WHILE MANY, if not most, Americans fail to exercise enough, a young subgroup of the population is overdoing it. As elite sports programs for child athletes multiply, sports medicine physicians say some youngsters simply take on more than their bodies can handle. Additional problems arise because of inadequate training or safety precautions or because of unrecognized preexisting medical conditions.
Lyle J. Micheli, MD, president of the American College of Sports Medicine, has a special interest in the child athlete. "We actually have a double problem," he says. "On the one hand, there are children who don't exercise enough to be healthy. Then there is a smaller group of children who get too much exercise."
Micheli is director, Division of Sports Medicine, Children's Hospital Medical Center, Boston, Mass. He says injuries are being reported in children that were not seen in the past, occurring now mostly because of overexercising.