Sports specialization may lead to more lower extremity injuries

July 23, 2017

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

Burn victim saved by skin grafts from identical twin (Update)

November 23, 2017
A man doomed to die after suffering burns across 95 percent of his body was saved by skin transplants from his identical twin in a world-first operation, French doctors said Thursday.

Is a common shoulder surgery useless?

November 21, 2017
(HealthDay)—New research casts doubt on the true effectiveness of a common type of surgery used to ease shoulder pain.

Study shows electric bandages can fight biofilm infection, antimicrobial resistance

November 6, 2017
Researchers at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center have shown - for the first time - that special bandages using weak electric fields to disrupt bacterial biofilm infection can prevent infections, combat antibiotic ...

Obesity increases incidence, severity, costs of knee dislocations

November 3, 2017
A new study of more than 19,000 knee dislocation cases in the U.S. between 2000 and 2012 provides a painful indication of how the nation's obesity epidemic is changing the risk, severity and cost of a traumatic injury.

Defining optimal opioid pain medication prescription length following surgery

September 27, 2017
A new study led by researchers at the Center for Surgery and Public Health at Brigham and Women's Hospital analyzed opioid prescription data from the Department of Defense Military Health System Data Repository, identifying ...

Is older blood OK to use in a transfusion?

September 27, 2017
(HealthDay)—Using older red blood cells to give transfusions to critically ill patients doesn't appear to affect their risk of dying, Australian researchers report.

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.