By Bellevue Chiropractor, Dr. Bob Cummins
Bellevue – In the last ten to twenty years, the shift in focus for Bellevue youth to focus on just one sport at an early age is hard to miss.
Gone are the days of Fall cross-country, followed by winter basketball, spring track, summer swimming and intermingled with the school jump rope club and a few chances at soccer, dive team, and tennis over the early years. What leads to long term health for our children and what are their chances at becoming the next Bellevue Olympian?
This has raised many a question by parents and student athletes at Cummins Chiropractic for sure. Here’s my take on the issue:
On August 7, 2014 , Men’s Health published an article by Lou Schuler, “How soon should kids focus on only one sport?” To briefly re-cap the message, between the junior and senior year of high school. Why? Because becoming a one sport athlete at an early age increases the risk of injury and burnout.
The message wasn’t, “don’t start sports at an early age”, but that athletes that focus early, ( in this article, baseball was the example), rarely go through to the big leagues. At Cummins Chiropractic and Wellness, I work with a lot of youth rowers, and from that experience, I could not agree more with Schuler. I have seen kids as young as 13 with spinal degenerative disc disease equivalent to that of a 50 year old. When you consider that some of these injuries are irreversible and can have life-long consequences, one really has to ask the question, “Is it worth it?”.
Tissues have a finite number of loading cycles they can sustain before break down. In rowing, the two biggest variables to consider are first, intensity of load and second, the duration or number of strokes, with duration being the most significant. The more strokes you take, the more likely you are to get injured.
As the body matures, tissues become stronger, and their capacity to sustain repeated loads increases. After the body peaks in regenerative capacity in the late 20’s, the principle works the same way with aging masters athletes.
For these reasons I am a strong proponent of multi-sport youth athletes, and for the older generations, cross training to create a broad foundation for fitness and to reduce structural imbalances that result from adaption to a single sport.
Does your child only want to play one sport and you are in for the year round play regardless of the physical toll? Make the most of the situation and minimize the injuries. Take care of your spine and nervous system. How? Eat a low glycemic index, anti-inflammatory diet, exercise (easy to do for athletes!), manage emotional and mental stress, and get your spine checked on monthly basis by a chiropractor.
Anyone wishing more information or in depth analysis by Dr. Cummins regarding how sport is affecting their body may contact Dr. Cummins, whose office is located at 4122 Factoria Blvd. SE, Suite 202, Bellevue, WA by telephone 425-590-9158.
Cummins Chiropractic and Wellness provides a natural and drug free solution to help neck pain, back pain, headaches and injuries from car accidents through chiropractic, massage, decompression, cold laser, auto injury recovery, and creating wellness services for those seeking gold medal health in and around Bellevue, Seattle, Renton, Factoria, Issaquah and Newcastle.