These days you can sign up your toddler for soccer, swimming, gymnastics, karate, dance, even rugby (yes, there are rugby classes for 3 year olds). “They coming in with major shoulder, kneeand hip problems, including pulled or torn ACLs. And it in large part due to the fact that kids are starting sports at very young ages when their bones are still developing.”
## ## According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 3.5 million kids under age 14 receive medical treatment for sports injuries each year, and the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine reports that in just the past ten years, there been a fivefold increase in the number of serious shoulder and elbow injuries among youth baseball and softball players. “Kids are starting sports too young,” says Pete McCall, an exercise physiologist and a spokesperson for the American Council on Exercise.
While some argue that it never too early to get kids active and involved in athletics, most experts believe that the focus should be on general movement and play, not learning specific sports skills. What important is that kids learn to “play smart,” as coaches say, so they not sitting in the orthopedist office at age 10. “Studies have shown that kids who take sports and exercise classes as preschoolers are no more likely to be involved in high school sports than kids who don In fact, free play (at the playground, in the backyard or basement with a ball) may be even more beneficial, she says.