Like concussions, shoulder injuries are the bane of many high school athletes.

A study published January in Pediatrics calculated that US high school athletes sustained 820,691 shoulder injuries from 2005 to 2012, spanning seven academic years.

Looking at injury reports from a ‘nationally representative’ sample of 100 high schools, researchers at the Ohio-based Center for Injury Research and Policy found that students during this period suffered 2,798 injuries out of 13 million ‘athlete exposures.’ For every 10,000 exposures, students succumbed to two shoulder injuries.

One exposure is equivalent to one athlete playing in a game or practice.

With an injury rate of 4.86 percent, boys’ football emerged as the most injurious of the nine sports studied. Girls’ soccer was rated least injurious at 0.42 percent.

Surgical treatment was prescribed for almost 8 percent of injuries. Although 40.7 percent of injured athletes would return to play within seven days, 8.2 percent were deemed unfit for the rest of the season or their high school careers.

Overall, games caused thrice more injuries than practices.

Why High School Injuries Happen

Whether in the shoulder or elsewhere, most injuries among young athletes can be lumped into overuse. Acute injuries are caused by sudden trauma—a lone fall, collision or twist. Overuse injuries, on the other hand, happen slowly over time, as the sport places muscles, ligaments, tendons, growth plates, and bones under repetitive pressure, without sufficient time for recovery. Other injuries are downright catastrophic, mostly involving damage to the head, neck, and spinal cord.

Overuse can be chalked up to the fact that many young sportspersons focus on one sport and train year long for it. Too often, parents are enablers of this phenomenon, taking their children’s sports too earnestly, if not businesslike, instead of considering them as the playful activities that they really are. Many parents are known to get emotional, placing an onus on children to win. This is frequently the case when an athletic scholarship for college is at stake.

Prevent Shoulder Injuries in High School

Parents have a crucial role to play in preventing shoulder injuries befall their wards. For parents, they should not let the children concentrate on one kind of sport, and prevent them from playing it for the whole year. Variation is crucial toward preventing injuries as well as developing new skills. Likewise, setting a limit on how many teams the child can play for in a season. At the very least, students aged under 10 should not be allowed to play competitive sports like football, which involves tackles.

Mentors and coaches are also responsible. They should emphasize general fitness over competition. They must coordinate closely with physicians, who must be on hand during matches and practices.

Sport officiators must see to it that game rules are made suitable for minors. This may mean downsizing playing fields and times. For the same reason, opposing teams should be evenly matched in terms of skill, age, height, weight, and other factors.

If resistance training is requisite, an individual should never be allowed to lift weights disproportional to their ability. For weight to be deemed safe, it should be one that can be done ten times in proper form.

Student athletes must insist on limiting weekly increase of repetitions, distance, and time in a sport activity to 10 percent. Sudden increases only lead to injuries.

Before the season formally begins, athletes must submit themselves to medical examinations. Undertake a conditioning program, as supervised by a professional coach who can help them gradually work up to an ideal fitness level. Also ideal is learning from a sports medicine professional for proper techniques to minimise the likelihood of injuries. Make certain that safety gear and other equipment fit well and can be worn securely.

With a concerted effort, athletes and stakeholders can weed out shoulder issues from sports. Now, that would be a game-changer.