July 2016

Specialization, participation volume contribute to youth athlete injury risk

In the moment: Sports medicine

By Jordana Bieze Foster

Sport specialization and high volumes of sports participation are significantly associated with the risk of injuries—and overuse injuries in particular—in youth athletes, according to research from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Investigators surveyed 2011 youth athletes (mean age, 13.7 years; 989 girls) about their sports participation patterns and injury history. More than one third (37.5%) of the athletes were highly specialized (they had played one sport for more than eight months of the year, considered their primary sport most important, and had quit other sports to focus on a primary sport). Girls were more likely to be highly specialized than boys (41% vs 34%).

Highly specialized youth athletes were 1.59 times more likely to report any injury and 1.45 times more likely to report an overuse injury than their less-specialized counterparts. Athletes who played one sport for more than eight months of the year were 1.85 times more likely to report any injury and 1.6 times more likely to report an overuse injury.

The findings were presented in June at the NATA annual meeting in Baltimore, MD.

Source:

Post EG, Riekena JW, Trigsted SM, et al. The association of sport specialization and training volume with previous overuse injury in youth athletes participating in youth sports tournaments. J Athl Train 2016;51(6 Suppl): S145.

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