Let’s see how overweight and overuse are linked. Obesity has reached epidemic proportions, but people often do not realize that pushing your kids to overuse injuries has also reached similar epidemic proportions. Many overweight children are randomly thrown onto sports teams or into exercise programs and the same thing happens—they get pushed too quickly and end up with an overuse injury. These poor youngsters have now become part of not only 1, but 2 epidemic groups. It takes special guidance to respond to the challenge to help overweight kids slowly begin the process of adapting to exercise. With the 2 extremes on the exercise continuum, we seem to find ourselves somewhere between fat, phat, and fanatic. Balance becomes important to take advantage of the advancing progress of skill development without overloading the process during its course.
In a perfect world, obesity and overuse injuries would not exist, but because that is not the world of kids I see, awareness and knowledge of how to avoid these problems becomes your vaccination against them. In previous years, sports and obesity were words rarely seen in the same sentence. Now with the national push to combat the overweight problem, more people are turning to exercise activities and sports for help. It is very important to understand that overweight children do pose specific challenges physically and developmentally.
If they start a new activity to become more active and are treated just like every other youngster in that activity, the result may be an overuse injury and a defeated attempt to learn healthy lifestyle patterns. The focus of exercise and fitness in overweight youth differs from adults and from other non-overweight youth, and exercise programs should reflect that difference to help prevent a negative outcome and produce a positive experience.