In a new article published in the Orthopaedics section of Healio, Dr. Anthony Romeo and his co-writer Dr. Rachel M. Frank outline the risk young female athletes face for overuse injuries. Read on to learn more about this threat to our young female sports players, and then check out our other educational resources about elbow injuries and shoulder injuries at Dr. Anthony Romeo, MD.
A Problem Hidden in Plain Sight
While many associate overuse injuries with young male athletics — which Dr. Anthony Romeo has discussed at length — it’s important to remember young female athletes are susceptible as well. In fact, as Dr. Anthony Romeo notes in the article, some studies have shown that girls experience higher rates of overuse injuries than boys.
According to Dr. Anthony Romeo and Dr. Frank, the lack of focus on overuse injuries in girls has lead to a gap in knowledge about the issue. Without greater focus on the prevalence of overuse injuries in young female athletes, researchers physical therapists, doctors, and coaches will remain unequipped to implement prevention and treatment strategies.
Understanding Gender Differences in Youth Sports Injuries
Not only have female youth athletic injuries suffered an absence of research, but they also differ in significant ways from youth male injuries. Consequently, the extensive research that has begun to develop on boy athletes doesn’t apply to young girls.
Whereas young boys most commonly face injuries as a result of high pitch counts in youth baseball — which leads to high incidences of cases requiring Tommy John Surgery — girls risk overuse injuries most in field hockey and track and field. They also experience high risk of overuse injury in soccer, volleyball, and softball — although their softball injuries differ from the injuries boys experience.
Fixing this Critical Problem
To reduce the cases of overuse injuries in young female athletes, more research must be done on the physiological causes of these injuries. With greater knowledge of the problem, we can begin to develop preventative treatments and policies to help our young female sports players.
Injuries incurred at a young age can impact someone for the rest of their life, leading to long-term complications, pain, and discomfort. We must fill this gap in research about overuse injuries to protect our young female athletes and ensure they can enjoy their sport of choice now and long into the future.