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Good Sports: Preventing and Treating Injuries in Young Athletes

as seen in Back to School, August 2020
Hearst Connecticut Media Group

Dr. Edmund Ganal examines a patient.Above, Dr. Edmund Ganal, a Ridgefield resident and sports medicine specialist with OrthoConnecticut, with locations throughout Fairfield and Litchfield counties, examines a young athlete’s knee. Sports are a big part of many students’ lives: Alessandro Sulpizi (at left), for example, is an avid athlete and former member of the New Canaan High School varsity boys tennis team under Coach Ben Young; he graduated from New Canaan High School in 2019 and currently attends Northeastern University.

Whether or not students return to school this fall, odds are many of them will be participating in some type of athletic activity, whether that includes training for a sport, going for a run in their neighborhood, kicking the soccer ball around with their family at home, or preparing for a spring league. When kids are involved in sports — no matter what the scenario — athletic-related injuries are always a possibility.

As student sports enthusiasts increasingly become year-round athletes, playing either one sport all year long or multiple sports, experts are reporting that the number of sports injuries is on the rise. According to the Centers for Disease Control, nearly half are preventable.

While acute injuries can happen anytime — a hard tackle or a misstep leading to a torn ACL or a dislocated knee — more commonly, it’s overuse and repetitive strain that cause most sports injuries.

“Unfortunately, most kids, mine included, play sports all year round. Overspecialization, I think, is a problem when kids do one specific sport 12 months a year. They develop certain habits that stress only certain parts of the body and when those get overworked too much, they start developing chronic problems like tendon degeneration and a lot of overuse injuries,” explains Ridgefield resident Dr. Edmund Ganal, a sports medicine specialist with OrthoConnecticut, with locations throughout Fairfield and Litchfield counties. Experts differ on whether it’s better to play one sport or a variety. Some say playing one sport reduces the number of athletic injuries and the type of injuries to those specific to that particular sport while others say playing different sports can be beneficial as a form of cross-training and to not repeatedly tax the same set of muscles the same way again.

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