Female Athletes and Overuse Injuries

Sports injury statistics show women injured because of overuse while men have more acute injuries

(RxWiki News) It’s no surprise that college athletes get injured a lot, but female college athletes are less likely to get hurt from an accident in exchange for nearly a third of their injuries resulting from training too much.

A recent study shows that 29.3% of injuries sustained by college athletes are purely from overuse, and women are twice as likely to have overuse injuries than men.

The next questions are what are women doing differently and what needs to change?

"Don’t go too far with training; rest if you’re hurting!"

Lead author Yang Jingzhen, Ph.D, M.P.H. associate professor in the Department of Community and Behavioral Health at the Injury Prevention Center at the University of Iowa wanted to gather solid data about sports injuries.

The study looked at 1317 injuries from 573 male and female athletes in 16 NCAA Division I sports over the course of three years. During this period of time the athletes reported 29.3% overuse injuries, and 70.7% acute injuries. Acute injuries were the result of impact or accident from a single identifiable event, and were higher in male athletes due mostly to the sport of football.

Overuse injuries happen when small wear and tear builds up over time like stress factures, tendinitis and inflammation.

Co-author Tracey Covassin, certified trainer and member of the department of Kinesiology at Michigan State University says, “Understanding the frequency, rate and severity of overuse injuries is an important first step for designing effective injury-prevention program, intervention strategies and treatment protocols to prevent and rehabilitate athletes with these types of injuries.”

Interestingly, only 50.8% of the time did the overuse injuries result in bench time for the athletes. This means that the athletes are pushing through these overuse injuries and possibly making them much worse in the long run.

Covassin also noted, “Better strategies for the prevention and early intervention of overuse injuries in all sports and for both sexes are imperative in order to reduce their number and severity.”

This study provides great evidence and statistical data to become a basis for further sports injury studies. The next step will be to figure out why female athletes are more prone to overuse injuries and how to intervene before they become a real problem.

This study will be published in the Journal of Athletic Training, March/April 2012. No funding information was given and no conflicts of interest were found.

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Review Date: 
April 13, 2012