Sports injuries could soar after COVID-19

Jen Rogers
·4-min read

This spring you couldn’t find a kettlebell for sale in New York City. Ten pound weights took weeks to arrive from Walmart and on Amazon they were sold out. Peloton hit 1 million connected fitness subscribers. Everyone wanted to get in shape while they sheltered in place.

For athletes, working out alone may not be a good substitute for training with your team. With some states looking to get kids back on the field, we could be seeing a surge in injuries, especially among those who play contact sports.

Christie Pearce Rampone knows about training and competing. She’s a two-time FIFA World Cup champion and three-time Olympic Gold Medalist for women’s soccer. She’s the author of the new book “Be All In: Raising Kids for Success in Sports and Life” with co-author and sports neuropsychologist Dr. Kristine Keane.

In an interview with Yahoo Finance Presents, Rampone said it’s important to concentrate on what you can control as an athlete right now and recognize it’s a process to get back in shape. “You can't just snap your fingers and then expect to be the way you were playing four months ago prior to when all this stuff shut us down.”

PISCATAWAY, NJ - JULY 08:  FC Kansas City forward Sydney Leroux (14) and Sky Blue FC defender Christie Pearce (3) during the first half of the National Womens Soccer League game between Sky Blue FC and FC Kansas City on July 08, 2017, at Yurcak Field in Piscataway, NJ.   (Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
PISCATAWAY, NJ - JULY 08: FC Kansas City forward Sydney Leroux (14) and Sky Blue FC defender Christie Pearce (3)

‘There’s going to be more injuries’

Rampone and her co-author Keane, who is an expert on concussions, are worried about injuries spiking as kids return to playing. Rampone cautions, “If you don't prepare yourself, it's going to be ugly.”

Dr. George Kaptain, a neurosurgeon in New Jersey agrees, “As kids do more organized sports, particularly football, if they haven’t done it in awhile and have been sitting home playing video games, there’s going to be more injuries.”

Recent research supports the fears that injuries could surge. Professor Keith Stokes at the University of Bath has been studying the potential impact of the coronavirus shutdown on athletes. In his paper, Returning to Play after Prolonged Training Restrictions in Professional Collision Sports he looked at the NFL’s 2011 lockout.

“Although the likely impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is unprecedented in scale, there are examples of the consequences of enforced restriction of access to training on returning to sport. For example, following a 20-week lockout in the National Football League in 2011, on returning to competition, there were more frequent soft tissue injuries,” says Stokes, not```ing that the shutdown was associated with a four-fold increase in Achilles tendon ruptures during the first 29 days of return.

SUCCASUNNA, NEW JERSEY - JULY 21: The Roxbury 10U Baseball team hosts Wayne, Kinnelon, Denville, Montville and Long Valley during the Babe Ruth/Cal Ripkin District 7 tournament. Baseball has resumed as hard hit New Jersey eases sports restrictions under Governor Phil Murphy's Executive order no. 163. July 21, 2020 in Succasunna, New Jersey. (Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images)
SUCCASUNNA, NEW JERSEY - JULY 21: Baseball has resumed as hard hit New Jersey eases sports restrictions (Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images)

‘They call it pre-season for a reason’

Rampone, whose new book focuses on insights and advice for parents and coaches of young athletes, says instead of worrying about returning to sports, try to enjoy this unprecedented time. “Just being mindful of where you are and to realize you're not going to be the same athlete... your kid's not going to be playing at the same level when they stopped. And just, you know, enjoy it, and enjoy that adjustment. And slowly get back into things.”

Keane recommends viewing this time as an opportunity versus a threat. “Try to enjoy the opportunity that you have with your families right now, because once it opens up, it's going to be, again, another transition of running around, and exhaustion, and kids — you know, the mental side of it. These kids — when they get back into it, it's going to be tough. Their confidence is gonna be altered a little bit.”

In fact, even Stokes’ research found benefits to time off from training. “A period of abstinence from sports may also offer athletes an opportunity for mental rest and recovery, especially where restrictions occur towards the end of a competitive season.”

So maybe the break hasn’t been all bad. Just take it slow, with sports coming back. As Rampone notes,“they call it pre-season for a reason.”

Jen Rogers is an anchor for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter @JenSaidIt.

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