There was a recent article in the Journal of Pediatrics that looked at the rates of overuse injuries in high school athletes. The results will not come as much of a surprise to those working with high school athletes: girls had higher rates of overuse injuries than boys and the most commonly injured sites were the lower leg, knee and shoulder. The sport played largely determined the injury site, swimming and baseball for shoulders, gymnastics for backs, track and field for lower leg. The really interesting finding was that rates of injuries changed during high school with boys having more overuse injuries as they got older and girls have fewer overuse injuries as they got older. The authors are not sure why that is occurring, but it is probably related to growth, intensity, competition and neuromuscular control.
Since girls and boys have differences in neuromuscular control when they mature, it makes sense that the younger girls would be at increased risk of injury during that time until they got stronger and had improved mechanics. Why the boys got injured more as they got older is an interesting finding to keep track of in the future.
I think that these studies are interesting in that they confirm what we suspect, but it also gives us an opportunity to utilize the findings to create better programs aimed at decreasing injury risk. If you work with young athletes then understanding these results can help you be a better coach. If your team is younger females then spend more time on neuromuscular training, strength training and controlling the volume in practice. If your team is older boys then continue to strength train, but control the volume and intensity in practice.
Participation in athletics carries an implicit risk of injury that cannot be fully mitigated, but it can be better understood. Knowing your athletes, your sport and the common injuries can help to create better programs. If you are not sure the best way to structure a conditioning or training program talk with your school’s athletic trainer (if you have one) or a certified fitness professional.
You can find the study here: http://www.jpeds.com/article/S0022-3476(14)00888-9/pdf
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*This site is for educational purposes only, it is not meant to diagnose, treat or replace medical advice. Before starting an exercise program always make sure that you are healthy and able to do so safely.*