THROW FAR. RUN FAST. When it comes to athletics, girls can do just about anything boys can—and that includes getting hurt.
In fact, according to a new study, female high school athletes face a 50 percent greater risk for overuse injuries than their male counterparts. What’s more, they tend to sustain these injuries earlier in their high school careers.
A SLOW, STEADY BUILD
Overuse injuries occur when a bone, muscle or tendon undergoes repeated stress without enough time to recover. Examples include shin splints, tendinitis and stress fractures.
Girls who play field hockey or compete in track and field have been shown to have the highest rate of overuse injuries.
Young athletes have more of these injuries than adults because they’re still growing. And that’s also why treatment matters so much. If a child pushes through the pain, the consequences could be impaired growth and long-term health problems, such as arthritis.
STAY SAFE ON THE TRACK OR MOUND
Unlike twisted ankles or concussions, overuse injuries develop gradually and worsen over time. At first, your child may feel pain only after activity. Then the ache will strike during play. Eventually, it will limit your child’s performance and linger even when he or she rests.
Watch for pain in areas linked to your child’s sport, including pitcher’s elbows, runner’s legs and feet, and swimmer’s shoulders. Also stay alert for swelling, changes to your child’s form or technique, or a drop in desire to attend practice.
To prevent overuse injuries:
- Encourage cross-training and multiple sports, especially before puberty. Specializing in one sport too early increases the risk for injury or burnout.
- Take one day off per week from any organized activity, and two to three months off per year from any given sport.
- Gradually increase training time or volume over the course of weeks or months.