A recent study suggests young female athletes are at a much greater risk for developing overuse injuries than their male counterparts. It especially applies to playing high school sports. Among the 3,000 male and female athletes representing 20 different sports, girls developed repetitive motions injuries about two-thirds more than boys.
Why Young Female Athletes Injured More: Overuse Injuries
A new study published in the Journal of Pediatrics has suggested that young female athletes face a higher incidence of repetitive motion injuries than young male athletes. The study was conducted by researchers from the Ohio State University (OSU) Wexner Medical Center with findings analyzed from over 3,000 male and female participants engaged in 20 different high school athletic sports.
Lead researcher of the study Dr. Thomas Best, professor and chair of the department of sports medicine at OSU theorized there was a correlation between the amount of playing time and the increased injury incidences. Dr. Best and his colleagues analyzed the data from the teen athletes over seven years. They measured the number of injuries per 10,000 athletic exposures (AEs). They were defined as either practice or competitive events.
The researchers found the highest injury rate occurred in girls running track at 3.82 injuries per 10,000 AEs. Closely following the track and field girls were female field hockey (2.93) and female lacrosse (2.73). Comparing these injury rates to boys, whose highest overuse injuries occurred in swimming and diving (1.30). The researchers concluded female athletes were at a much higher risk of developing overuse injuries.
Why Young Female Athletes Injured More: Most Common Injuries
The findings concluded that both male and female athletes are at risk for overuse injuries. They occur as a result of performing repetitive motions without adequate rest and rehabilitation. The research also found that about half of all athletic injuries were overuse injuries.
The most common overuse injuries seen in the young athletes included stress fractures, tendonitis, and joint pain. These overuse injuries tended to affect the lower leg the most with the knee and the shoulder coming in right behind in frequency of injury.
Best’s research found that the most affected age group was between the ages of 13 and 17. Typically the high school aged sports groups. These injuries accounted for twice as many visits to sports medicine doctors than other minor traumas associated with sports play.
Why Young Female Athletes Injured More: Lower the Risk
The researchers suggested female athletes pay particular attention to their bodies at this intersection of their sports careers and their lives. Bones develop at their greatest rate during the teenage years for girls. And especially for girls in high-impact sports, it is an absolute necessity to provide their bodies with proper nutrition.
Best and his colleagues believe it is of critical importance to ensure female athletes are consuming proper amounts of bone-fortifying vitamins and minerals. These vitamins and minerals include calcium and vitamin D. In addition, girls in sports may want to consult a nutritionist for guidance in dietary consumption.
They also advise the high school athletes to diversifying their sports training. Instead of playing one sport, researchers encourage teenagers to vary up their movements both in practice and in competitive platforms. Parents should also play a vital role in ensuring their athlete stays healthy and gets plenty of rest. Young female athletes can still achieve their athletic goals on the field, court, or track. Though they must ensure to respect their bodies, keeping them as physically fit and healthy as possible to continue pushing as hard as they can.