Girls At Higher Risk For Overuse Injuries

Increasingly, doctors and coaches are seeing girls with more overuse injuries than boys. The sports with the highest risk were track, field hockey, and lacrosse.

Recently, researchers found that girls were at a higher risk for overuse injuries than boys, especially in track and field, field hockey, and lacrosse. The study was conducted in 2015, but it has only increased for girls, especially when it comes to knee injuries. In their study, researchers found that overuse injuries represented 13% of all injuries for girls. Boys, on the other hand, only accounted for 5.5% of overuse injuries – a large percentage drop compared to girls. This is leading to a refocusing on girls for injury assessment and prevention.

What Is An Overuse Injury?

Overuse injuries are hard to detect until it’s too late. They are more subtle and usually occur over a long period of time. An overuse injury is caused by repetitive micro-trauma to the joints, tendons, and bones. Overuse injuries can sometimes be as painful as an acute injury or can be a constant dull pain that never ceases. Overuse injuries are often strains, but can also include tendonitis, bursitis, shin splints, and can lead to stress fractures.

Because overuse injuries occur over time, it’s often hard to detect and diagnose before it’s too late. However, there are some early signs and symptoms of overuse injuries and inflammation that can be an indication of an injury.

  • Swelling
  • Warm to the touch
  • Redness
  • Dull pain or ache that doesn’t cease or occurs with the same movement

Why Are Girls More At Risk For Overuse Injuries?

The study found that girls were more at risk for overuse injuries early in high school, while boys were significantly more at risk than girls later on in high school sports. This is probably due to the development of the female body during early high school, concluded researchers. Hormones, growth, stress, and nutrition are all factors that go into injury assessment of girls. While the female body changes drastically at this age, hormones released can make it more difficult to engage muscles when needed.

Stress, as well as diet and nutrition, can also play a major factor. Many girls during this stage do not receive adequate nutrition to not only aid healthy development, but to counter the physical, mental, and emotional stress caused by high school – from sports to peer pressure and even academics. All of these factors put girls more at risk during the early years of high school.

Injury Assessment And Prevention

Focusing on girls during these periods of time for injury assessment and prevention can help to decrease the risk of overuse injuries. Encouraging them to eat healthily and see a nutritionist, get enough sleep, take adequate breaks, and learn to handle stress can help substantially with decreasing this risk. Furthermore, schools can be even more proactive in implementing an injury prevention program that takes into account each individual athlete’s biomechanics and physiology to assess injury risk and weakness.