One sport vs. many sports

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One sport vs. many sports

These days it is really common for kids in grammar school to choose a sport to specialize in. And it's not just their parents choosing for them; the kids actually are self identifying and saying, "I love this sport and I want to do it." And it's increasingly common, because by the time they get to junior high or high school they've been specialized for so many years that a new kid cannot join a team. You know, if you haven't played baseball until you're 12 years old, you're not going to be able to join the school team, because the other kids are at such a high level. But the problem with this is that we find that there is a lot of overuse injury for kids. These kids are using the same joints and the same muscle groups over and over and over again, whereas when I was a kid and people changed sports with each season, we were using different muscle groups and different joints. If you only do one sport, the wear and tear is actually quite tremendous. So the sports doctors for kids have said the spike in surgeries - not just injuries, surgeries - for children is unbelievable. Their shoulders need to be repaired, their knees need to be repaired. Depending upon the sport and the intensity of the sport, you have kids who are really getting into adult-type problems, because they're practicing too much and they're playing too many games. So the best advice that I've heard is that a child who chooses to specialize in sport should really take three months off per year. What this means is nine months of intensive practice and play is fine, but three months should be an alternate sport. You still want to stay conditioned, you still want to stay healthy, but you want to use other joints and muscles, so that you don't have too much wear and tear on the same ones over and over and over again. And that's what I'll do with my kids.

See Cara Natterson, MD's video on One sport vs. many sports...


Expert Bio

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Cara Natterson, MD

Pediatrician & Author

Cara Natterson, MD has treated thousands of children and guided their parents as well. She was a partner at Tenth Street Pediatrics in Santa Monica, California, a large group practice serving infants, children and teenagers. She now runs Worry Proof Consulting, the first of its kind pediatric practice that offers parents open-ended time to review everything from medical questions and biology basics to child development and parenting issues. Cara is also the author of several books on parenting and child health. She has a unique ability to translate cutting edge research into understandable terms for parents and their kids. More recently, Cara’s consulting has extended beyond individual families to include fortune 500 companies seeking expert advice on safety issues, child health, and crisis management.

Cara has appeared on television, in print, and on the web. She is a graduate of Harvard College and Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, and she trained in pediatrics at the University of California at San Francisco. Cara is a Board certified pediatrician and a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics. And anyone who knows her knows that Cara is, by nature, one of the most risk-averse people on earth. She lives in California with her husband and two children.

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