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Girls at higher risk of overuse injuries

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Among young people who participate in sports, girls are more likely than boys to suffer overuse injuries.

An extensive study by researchers at Ohio State University´s Wexner Medical Center showed that the highest rate of overuse injuries occurred in girls´ track and field, followed by girls´ field hockey and girls´ lacrosse. In fourth place was boys´ swimming and diving.

Dr. Thomas Best and colleagues analysed 3,000 male and female injury cases over a seven-year period across 20 high school sports such as soccer (football), volleyball, gymnastics and lacrosse.

They found that overuse injury patterns differed by sex and by sport.

Across all sports, overuse injuries represented 7.7% of all injuries, ranging from a low of 1.4% of all boys´ ice hockey injuries to a high of 55.7% of all boys´ swimming and diving injuries. The most frequent site of injury was the lower leg, followed by the knee and then the shoulder.

Girls had greater rates of overuse injury (1.88 per 10,000 athletic exposures) than boys (1.26).

“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,” Dr. Best said.

To help prevent overuse injuries, Dr. Best recommends that teen athletes vary their movement and play more than one sport. They should also make rest and nutrition a priority, he says.

“During this point of their lives, this is when girls are developing bones at the greatest rate,” Dr. Best explained. “It´s incredibly important that they´re getting the proper amounts of calcium and vitamin D.”

Half of all overuse injuries resulted in less than one week away from sporting activity, with only 7.6% resulting in time loss of more than three weeks. However, reporting their results in the Journal of Pediatrics, the researchers said that further studies are needed to determine whether athletes are taking adequate recovery time after an overuse injury.