Monday 10 August 2015

Why So Many Athletes are Getting Hurt and How to Make it Stop

Every athlete hopes for a long, successful sporting career. However, despite the advances in training and technology, young athletes are getting injured more than ever. Last Friday ESPN released an article looking at the huge increase in injuries with NBA rookies. Here is a summary of the article with my own thoughts thrown in on how you can reduce your risk.

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Will this be you?

1. Cell phone-induced sleep deprivation 
Sleep plays a huge role in injury prevention. Sleep deprivation is worse than ever. One huge contributing factor is cell phones. Most young athletes are glued to their phones. Cell phones like other screens emit blue light which stimulates your body to be awake. Night after night of poor sleep wears your body down, builds up a sleep debt and increases your risk of injury.

Application: if you are serious about your sport, you had better be serious about your sleep. Get off screens as soon as you can in the evening and do something relaxing to unwind before bed. Also, learn to take time away from your phone each day. Place a high priority on sleep quantity and quality.

2. Lack of calcium
Today’s athletes consume way too little calcium. This is usually because they are too busy drinking sugar drinks. Also, many are vitamin D deficient which decreases their ability to absorb calcium. Also, there are many other benefits of vitamin D  benefits for athletes.

Application: make sure you are getting enough calcium. Milk is controversial topic. If you can drink it, you have an option. If can’t drink milk because of lactose intolerance or you choose not to, emphasize foods high in calcium such as: unsweetened calcium fortified almond milk, dark green leafy vegetables, beans and nuts. While you can get vitamin D from fortified foods, the main way is the sun which is why supplementation is so important for many people.

3. Too much early mileage
The misguided North American sport system focuses on early sport specialization. From a young age all kids get is their sport – year round. This prevents athletes from building a solid base of general physical preparation (i.e. fitness – strength, endurance, conditioning, etc.) and general athleticism. Without this base, athletes peak too early, get burned out and injured. Unfortunately this often well before they hit what should be their prime. 

Application: take time away from your sport each year – don’t try to play year-round. Kids should do a variety of sports and recreational activities. 

4. Lack of real strength training 
Strength lays the foundation for speed, power, agility and conditioning. At the pro level strength coaches are pressured to give athletes what they want because the players influence who gets to stay there. Unless they know better athletes of all ages prefer cone and ladder drills to heavy squats and deadlifts. These trends trickle down to the younger athletes. Today many athlete training programs get too “functional”, cute and sport-specific. This results in weak bodies who cannot withstand the beating that elite sport places on their bodies. 
Iron Therapy

Application: yes it is good to do some, movement, speed and jump work, but do not neglect some heavy, intense basic barbell and dumbbell work to strong.

How about you? What trends have you noticed that are increasing an athlete’s risk for injury? Please feel free to leave your comments and questions below or on my Facebook Page.


  1. Andrew you are spot on! Thanks for sharing these insights, if only more parents knew about these practices to help their kids. I am hopeful that the future of developmental athletics will include healthy nutritional habits (e.g. less junk food & more nutrient dense food), and age appropriate strength training programs to produce long lasting sports careers with fewer injuries!

  2. Thanks Brian, well said! We will do what we can as strength coaches to spread the word and offer solid training!