May 14, 2015
1 min read

Age, sport-specialized training, excessive play may be linked to injury risk

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Young athletes were found to be at an elevated risk for injury as they aged, engaged in sport-specialized training and when they spent a disproportionate amount of time in organized sports vs. free play time, according to study data.

Researchers evaluated survey data from 822 injured athletes (age range: 7 to 18 years) between 2010 and 2013. Data were compared with data from a group of 368 healthy controls who underwent a sports physical in the same period. Information regarding the hours per week spent participating in sports (organized sports, physical education class and free play), degree of sport specialization, Tanner stage, height, weight and injury details were analyzed and compared between cohorts.

Lara Dugas


Athletes injured at the time of study were more likely than controls to be older (14.1 years vs. 12.9 years, respectively) and engage in more weekly hours of both total physical activity (19.6 vs. 17.6, respectively) and organized sports activity (11.2 vs. 9.1, respectively), according to the researchers.

Risks for injury and serious overuse injury were 1.27 and 1.36 times higher, respectively, in athletes who underwent sport-specialized training.

Additionally, serious overuse injury risk was also respectively 2.07 and 1.87 times higher, respectively, in athletes who spent more hours weekly participating in sports than their number of years of age and had a 2:1 ratio between weekly hours spent in organized sports vs. free play. – by Christian Ingram

Disclosures: Jayanthi reports involvement as an author on a position statement for the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine on overuse injuries and burnout in the adolescent athlete. Please see the full study for a list of all other authors’ relevant financial disclosures.