– To prevent injuries, it is critical that coaches and parents are better educated about the effects of specialization in a single sport, according to a recent study.

The study was presented during the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine’s Annual Meeting in Toronto.

In the study, led by Timothy A. McGuine, Ph.D., ATC from the University of Wisconsin, 1,544 high school-age individuals from the 2015-2016 academic year (50% female, average age: 16 years) were asked to complete a questionnaire that identified their sports participation, history of injury, and level of specialization (low, moderate, high) based on a three-item scale previously published. An athletic trainer reviewed the questionnaires before placing them in the study.

As part of the questionnaire, the participants 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, according to a media release from the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine.

The release notes that 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.

Read the full article here.

Dr. Brendan Boyle DPT
Dr. Brendan Boyle DPT

In general, it seems to be a trend that we are seeing more and more patients who specialize in a specific sport. Whether they do this to increase their chances of getting into a good college, lessen the financial burden of school, or even to eventually turn pro, it’s important to be aware of the risks of sport-specific specialization. An important part of injury prevention in this population is making sure that any underlying stability/mobility deficits are properly addressed.