Pain shouldn’t be part of the game, but 3.5 million kids sustain sports injuries every year. Overuse or repetitive stress injuries occur when children use the same muscles or movements over and over without a seasonal break. Injuries of this type are responsible for nearly half of all sports mishaps in kids -- and any injury increases risk for surgeries and arthritis later in life. “The biggest issue is that kids are playing a single sport year-round,” says William Levine, M.D., director of sports medicine at New York-Presbyterian Columbia University Hospital in New York City. “Kids need at least one season off from a sport to let their bodies rest and heal.” If you children want to stay active, encourage them to try a different sport in the off-season. And before your child suits up this year, follow these other tips for an injury-free season.