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How kids can prevent sports injuries

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ATLANTA – Sports are a great way to keep kids physically active, but more than one-third of injuries to kids are sports-related. 

A researcher from Emory University looked at data from 1,200 young athletes over a three-year period and made the following discovery about injuries involving kids under 12 years old.

"Those that specialized were more likely, about one-and-a-half times likely, to report an injury," said Dr. Neeru Jayanthi, director of tennis medicine at Emory Sports Medicine Center. "You have to acknowledge that their risk of injury and burnout is just higher."  

The study also found that kids are playing more organized sports, twice as much as the sports they play for fun, which can lead to overuse injuries. So what can parents do? Jayanthi suggests to delay sport specialization until a child is 12 or older. 

"Encourage more seasonal participation, maybe have a three-month period where they're either taking off or resting," Jayanthi said.

Another thing is making sure young athletes are training fewer hours per week than their age. 

"So if you are like 14 years old, train less than 14 hours per week," Jayanthi said.

Proper warmups and cool-downs are critical, but the most important thing is just to have fun. 

One interesting thing from the data that the researchers found was that kids from higher socioeconomic backgrounds reported more injuries than kids from lower socioeconomic backgrounds.

The researcher suggests that kids from higher socioeconomic backgrounds had more resources to play organized sports more often, which could lead to more serious overuse injuries.