The discussion surrounding early sport specialization continues to be a hot topic in the sports medicine world. A new study from the Strength and Conditioning Journal is now examining the link between sport specialization and injury risk in female athletes. I have written on sport specialization a couple of times as new research comes out to keep up to date.
What we currently know is that adolescent boys and girls have similar movement patterns and rates of injury. As they age and go through puberty, is when differences start to occur. Females who had previously displayed appropriate movement patterns may start to have aberrant patterns that can predispose them to injury. As such, it is important to implement injury prevention and strength training programs during this time.
The actual link between sport specialization and injury has yet to be clearly established. The concern is that those athletes that are participating in a single sport to the exclusion of others and devoting dedicated practice to the improvement of that sport can be setting themselves up for injury, especially overuse. In general, females are more at risk for injury in a sport than their male counterparts. This increased risk is for multiple reasons and includes that change in movement pattern, decreased strength, decreased quadriceps to hamstring strength, hypermobility and proprioception to name a few.
This article highlights 9 recommendations to decrease risk of injury:
While the researchers continue to explore and examine the link between sport specialization, injury risk, long term development, predictors of performance and burnout, coaches, athletic directors, athletic trainers, recreation programs and parents can modify activities accordingly. Regardless of level of participation the goal for every sport and program should be to keep participants healthy. Knowing the injury risk per sport and the exercises to reduce that injury risk goes a long to not only decreasing injury, but actually improving long term performance potential.
As the research becomes available I will continue to share it with all of you. For other information on the topic, check out my other post on the subject.
Jayanthi, N. & Duga, L. (2017). The risks of sport specialization in adolescent female athletes. Strength & Conditioning Journal, 39(2): 20-26. http://journals.lww.com/nsca-scj/Fulltext/2017/04000/The_Risks_of_Sports_Specialization_in_the.4.aspx
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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.*