lead to burnout, contributing to the high rate of abandonment in sport.

This intense training volume could also affect a young athlete’s ability feeling of well-being and quality of life, notes the report.

Injured basketball player

There’s a growing trend of young athletes competing on multiple teams at the same time — and pediatricians say they’re seeing more cases of burnout and stress-related injuries. (iStock)

“Whether training is specialized or multi-sport, it becomes a problem when an athlete no longer has free playing time or the opportunity to participate in other non-sport activities,” said Dr. Andrew Watson, MD, co-author of the report. said in a press release.

“The old adage ‘no pain, no gain’ is not necessarily true.”

Some level of stress can be productive, experts agree, but excessive amounts can become a problem.

“Sports competition and training will always elicit some stress which, when administered appropriately, leads to adaptation, success and enjoyment,” Watson said.

“When this stress becomes excessiveThis can lead to burnout.”

Injured volleyball player

The new AAP report highlights that overscheduling and excessive training levels could lead to burnout, contributing to the high rate of youth sports dropouts. (iStock)

The AAP defines overtraining as “a decline in performance due to an imbalance between training and recovery that is often accompanied by persistent fatigue, sleeping troubles and mood changes.

Dr. Kristin Hopkins, director of the Women’s Sports Medicine Center at Stony Brook Medicine and team physician for the Stony Brook University track and field team in Long Island, New York, was not affiliated with the report but said commented.

She said that in today’s sports landscape, there is “no off season” for kids who are passionate about a sport and aspire to play that sport in college – which can put young athletes at risk. burnout and injuries.

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“This kind of continuous play can expose kids’ joints to what we call overuse injuries, things that we didn’t really see before because a kid would play one sport for a season and then move on to another sport and was using a different muscle group,” Hopkins told Fox News Digital.

“Micro-trauma” of bones and soft tissues

An overuse injury typically occurs when the body is exposed to repetitive stress without enough recovery time, notes the AAP.

This can lead to “cumulative microtrauma” to bones and soft tissues, such as muscles or tendons.

The pain usually occurs after activity and then progresses to occur even at rest, the report said.

A pediatric orthopedic surgeon in New York said he sees spinal stress fractures about 10 times a month.

Children and adolescents Individuals are at increased risk of suffering these types of injuries because their bones continue to grow and do not tolerate stress as well as adult bones, experts say.

“I see stress fractures of the spine about 10 times a month,” Barsi, the pediatric surgeon, told Fox News Digital, amid what he called a “growing epidemic” of overuse injuries in children.

girl stretching

It’s important for athletes to incorporate rest days and stretching into their training schedule, doctors said. (iStock)

Recovery from this type of injury usually requires rest, Barsi said, which is a difficult message to convey to a young teenager who feels the pressure to perform and maintain their spot on a sports team.

“I always focus on the long term,” Barsi said. “A brief, short-term rest period is probably best for them.”

He added: “If injuries progress, it can cause long-term damage – so instead of missing a few weeks, they could miss an entire season.”

“I tell parents and children that if you play a sport more hours a week than your age, you are doing too much.”

It’s important for athletes to incorporate rest days and stretching into their training schedule, doctors said.

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“Very often these kids are very tight to begin with, which is probably a combination of not stretching, going through a little growth spurt and naturally tightening up,” Barsi said. “When you’re tense, you’re predisposed to these injuries, so stretching can actually prevent them.”

He also said athletes should listen to their bodies.

“Pain is their body’s way of telling them to relax,” he said. “The old adage ‘no pain, no gain’ is not necessarily true.”

Boys playing hockey

Intense training volume could affect a young athlete’s sense of well-being and quality of life, the new report notes. (iStock)

Dr. Joel Brenner, MD, one of the authors of the published report, noted in the release: “Sports are such a powerful and fun motivator for keeping young people physically and mentally active, but some young people may feel the pressure from their parents, their coaches and others. measure success solely by performance.

Practices such as mindfulness and time away from sports could help prevent burnout and injuries, he suggested.

Hopkins said avoiding burnout and overtraining starts at home.

“I tell parents and children that if you play a sport more hours a week than your age, you are doing too much.”

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Both experts recommended incorporating bodybuilding to help strengthen muscles.

Young athletes should also work with an experienced trainer, Hopkins said, who can monitor the athlete’s form to avoid injury.

Athletes should “avoid lifting their ego” and gradually build resistance to the weight, Barsi noted.

Athlete with coach

If an athlete shows signs of overtraining or burnout, it is best to modify the contributing factors and consult a mental health professional if necessary, advises the AAP. (iStock)

For clinicians working with families, the AAP report included specific recommendations to help encourage healthy participation in athletics.

Some suggestions include that the athlete undergo a pre-participation exam by their pediatrician, promoting skill development and avoiding overtraining and excessive schedules.

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Other ways to prevent burnout and injuries include encouraging athletic independence; foster positive experiences with coaches, parents and peers; and keep workouts interesting and fun by incorporating age-appropriate games and workouts.

If an athlete shows signs of overtraining or burnout, it is best to modify the contributing factors and consult a specialist. mental health professional if necessary, the AAP advised.

Fox News Digital has contacted AAP for additional comment.

For more health articles, visit www.foxnews.com/health.



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