In Kids, Medical/Injuries

March 26, 2012

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Many overuse injuries are preventable. Janet Kowalchick explains how CrossFit Kids can help keep young athletes healthy and on the field.

If you were to take a straight pin and poke the pad of your finger lightly one or two times, it would have almost no effect. If you were to poke your finger lightly 10,000 times at a high frequency, the dermis would begin to break down, nerve endings would then be affected, and pain and bleeding would ensue. The tissue is overloaded, and there is insufficient time for recovery between bouts of loading to the same area.

This is one way to depict an overuse injury. Overuse injuries are preventable but are on the rise in young athletes.

Overuse injury is defined as repetitive microtrauma to tissues—i.e., muscle, bone, ligaments, tendons—and can go unrecognized for an extended period of time. Just like the pad of the finger in the example above, the athlete is unaware the damage is occurring until tissue failure finally occurs.

In today’s highly competitive society there is a trend to specialize youth in sport early, play year round and try to reach collegiate-scholarship potential as soon as possible instead of taking a methodical, progressive approach to training that matches the young athlete’s physical and mental maturity. There are an estimated 3 million youth-sport injuries that occur each year in middle-school and high-school athletes. It is estimated that 50 percent of overuse injuries are preventable.

And CrossFit Kids can help.



3 Comments on “Injury Prevention: The Application of CrossFit Kids”


Chris Sinagoga wrote …

Great article Janet. I train a big group of teens at a local high school along with the athletic trainer there. I feel kind of bad because recently, two of the girls have developed significant low-back pain. We are very strict on form and technique, so I'm assuming it is stemming from the overuse you talk about in the article (or possibly a pre-existing condition, ie. K Starr's Language to Diagnose).

The main problem we face (which I guess really isn't even a problem), is that the kids are completely addicted to CrossFit - to the point where it's often hard to tell if their priority is on their sport(s) or the WODs. We encourage scaled in-season training, but I think we should back off a little. Maybe 2-3 times a week instead of 3-5. But then it brings me back to the point about them being so attached to the program and the community. It's a bizarre situation, but I'm sure other trainers have the same conflict.

I definitely like the part about specializing young athletes. I agree with every word of it. Aside from physical burnout, I think the mental burnout can be even greater of just playing one sport at a young age.


wrote …

As the coach of the IWV Swim Team I hold a Crossfit Level One Certification and Crossfit Kids Certification. I can confirm that Crossfit Kids has been a huge asset to our athletes. To begin with, swimmiing up and down a pool for two hours can be boring. Incorporating Crossfit into our workouts has made our workouts MORE FUN and more balanced. It has changed the way I write workouts and approach trainng. Workouts have become more balanced, varied, and fun. The athletes who attend Crossfit Kids at Janet's gym, bring both a distinct level of confidence and strength to our swim practice. They tend to be leaders on the deck because of their ability to move well which has been nurtured by Crossfit. As a coach, it is refreshing to know that we are doing all that we can to help our young and impressionable athletes develop into healthy athletes who can move functionally and effectively for the rest of their lives! Thanks Coach Janet and Crossfit Kids.


replied to comment from Chris Sinagoga

Chris, thank you for your comments. I believe you are in a unique situation. Mainly, that the sports team coaches of your athletes allow them to attend CF more than 2-3x per week in season is interesting. We suggest 1-3x per week depending on the sport with in season practice. Just recently, we have been fortunate enough to have the high school baseball coach approach us about training his team in the pre season 2x per week and in season 1x per week. There is a significant difference in the athletes who trained with us pre season as opposed to those who just joined the team. The coach has been very pleased and we are hoping in the off season to retain much of his team and continue to develop their fitness and decrease their risk of injury. In direct reference to your comment regarding the onset of low back pain, that could be due to overuse (even "too much of a good thing") as you suspected and or overuse plus a growth spurt. The fact that the kids want to keep coming to your program is fantastic. Your guidance and education of maintaining balance with their activities will be a great life lesson that they will benefit from.

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