LUTZ, Fla. - A record number of children between the ages 5 and 14, are suffering sports injuries. Forty percent of kid's emergency room visits now sports-related.
No single sport is to blame. However, doctors believe part of the problem is more young children are playing intense organized sports, including those who focus on one select sport the whole year through.
When kids play just a single sport their bodies can be affected in a symptom called "overuse." The extreme use of one set of muscles can damage developing bodies.
Kids, parents and coaches can get caught up in the chase for college scholarships and professional fame. The quest can drive young bodies and minds to a literal breaking point.
It is especially dangerous in the Tampa Bay area, where the good weather all year round allows for sports -- like baseball -- to be played from January to December.
Doctors and sports experts recommend a two-to-four month break every year from organized sports. Kids should use the break to focus on unstructured, stress-free play.
"Down here in Florida there are a number of outdoor sports you can play 12 months a year," said Mark Sakalosky of the Positive Coaching Alliance. "It's a wonderful opportunity to get out and play, but it also puts kids at greater risk."
Doctors at the Florida Orthopedic Institute recommend more than just physical, emotional and mental rest, They also stress stretching before and after sporting practice and events to help young muscles heal. Proper hydration before, during and after physical contests is also very important.