Sports specialization may lead to more lower extremity injuries

July 23, 2017, American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine

Better education to coaches and parents about the effects of single sport specialization is critical, say researchers presenting their work today at the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine's Annual Meeting in Toronto, Canada.

"Our study is the first one to prospectively document the association between sports and lower extremity injuries in a large, diverse, group of high athletes," said lead researcher, Timothy A. McGuine, PhD, ATC from the University of Wisconsin.

McGuine and his colleagues enrolled 1,544 individuals into the study during the 2015-2016 school year with 50% being female and an average age of 16 years. Participants completed a questionnaire which identified their sports participation, history of and level of specialization (low, moderate, high) based on a 3-item scale previously published. They were asked to report all interscholastic and club sports participation during the previous 12 months and any activity that they planned to participate in during the upcoming school year. The questionnaires were also reviewed by an athletic trainer before being placed into the study.

The participants competed in 167,349 athletic exposures. A total of 490 (31.7%) reported sustaining a previous loss of practice/playing time due to a lower extremity injury (LEI) while 759 (49.2%) participated in their primary sport in a league outside of their high school. During the study time-period, 15% or 235 individuals sustained 276 lower extremity injuries causing them to miss an average of seven days of participation. Injuries occurred most often in the ankle (34%), knee (25%) and upper leg (13%) and included ligament sprains (41%), muscle/tendon strains (25%) and tendonitis/tenosynovitis (20%). Soccer was the sport with the highest percentage of athletes being highly specialized with 265 subjects reporting that they had competed in more than 60 competitions within the last year in their primary sport. Players whose primary sports were basketball, football and soccer sustained more lower extremity injuries than their peers who were in baseball, tennis, track, volleyball or wrestling.

"Our results demonstrated that athletes who classified themselves as moderately specialized had a 50% higher incidence of LEI and athletes who had a high specialization classification had an 85% higher incidence of LEI," said McGuine. "Sport specialization appears to be an for injury, as opposed to simply being a function of increased sport exposure. Athletic associations, school administrators, coaches and providers need to better educate parents and their athletes on the increased chances of injury risk and provide more opportunities for diversified athletic play."

Explore further: Overuse injuries more common in kids who specialize in individual sport

Related Stories

Overuse injuries more common in kids who specialize in individual sport

April 13, 2017
Young athletes who specialize in an individual sport – such as gymnastics, tennis and dance – were at higher risk for overuse injuries (i.e. gradual onset of pain and symptoms), compared to those who focus on a single ...

Nearly half of today's high school athletes specialize in one sport

March 14, 2017
Youth single sport specialization—training and playing just one sport, often year round and on multiple teams—is a growing phenomenon in the U.S. A new study presented today at the 2017 Annual Meeting of the American ...

Highly specialized high school athletes more likely to have certain injuries, study says

March 17, 2016
There is a sense among those who pay attention to youth and high school athletics that more and more young athletes today are focusing on excelling at a single sport instead of playing a variety.

Study looks at the prevalence, challenges of athletes with ADHD

May 11, 2017
A new study from The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center finds athletes with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are more likely to compete in team contact sports than individual sports, which could increase ...

Surgeries before college athletics may result in more injuries during college play

July 12, 2015
Athletes who've had lower extremity surgeries before going on to play in college, might be at a higher risk for another surgery independent of gender and sport, say researchers presenting their work today at the American ...

Female soccer players suffer the most concussions in high school sports

March 14, 2017
High school girls have a significantly higher concussion rate than boys, with female soccer players suffering the most concussions, according to new research presented today at the 2017 Annual Meeting of the American Academy ...

Recommended for you

Surprise finding—for very sick elderly, lighter sedation won't drop risk of postoperative delirium, study suggests

August 13, 2018
Johns Hopkins Medicine researchers say a study designed to see if reducing the amount of anesthesia reduces the risk of postoperative delirium in older patients surprisingly found that lighter sedation failed to do so in ...

Kidney transplant chains more effective in saving lives

August 9, 2018
New research from the UBC Sauder School of the Business has found that transplant societies which prioritize kidney transplant chains over kidney exchanges can increase the total number of transplants, thereby saving more ...

Surgical mesh implants may cause autoimmune disorders

July 31, 2018
Surgical mesh implants, often used for hernia or gynecological repair, may be the reason so many patients report symptoms of an autoimmune disorder, according to a University of Alberta rheumatologist.

Surgeons discuss options when the risks of surgery may be too high

July 27, 2018
In an essay published July 26 in the New England Journal of Medicine, Ira Leeds, M.D., research fellow, and David Efron, M.D., professor of surgery, both of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, along with their ...

Blood plasma during emergency air transport saves lives

July 25, 2018
Two units of plasma given in a medical helicopter on the way to the hospital could increase the odds of survival by 10 percent for traumatically injured patients with severe bleeding, according to the results of a national ...

The dark side of antibiotic ciprofloxacin

July 25, 2018
The use of ciprofloxacin and other antibiotics of the class of fluoroquinolones may be associated with disruption of the normal functions of connective tissue, including tendon rupture, tendonitis and retinal detachment. ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.