A recent study carried out has found that teenage athletes who specialise in a single sport have a far higher probability of suffering injuries to their knees, ankles and areas of their upper legs in comparison to athletes who play a range of different sports.
Athletes who fell into the ‘moderately specialised’ category were found to have as much as a 50% chance of being susceptible to injury, while those ‘who had a high specialisation classification had an 85% higher incidence of lower extremity injuries (LEI).’
Those were the primary findings delivered by the study’s lead researcher, Timothy A. McGuine, Ph.D., ATC from the University of Wisconsin, at the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine’s Annual Meeting in Toronto.
Speaking about the findings, Dr McGuine said: “Sport specialisation appears to be an independent risk factor for injury, as opposed to simply being a function of increased sport exposure.” Dr McGuine’s study was made up of more than 1,500 athletes who had an average age of 16, equally split between females and males.
The leading cause of increased rates of injury stems from athletes playing one sport repeatedly, placing greater stress on the same body parts time and time again. This is particularly poignant for teenagers as it’s a critical period when they are still developing. By comparison, playing multiple sports throughout the year exerts various body parts, ligaments and muscles, therefore spreading out the physical stress on young bodies.
On average, over a third of the injuries that resulted in athletes suffering seven days of missed participation involved ankles (34%). Knee injuries affected a quarter of the participants, while 13% experienced upper leg injuries. Among the study’s participants, it was cited that, “Soccer was the sport with the highest percentage of athletes being highly specialised,” the authors said.
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