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Duke Medicine: 'No pain, no gain' doesn't always apply

Posted March 25, 2013

Young athletes who take a “no pain, no gain” approach to sports may not realize how harmful that mantra can be to their growing bodies.

“It’s all about how you define pain,” says Tracy Ray, MD, a primary care physician with Duke Orthopaedics. “If you’re sore, and you’re tired, you need to push yourself through those uncomfortable feelings in order to condition your body and develop speed, strength and endurance.”

However, an athlete who experiences pain in a specific joint or body part repeatedly during an activity needs to know when to stop and rest.

Parents need to understand that too, Ray stresses. “When parents push their children to play sports despite complaints, they are doing a lot more harm than good.”

Playing through pain may put an athlete on the bench with a serious injury that takes longer to heal. It could also set them up for problems throughout their playing career and into adulthood.

“Untreated repetitive injuries can cause stress fractures or chronic tendon problems in young bodies, and it can increase the chances surgery will be needed to repair the injury. When some cartilage injuries are ignored, it’s entirely likely that arthritis will set in when they become adults,” says Ray.

How can parents help prevent repetitive use injuries? Read the full post at DukeHealth.org. Duke Medicine, Go Ask Mom's sponsor, offers health information and tips every Tuesday.

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