Sport injuries in children

Dr Pieter Snyman

GP Intercare Medical & Dental Centre Wonderboom

With school sports becoming more and more competitive each day, we are seeing more serious injuries in children.

10-15 Years ago we hardly ever saw any anterior-cruciate ligament injuries in children and when we did, they were usually involved in motor vehicle- or bicycle accidents. These days, we are seeing a lot of young rugby players with ligament injuries. What would be the reason for this drastic increase of these types of injuries?

Sport is becoming more professional, which has a drastic effect on our children. For instance, rugby in schools is far more physical and competitive than some years ago. Every year more school boys are recruited during rugby weeks to join bigger schools with bursaries and promises of rugby glory.

Due to the emphasis on power and size in the South-African rugby coaching fraternity, more boys from smaller schools are joining the bigger schools in their already “big” teams. This means that the smaller schools cannot compete with the bigger schools due to obvious reasons, these boys are also encouraged to “bulk” up because of pressure from coaches and parents who want to ensure a place in the provincial teams.

Many of these boys are using sport nutrition products to get bigger and stronger and some even turn to steroids. This can be problematic and doesn’t always have a positive result. Due to reasons like genetics, morphological varieties, muscle & skeleton maturity, and red and white muscle fibers, some boys experience more damaging side-effects. Others will get bigger and stronger which leads to more serious ligament injuries.

We therefore need to improve our knowledge about nutrition, exercise programs and sports specific skills to improve the quality of our players. Schools should consider exposing primary school players to touch rugby or “Rip” rugby thereby promoting “running rugby” and at the same time improve running skills. This will lead to fewer injuries, prolonged rugby careers and improve the quality of the game.

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