New research shows girls are more vulnerable to overuse injuries in high school sports — when they repeat one action over and over again.
A recent study in the Journal of Pediatrics looked at 3,000 male and female injury cases over a seven-year period. In total, 20 high school sports such as soccer, volleyball, gymnastics and lacrosse were included.
The study, by researchers at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, concluded that girls were at much higher risk than boys when it came to overuse injuries in high school sports. These include stress fractures, tendonitis and joint pain. These injuries occur when the same motion is repeated frequently.
Dr. Thomas Best and his team found that girls track had the highest rate of overuse injuries, followed by girls field hockey and lacrosse. For boys, overuse injuries were found most commonly in swimming and diving.
“These young people spend more time playing sports both in competition and in practice. So there’s a correlation there between the amount of time that they’re playing and the increased incidence of injuries,” said Best, who is a professor and Pomerene chair in Ohio State’s department of family medicine.
Part of this trend is due to the fact that participation and intensity of high school sports has increased in the past decade. Best notes that some high school athletes spend more than 18 hours a week participating, and many participate in multiple sports at the same time.
The lower leg is the most common area of overuse injuries, followed by the knee and then the shoulder, according to Best. He said teens who participate in sports should vary their movements and play more than one sport. Also, rest and nutrition needs to be made a priority.
“During this point of their lives, this is when girls are developing bones at the greatest rate,” said Best. “It’s incredibly important that they’re getting the proper amounts of calcium and vitamin D.”