Injuries in young athletes

Eur J Pediatr. 2000 Jan-Feb;159(1-2):59-63. doi: 10.1007/s004310050011.


Most injuries in children's sports are minor and self-limiting, suggesting that children and youth sports are safe. A child's skeletal system shows pronounced adaptive changes to intensive sports training. Sports injuries affect both growing bone and soft tissues and could result in damage of the growth mechanisms with subsequent life-lasting damage. During growth there are significant changes in the biomechanical properties of bone. In young athletes, as bone stiffness increases and resistance to impact diminishes, sudden overload may cause bones to bow or buckle. Epiphyseal injuries are usually due to shearing and avulsion forces, although compression also plays a significant role. Given the remarkable healing potential of bone in youngsters, fractures that initially united with some deformity can completely remodel and appear totally normal in later life.

Conclusion: As the risk of injuries sustained by young athletes can be significant, it is essential that training programmes take into account their physical and psychological immaturity, so that growing athletes can adjust to their own body changes.

MeSH terms

  • Athletic Injuries* / epidemiology
  • Athletic Injuries* / physiopathology
  • Back Pain / etiology
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Child
  • Cumulative Trauma Disorders / etiology
  • Elbow Injuries*
  • Hip Injuries
  • Humans
  • Joint Dislocations / etiology
  • Knee Injuries / physiopathology
  • Osteochondritis Dissecans / etiology
  • Spinal Injuries / etiology
  • United Kingdom / epidemiology