Girls are more likely than boys to have overuse injuries while participating in high school sports

Overuse injuries make up more than 50 percent of athletic injuries and are most common in children ages 13 to 17. Girls are at a higher risk than boys of overuse injuries while participating in high school sports, according to a study by researchers at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center and published in the Journal of Pediatrics. Tendonitis, stress fractures and joint pain are examples of overuse injuries, which happen when athletes perform the same motion again and again.

In the study, Thomas Best analyzed 3,000 injury cases during a seven year period of time associated with 20 high school sports such as soccer, volleyball, gymnastics and lacrosse. Best and his team discovered the highest rate of overuse injuries happened in girls’ track (3.82), followed by girls’ field hockey (2.93) and girls’ lacrosse (2.73). The most common overuse injuries for boys occurred in swimming and diving (1.3).

“These young people spend more time playing sports both in competition and in practice,” said Best, an endowed professor in Ohio State’s department of family medicine. “So there’s a correlation there between the amount of time that they’re playing and the increased incidence of injuries.”

Over the past 10 years, high school athletic participation and intensity has gone up. Best said some high school athletes spend more than 18 hours per week participating in athletics, and some play more than one sport at a time. The most common site of overuse injuries is the lower leg, followed by the knee then the shoulder, Best said. To avoid overuse injuries, Best recommends varying movement, playing more than one sport and prioritizing rest and nutrition.

“During this point of their lives, this is when girls are developing bones at the greatest rate,” Best said. “It’s incredible important that they’re getting the proper amounts of calcium and vitamin D.”

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