Overuse injuries may dog athletes during both high school and college

April 12, 2012

Topic: Orthopaedics

Women's field hockey has a high rate of overuse injuries.

Specialists in orthopaedics have cautioned young athletes for years that specialization in one sport early in life may increase the risk for overuse injuries. However, several studies have suggested that this risk may follow individuals throughout both high school and college.

Overuse injuries occur because of repetitive stress on the muscles, tendons, bones and joints, aggravated by improper sports techniques. Diagnosis may be delayed if athletes ignore or do not recognize subtle pains, according to the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine (AOSSM).

These injuries may be common among athletes aged 14 or 15 years because children tend to stop growing significantly around this age, which may make athletic coaches and medical professionals more willing to allow kids to specialize in one sport, as reported by Scripps Howard News Service.

"It used to be that teenagers were active in several sports throughout the year,'' Greg Nicholson, a sports medicine specialist, told the news source. "Competition to make the team in high school has more young athletes focusing on one sport, forcing them to use repetitive motions and often resulting in injuries."

However, one study in Iowa found that overuse injuries are still likely at the college level. The highest rates of these injuries were seen in women's field hockey, soccer, softball and volleyball. The most impactful injuries occurred in women's rowing and men's cross country and track.

More research needs to be done to figure out why college women are more prone to getting hurt, according to the news source.

Renowned orthopaedic surgeon and namesake for the Andrews Institute, James R. Andrews, M.D., began the national "STOP Sports Injuries" campaign during his tenure as president of the AOSSM to address the growing epidemic of youth sports injuries.

"I have seen my patient population and surgical cases get increasingly younger. Children, parents and coaches need to realize that kids need to take a break from playing one sport year-round," said Dr. James Andrews. "Sports should be fun for children. Overuse injuries in children is a concerning trend."

STOP Sports Injuries information, as well as other health and safety information, is available online at TheAndrewsInstitute.com.

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