Youth injures are a common concern for coaches, players, and parents. Nearly 30 million kids participate in youth sports each year, and with that comes a list of injuries. As youth sports gain increased attention for increased injuries, parents and coaches need to step back and consider a solution to keep kids safe on the green, in the pool, and on the field. Preventing sports injuries extends far beyond the game or competition. Preventing sports injuries requires preventative care, proper training, and increased safety awareness across the board. Recent research suggests Integrative Neuromuscular Training is effective in preventing common youth sports injuries.
Injury Stats for American Youth Sports
The CDC reports nearly 7 million youth athletes suffer from a sports-related injury each year. Of the 7 million athletes, 3.5 million are kids under the age of 14. Injuries affect players from 5 years of age all the way up to 24 years of age. The top sports with the highest number of injuries are: football, basketball, soccer, and baseball. The number of baseball elbow injuries has spike exponentially. The most common baseball injuries for baseball players are shoulder and elbow injuries.
What Causes Youth Sports Injuries?
Kids who play sports regularly don’t necessarily obtain the skills and fitness training necessary to condition them properly to prevent and reduce injuries. Kids are entering sports when they are younger and younger – age 6 on average. Children are entering sports competitions and practices without the proper training for their bodies to meet the physical demands of youth sports. The lack of preparation and exposure leads to injury. Common youth sports injury causes are:
- Previous injury
- Improper gear
- Excessive training and overuse
- Nutritional and training deficiencies
- Improper footwear
- Muscle imbalances
- Lack of conditioning, or no training at all (Faigenbaum et al)
Preventing sports injuries involves a number of strategies:
- Use the right equipment and ensure it is not defective or broken
- Wear appropriate gear and protection
- Encourage hydration and weather-smart training
- Practice and train before the game or competition
More than half of youth sports injuries are caused by overuse. More than half of injuries are preventable. This is where Integrative Neuromuscular Training comes into play. Integrative Neuromuscular Training provides kids with the tools and training to perform at their peak and to avoid injuries.
What is Integrative Neuromuscular Training?
What is Integrative Neuromuscular Training? Integrative Neuromuscular Training, or INT, is a method of training that has been proven to improve physical fitness and eliminate poor biomechanics. Integrative Neuromuscular Training involves various activities that target physical, neurocognitive, and visual-motor abilities (Myer). A comprehensive and effective Integrative Neuromuscular Training regimen consists of the following activities:
- Resistance/ strength training
Exercising your muscles by using opposing force, such as free weights and bands, is called resistance training. When you pick up a heavy object, resistance is what you work against to lift the item. Muscle resistance improves tone, mass and endurance, and it prevents injuries.
- Dynamic stability exercises
Dynamic stability exercises are ones that target the trunk—abs and back muscles—to improve posture.
- Core training
Core training is a series of exercises that work the transverse abdominis, erector spinae, lower lats, and the obliques.
- Agility exercises
Agility drills and exercises help the athlete move quickly and change direction easier.
Benefits of Integrative Neuromuscular Training
Youth athletes who participate in strength training programs with a qualified professional may benefit in many ways:
- Enhanced muscle health and strength
- Increased blood flow and cardiovascular health
- Greater bone density
- Enhanced power and flexibility
- Improved range of motion
- Developed body composition and body mechanics
- Improved mental health
- Improved stamina
- Amplified focus and awareness
Working with a qualified health and fitness professional ensures a young athlete receives age-appropriate training, targeted training, visual examples, accurate instruction, and constructive feedback.
All of these benefits lead to one important issue we have been discussing: preventing youth sports injuries. The benefits of Integrative Neuromuscular Training may improve injury resistance and ignite a renewed passion for the sport and fitness overall.