Young female athletes appear to face a far greater risk for repetitive motion injuries than young males do, new research suggests.
The finding stems from an analysis that looked at overuse injuries among 3,000 male and female high school athletes participating in 20 different sports.
Researchers from Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center in Columbus report that the highest overuse injury rate was observed among girls who ran track.
This was followed by girls who played field hockey and girls who played lacrosse.
By contrast, among boys the most overuse injuries occurred among swimmers and divers. Their rate of repetitive motion injuries was pegged at only about a third of what investigators saw among female runners.
The study was published recently in the Journal of Pediatrics.
“During this point of their lives, this is when girls are developing bones at the greatest rate,” study author Dr. Thomas Best said in a center news release. He is a professor and chair at OSU’s department of sports medicine.
So “it’s incredibly important that they’re getting the proper amounts of calcium and vitamin D,” he said.
Best and his colleagues pointed out that overuse injuries make up about half of all athletic injuries. They are particularly common among children between the ages of 13 and 17.
Overuse injuries also account for about twice as many visits to sports medicine doctors than incidents of acute trauma, the authors noted.
Overall, most overuse injuries involved the lower leg, the study team noted. This was followed by knee and shoulder injuries.
To limit risk, the researchers advised that all high school athletes play more than just a single sport and make a conscious effort to change up their movements. Parents, they added, should encourage their children to get the rest and foods they need to stay healthy.