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Understanding Injury Precautions During Growth Spurts

Dr. Dev Mishra of Soccer America shares, “A recently published scientific study following young male soccer players at an elite Dutch soccer academy shows that the injury risk is quite high.”  “In this well-conducted study the researchers found a substantially higher injury burden in the U-16 (48%), U-15 (28%), and U-17 (21%) age groups compared to the mean. The six months following peak height velocity were identified as the riskiest time period.  Peak height velocity (PHV) is defined as the moment of the largest increase in body height, and happens during puberty. It’s been suspected that a decrease in flexibility during the growth spurt may result in increased vulnerability to injury.”

Dr. Mishra shared that even though the study was only on male soccer players, it was a reasonable assumption “that most young male and female athletes in multiple sports would experience similar risks in the six months following their peak growth spurt.”

Therefore, parents and coaches of U-15 through U-17 players should be acutely aware of the risks and take extra precautions to lower the risk of injuries.   Most acute injuries are quite impossible to avert but there is the possibility to impact reducing overuse injuries.   Here are some things to do:

  • Pay close attention to training loads and work on keeping reasonable levels
  • Be vigilant about recognzing injury and do not hesitate to remove an athlete from play.
  • Consult a qualified professional to determine a player’s readiness to return to play
  • Removing a player early from the game may substantially reduce the number of days out

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Read for important details: Teenage growth spurt: A risky time for soccer injury

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