Teen Girls Faced Raised Sports Injury Risk

Overuse injuries were more common in teen girls who played sports than in boys

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) Many teen girls play hard in school sports, and that’s a good thing. Unfortunately, they may be more likely than boys to be injured.

A new study found that teen girls were at much higher risk of overuse injuries than boys. Track injuries led the pack for teen girls who played sports.

Although past research found that overuse injuries were common in young adult athletes, Thomas M. Best, MD, of the Department of Family Medicine at Ohio State University, and colleagues wanted to look specifically at teens engaged in sports. Teens, they theorized, may be more susceptible to overuse injuries because they are still growing and developing bone.

“These young people spend more time playing sports both in competition and in practice. So, there’s a correlation there between the amount of time that they’re playing and the increased incidence of injuries,” Dr. Best said in a press release.

Overuse injuries occur from performing the same motion repeatedly. They can include stress fractures, tendonitis and joint pain.

The lower leg is the most common injury site, followed by the knee and shoulder. Overuse injuries can interrupt training and prevent athletes from competing.

Dr. Best and colleagues studied data on nearly 3,000 teen sports injuries over a seven-year period. They used the number of injuries per 10,000 athletic exposures (AEs) — an AE is defined as one practice or competition — to compare injury rates.

Teen girls who ran track had an injury rate of 3.82 injuries per 10,000 AEs — the highest injury rate. Girls’ field hockey and lacrosse had the next highest injury rates, at 2.93 and 2.73, respectively.

The highest overuse injury rates for boys were in swimming and diving, with a rate of 1.3.

It’s important for teen girls to take extra precautions to stay healthy, Dr. Best said.

“During this point of their lives, this is when girls are developing bones at the greatest rate," Dr. Best said. "It’s incredibly important that they’re getting the proper amounts of calcium and vitamin D [which may improve bone strength].”

This study was published in the June issue of the Journal of Pediatrics.

The research was funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Federation of State High School Associations, the National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment, DonJoy Orthotics and EyeBlack. Dr. Best and team disclosed no conflicts of interest.


Review Date: 
June 26, 2015
Last Updated:
July 2, 2015