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Tips to help prevent overuse injuries in young athletes

March 1, 2024

With the spring sports season on the horizon, it is important for families to make sure young athletes take care of themselves so they don’t get hurt.

Sports like soccer, swimming, gymnastics and track can be great for social and physical development. But when kids train or play too hard, they can get injured.

About half of all sports-related injuries in kids result from overuse. These injuries happen when a child’s body can’t keep up with the demands of an activity. For example, if young pitchers practice for hours every day and pitch in several baseball games each week, their bones, muscles and other tissues might not have enough time to recover.

When an overuse injury occurs, there might not be obvious signs like swelling or bruising. So athletes and their families might not realize they need medical care.

Generally, overuse injuries come on gradually and follow stages like these:

  • Stage 1: The athlete has pain in a specific part of the body after games or workouts.
  • Stage 2: The athlete has pain while playing or practicing, but it doesn’t affect performance.
  • Stage 3: The athlete has more serious pain and cannot play the sport.
  • Stage 4: The athlete has pain even when he or she is not moving.

Kids may be more likely to get an overuse injury if they play just one sport and stress the same area of the body. Their risk also increases if they don’t take in enough calories and nutrients to help their bodies recover or they don’t warm up gradually and stretch properly after working out. Injuries also can occur if they don’t get enough sleep or they fear what will happen if they slow down.

Parents can follow these tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics to make sure youths have a safe and healthy sports season:

  • Take your child to the pediatrician for a sports physical before the season starts.
  • Encourage your child to try different activities.
  • Know the training requirements for a specific sport.
  • Build in breaks during the week and during the year.
  • Allow your child to participate on only one team at a time.
  • Focus on healthy sleep.
  • Set a healthy example for your child.

Find more tips for a healthy and safe sports season at,

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