Injury rates in young female athletes may be underestimated

Injury rates in young female athletes may be underestimated
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“Most studies define injury as time loss from participation, whereas many athletes with overuse injuries continue to participate despite pain and reduced performance. When time-loss definitions are used, about 90 per cent of overuse injuries appear to be missed,” researchers write in the journal BMJ Open Sport and Exercise Medicine.

“Most studies define injury as time loss from participation, whereas many athletes with overuse injuries continue to participate despite pain and reduced performance. When time-loss definitions are used, about 90 per cent of overuse injuries appear to be missed,” researchers write in the journal BMJ Open Sport and Exercise Medicine.

Angelo Richardson of Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences in The Netherlands and colleagues studied 60 young women who competed at the national or international level in soccer, basketball or gymnastics. The average age of the study participants was 17.

Overall, at any given time during the study, 48 per cent of the athletes reported injuries, the authors found. In addition, every two weeks, nearly 61 per cent of the athletes were reporting some sort of health problem - either injury or illness.

Injury rates were similar for all three sports. But when it came to “substantial” injuries, the soccer and basketball players were at higher risk, with rates of roughly 28 per cent in each group, compared to the gymnasts, whose rate of substantial injuries was 16 per cent.

“Most training for athletes has now transitioned from maximum lifts in the gym to functional exercises that train sport-specific movement patterns,” said Lawrence Spriet, a researcher in the Department of Human Health and Nutritional Sciences at the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada.

“Ensuring that athletes fuel properly through their diet, have consistent warm-ups and cool-downs before and after exercise, and use individualized training protocols can all assist in injury prevention,” said Spriet.

It is common for athletes to sustain injuries but it is essential to try to prevent injuries that cause time-loss from training and competition, decrease performance levels, and that can become chronic if not treated properly, Spriet added. “Seeking treatment at the onset of complaints or injury will help avoid this,” he said.

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