-- Robert Preidt
FRIDAY, April 19 (HealthDay News) -- Young athletes who train
intensely for one sport are at greatly increased risk for severe
overuse injuries such as stress fractures, a new study finds.
For example, children and teens who play a sport for more hours
per week than their age -- such as a 12-year-old who plays tennis
13 or more hours a week -- are 70 percent more likely to suffer
serious overuse injuries than other types of injuries, according to
"We should be cautious about intense specialization in one sport before and during adolescence," study author Dr. Neeru Jayanthi, medical director of primary care sports medicine at Loyola University Medical Center in Chicago, said in a Loyola news release. "Among the recommendations we can make, based on our findings, is that young athletes should not spend more hours per week in organized sports than their ages."
The study included more than 1,200 athletes, aged 8 to 18, who
came in for sports physicals or treatment of injuries between 2010
and 2013. There were a total of more than 850 injuries, including
more than 550 overuse injuries.
There were nearly 150 serious overuse injuries, including stress
fractures in the back or limbs, elbow ligament injuries, and
injuries to the cartilage and underlying bone. These types of
injuries can prevent young athletes from playing sports for one to
six months or longer, the researchers said.
Young athletes were more likely to be injured if they spent more
than twice as much time per week playing organized sports as they
spent in unorganized free play, according to the study, which was
to be presented Friday at the annual meeting of the American
Medical Society for Sports Medicine in San Diego.
Research presented at medical meetings should be viewed as
preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.
Athletes who suffered serious overuse injuries spent an average
of 21 hours per week doing physical activity (organized sports, gym
time and unorganized free play), including 13 hours in organized
sports. Athletes who were not injured spent an average of about 18
hours per week doing physical activity, including only about nine
hours in organized sports.
Jayanthi offered some tips to reduce young athletes' risk of
The Nemours Foundation has more about
preventing children's sports injuries.
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