Special Assignment: Dangerous Sports

By: Stephanie Baker
By: Stephanie Baker

Summer sports are kicking into high gear, and more time outside means more chances to get hurt.

In a News 12 Special Assignment, Stephanie Baker tells us about mistakes children in all sports make.

We looked at the most common injuries in several popular sports and found a common theme. Using isolated muscle groups during sports like baseball can set kids up for serious sprains and tears.

We found that exercises many young athletes are skipping could prevent them from getting hurt.

Different sports...same underlying problem.

With baseball, coach Jamie Dukes says it's all that throwing.

"The most common injuries are right here in the bicep," he says. "It's mainly a conditioning type thing."

Pitch after pitch...it works the arm and shoulder too much, and neglects a lot of other muscle groups.

"He had two groin pulls, two hamstring pulls...he had a shoulder separation," says football coach Randy Hill. That's one of the more extreme injuries he's seen. The most common?

"The knee gets rotated the wrong way or they get hit in the knee."

Quick movements on the field...the feet face one way...the body goes the other. It's a perfect recipe for a torn knee.

Same for soccer, according to coach Kevin Kennedy.

"It's an all-weather sport," he says.

Soccer players have the added hazard of playing through wet and muddy conditions. A slippery field makes it harder to control your body in a fast-paced sport.

"You have someone putting their cleats into you and maybe kicking you in the ankle," Kennedy says.

In competitive cheerleading, it's the knees and ankles, according to coach Nikke Milford.

"They do fly 10 feet in the air, sometimes higher," she says. "The kids need to know what they're doing."

Brynn Regan knows first hand. She suffers from the knee injury common to most of these sports: an ACL tear. That's the ligament that keeps the knee in line with the rest of the leg.

"I still have pain when I do certain things," Regan says.

Uneven muscle mass, ankle and muscle tears...the most common injuries share a solution.

With any sport, trainers say body awareness and controlled movement are important the entire time you're working out.

"All movements come from the core," says Kyle Holloman, a trainer at a cutting-edge Atlanta fitness club. He says your strength and stability come from your midsection. The "core" is the body's powerhouse, made up of the pelvis, abdominal, and back muscles.

Your joints and limbs aren't designed to work on their own. Strengthening the core stabilizes all your movements and gives you more power.

"Everyone is so focused on getting bigger muscles that they're not really training to be better athletes," Holloman says.

Holloman showed us a few ways to get a stronger core: several exercises with the medicine ball. A twisting motion strengthens the whole area. And bench-pressing weights on a large ball is also a good exercise, because it's not as stable as a bench...so it forces you to tighten up.

How do you apply this to sports?

In baseball, keeping the body in line means the power in the pitch comes from the core, not just the arm.

It's also about following through in football...and a strong core controls the limbs. Keeping them in line means fewer tears on the field.

A strong midsection also means fewer ligament tears for soccer players. If it's weak, hips go one way, knees the other.

For cheerleading, it's about knowing where you are in the air.

Brynn Regan lost body control. That is the root of many sports injuries. A strong core means your whole body is in line and working together. That could mean less time on the bench and more in the action.

Keeping your body in line will help prevent all sorts of injuries.

Always consult a trainer before starting a new exercise program.

For information about exercises your child can do to avoid sports injuries, click here.

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