Another factor, I only alluded to in the first section, is the increased level of intense training, in addition to the amount of time this type of training takes, that young athletes are putting in, in order to improve their abilities, has to be a consideration.
Athletes are bigger, stronger, quicker, and faster (even the average athlete) than they ever were. This all amounts to more stress on body parts and thus, more risk of injury. This, in addition to the body not getting enough rest and/or time to recuperate, and, possibly, not enough consideration to well-balanced "functional" type training, would certainly seem to lend itself to increased risk of injury.
There are probably several other possibilities that I have not covered which may also be contributing factors in this issue. However, my purpose in this four-part series is not to just list them all, but rather to give some food for thought as to why youth sport injuries are increasing, point you in the direction of some good articles that help support this (something I will do at the end), and give some alternative possibilities that may help in decreasing this risk.
Now the body is an amazing piece of machinery; able to heal, get stronger, and better if trained, fed, and treated properly (sleep, rest, etc.). That is why I strongly encourage any athlete to spend a good deal of time on proprioceptive (unconscious joint & limb awareness) training and preventive-type conditioning.
The purpose of these types of exercises is to balance strength levels on all sides of a joint and help the body develop a more keen sense of internal subconscious awareness regarding limb and joint movement. This, coupled with well-balanced functional sports-specific-type training, flexibility work, proper rest and diet, can help to decrease the risk of sustaining athletic injuries.
At least that is what any level of logic would tell us. So, with some effort, thought, and research on your part, or the coach's/trainer's part, an athlete can increase strength and flexibility, and prevent injury all at the same time. It is worth the effort.
Below are several articles that detail what their authors believe to be underlying causes behind the increase of youth sport injuries. They not only give solid reasoning behind the "why" this is occurring, but also indicate that the severity of injuries has gone up, supporting much of what I have discussed so far.
These articles include:
The growing pains of childhood sports injuries by staff writer Erin Allday of the San Francisco Chronicle.
Youth sports injuries on the rise at ConsumerReports.org
Youth Sports Injuries by American Academy (Association) of Orthopedic Surgeons
Increase in adult-type injuries among children and adolescents by Dr. Dieter Lindskog pediatric orthopedist at Yale-New Haven Hospital and assistant professor of orthopedics at the Yale University School of Medicine.
All of these articles, in some manner, support the idea of a current trend in increased youth sports injuries, and that it really is a concern needing to be addressed. Some even suggest possible avenues for prevention. I recommend their reading and hope they shed more light on a very important topic involving youth and their sports participation.
Stay tuned to Part III and IV of Brett Favre Not the Only One; The Rise in Youth Sports Injuries - What to do? where I will attempt to expand on the issue of injury prevention and supply references to articles that will help give more specific information on decreasing the risk of injury to young athletes.