Preventing Repetitive Stress Injuries In Youth Athletes

Preventing Repetitive Strain Injury (PSIY) in Youth Athletes

Repetitive strain injury (RSI) in youth athletes is one of the most common sports injuries. According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, there are over 40 million Americans ages 5–24 years old with some type of RSI. Of these, 10% have experienced a severe or disabling RSI at least once during their lives.

The majority of these cases occur in children playing contact sports such as soccer, basketball, football, baseball and wrestling. However, they can happen to any child participating in other activities involving repetitive movement. For example: gymnastics classes, dance classes or even riding a bike. Children may experience RSI when landing after jumping from high places or while running up stairs. They may also develop it if they repeatedly do the same activity over and over again without rest days between exercises.

In general, RSI occurs because of the repeated stresses placed on joints by repetitive motions. These stresses include overuse, poor technique and lack of proper training. The most common types of repetitive motion involve jumping, running up and down stairs, lifting weights or performing other physical activities that require a lot of strength. In addition to these activities, children may also suffer from them due to being bored or distracted. All these factors increase the risk for developing RSI in youth athletes.

Common RSI injuries in children include:

The most common injuries in youth athletes are sprains and strains. These happen when a muscle or tendon is stretched or torn. When they overstretch or tear they cause immediate pain. Torn muscles often cause a complete loss of movement at the joint where it is located and also severe pain. Torn tendons, on the other hand, often do not cause as much pain because they do not have nerve endings in them.

However, if not treated correctly, they can lead to permanent damage and loss of movement.

Tendons are rope-like tissues that connect muscles to bones. They enable us to move our joints. Muscles move our bones by pulling on the tendons. When a tendon is overstretched or torn, it causes severe pain in the area where it is located. The pain is often described as a sharp, burning sensation.

Preventing Repetitive Stress Injuries In Youth Athletes - Picture

Sprains and Strains

When the injury is first occurring, the feeling is usually one of an instant sharp pain. Sometimes there may be some immediate bruising or bleeding in or around the affected area. After the injury has occurred, the injured area swells and often turns colors ranging from black and blue to green, yellow or purple. The amount of swelling and change in color depends on how bad the injury is.

Sprains and strains are the most common types of repetitive strain injuries in sports and require immediate first aid. They can be caused by overstretching or tearing a muscle or tendon.


The best way to prevent repetitive strain injuries is to play your sport properly and to warm up before beginning your routine. For certain sports, it may also be necessary to have your coach or trainer show you how to do the activity properly and how to prevent injury while doing it. It is important to rest after any sport if you are experiencing pain or soreness in any of your muscles or joints. Otherwise, the pain or soreness may become worse or a repetitive strain injury may develop.

Warming up before activity is very important in preventing injuries. Warming up before activity increases blood flow to your muscles and gets them ready for physical activity. It also gradually extends and stretches the muscles and tendons, making them less susceptible to injury during strenuous activity. Warming up should consist of five to ten minutes of light jogging, marching in place or some other simple low-impact aerobic exercise. This gets the blood flowing and your muscles warm and ready for activity.

Always listen to your body when you are doing physical activity. If you feel pain or soreness in any joints or muscles, it is important to stop and rest. Continuing to work through the pain can lead to further injury that can keep you from participating in your sport.

Common injuries and Symptoms Sprains and strains Muscle pain


Loss of movement Stretching Do not stretch cold muscles. They are vulnerable to injury at this time. Always warm up first.

Preventing Repetitive Stress Injuries In Youth Athletes - gym fit workout

If you have a pre-existing injury or medical condition, consult your physician before participating in strenuous physical activity. Call your physician immediately if you experience any of the following: Severe pain



Difficulty using an arm or leg


Bruising A Closer Look It is important to warm up before any strenuous physical activity. Stretching your muscles and tendons makes them more pliable and less susceptible to injury during vigorous activity.

Sprains and Strains

Most sprains and strains are caused by landing awkwardly from a jump (such as jumping off a diving board or high dive) or by falling and twisting an ankle, knee, shoulder or hip. For the ankle, knee, shoulder and hip, the injury occurs most often when landing on the edge or on the side of the foot, ankle, leg, knee or hip.

Preventing Repetitive Stress Injuries In Youth Athletes - GYM FIT WORKOUT

The best treatment for a sprain or strain is RICE therapy: rest, ice, compression and elevation. If the pain is severe, an over-the counter anti-inflammatory medication can be taken. For minor sprains and strains, it is important to keep the injured area elevated above the level of the heart as much as possible and to apply ice to the area for ten minutes at a time, several times a day. Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication can also be taken to reduce the swelling.

Sprains and strains should begin to feel better within a week, but it can take several weeks for the pain to completely subside. If your condition does not improve within a week or if you have severe pain, numbness or tingling or if you experience a lot of swelling, you should seek medical attention.

Sprains and strains are very common sports injuries. They occur when your muscles, tendons and ligaments get stretched or torn because your body is put under too much strain at one time or because you try to force a movement that the muscles, tendons and ligaments aren’t ready for.

It is important to stretch before and after any physical activity. Always move slowly into a stretch and stop if you feel any pain. Hold the stretch for at least 30 seconds, if not one minute and do not bounce. Also, remember that warming up should consist of five to ten minutes of light aerobic activity.


Most cuts happen because you weren’t paying attention to what you were doing or your mind was on other things. Always pay attention to what you are doing and keep your mind in the here and now.

Common injuries and Symptoms Cuts Bleeding from the wound Adhesive bandages First-aid ointment Sterile strips or butterfly bandages Antibiotic ointment

If the cut is small, cleaning and bandaging it yourself is usually all that is required.

Thoroughly wash your hands before and after treating the cut.

Preventing Repetitive Stress Injuries In Youth Athletes - Picture

Apply ointment or cream followed by a bandage to protect the wound and keep out infection.

If you don’t have bandages, strips or butterfly bandages, you can use adhesive tape. Lay it directly over the cut. It won’t stick if you are not clean, so make sure your hands are clean before trying to put the tape in place.

Apply first-aid cream to the cut. Bandage it by placing a strip of tape crosswise over the cut. Then place strips of tape parallel (in the same direction as) over the first strip, spacing them far enough apart so that you can change the dressing without removing all the tape.

When changing the dressing, remove the outermost strips of tape first. This will keep the center strip in place and from pulling off the wound with the bandages.

If the wound continues to seep blood or pus, or if the edges of the wound seem to be moving (deteriorating), seek medical attention.

Gather together the tools you will need: Antiseptic solution such as dilute chlorine bleach, water, sterile strips or butterfly bandages, adhesive tape, and first-aid cream. If you don’t have any of these things, improvise. For example, you might use the cleanest liquid you have, such as bottled water, and strips torn from your clothing.

If you have a cut on your foot or leg, it is best to sit down. Holding the foot up for a long time can tire out even the strongest person.

Clean the wound with the antiseptic solution. Let it soak in for at least one minute and try not to touch it.

Drain any pus from the wound by gently probing it with a sterile needle. If you see bits of gravel or other materials in the wound, take them out with clean tweezers.

If possible, wash and scrub your hands before treating the wound so that you don’t contaminate it further.

Spray wound with a liquid bandage and cover it with a sterile strip or a butterfly bandage.

Sources & references used in this article:

Overuse Physeal injuries in youth athletes: risk factors, prevention, and treatment strategies by A Arnold, CA Thigpen, PF Beattie… – Sports …, 2017 –

Resistance training among young athletes: safety, efficacy and injury prevention effects by AD Faigenbaum, GD Myer – British journal of sports medicine, 2010 –

National Athletic Trainers’ Association position statement: prevention of pediatric overuse injuries by TC Valovich McLeod, LC Decoster… – Journal of athletic …, 2011 –

Monitoring stress and recovery: new insights for the prevention of injuries and illnesses in elite youth soccer players by MS Brink, C Visscher, S Arends, J Zwerver… – British journal of sports …, 2010 –

Prevention of sports injuries in children by JM Flynn, JE Lou, TJ Ganley – Current opinion in pediatrics, 2002 –

Prevention of overuse sports injuries in the young athlete by MV Paterno, JA Taylor-Haas, GD Myer… – The Orthopedic clinics …, 2013 –

Pediatric wheelchair athletics: sports injuries and prevention by PE Wilson, RL Washington – Spinal Cord, 1993 –