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CHANNEL 5 – Dr. Lehman – Single-sport kids may be prone to injury

May 23, 2016

We have a warning from a prominent orthopedic surgeon– it may be time to think about putting your kid on the bench for some rest.

Ryan Dean, KSDK
It’s the end of the school year, which means many young athletes will start playing summer sports. But a prominent orthopedic surgeon is recommending some parents think about putting their kid on the bench for some rest.

Over the past few years, Dr. Rick Lehman has seen an increase in kids treated for overuse injuries.

“This year-round stress, stress, stress with no recovery phase increases your chances of getting hurt,” Lehman said.

Dr. Lehman said his practice is also seeing more young athletes specializing in only one sport throughout the year rather than playing multiple sports.

“The last NCAA report tells us that if you specialize at a sport at young age your chances of getting hurt are much higher and your chances of excelling at that sport are decreased,” he said.

Lindenwood University women’s basketball coach Tony Francis certainly feels there’s a correlation with one sport athletes and injuries.

“Been a college coach 14 yrs. Seen more injuries to kids at this level because they specialized & only played 1 sport in High school. #playeverything,” he tweeted.

“I don’t think they understand the amount of rest they need. I don’t think they understand mentally you have to step away for a period of time to recharge the batteries,” Francis said.

Nobody understands that more than the person sitting near him on the bench. Lindenwood assistant coach and former player, Morgan Harrington, said she’s a product of overuse injuries.

“I lived in the gym. I remember going to the gym Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Thanksgiving,” Harrington said.

Harrington said her body started breaking down in her first year of college, leading to an injury-plagued career.

“Once I got into college I ended up with six stress fractures in my left tibia.”

The injuries led Harrington to cut her playing career short.

“I had one more year to play but I decided to forgo that season because I was graduating, but also my body just couldn’t do it anymore and I decided it wasn’t worth it,” she said.

Harrington said all the pain she went through has made her a better coach.

“There’s no doubt in my mind. I think it shows the balance that you need. You can push your athletes so far but there is a time where their bodies, you have to think about them,” she said.

Dr. Lehman said rest is key. He advises parents to not let their child play the same sport back-to-back. For example, if your child plays baseball in the spring he recommends another sport in the summer.

“Vary the sports so the stress in your body are all different. Obviously you have different stresses playing basketball than you do playing baseball,” he said.

If your child plays multiple sports each year, Dr. Lehman also recommends the young athlete take one season off in a year’s time to rest.

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