The study was small, but the results lined up with what many health care professionals have been saying for years: youth athletes who specialize in a single sport may be at a higher risk for injury.
In a study published in The American Journal of Sports Medicine (Prevalence of Sport Specialization in High School Athletics: A 1-Year Observational Study, June 2016), "highly specialized athletes were more likely to report a history of overuse knee or hip injuries."
"There are so many great aspects to sports participation, and we don’t want this information to scare athletes or parents," said study author David Bell of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, in a press release from the university. "We just want them to be wise consumers and to participate as safely as possible."
Physical therapists typically encourage athletes of all ages to diversify their exercise to avoid injury, but it can be particularly important for young athletes.
According to physical therapist Sue Falsone, PT, ATC, MS, the former head physical therapist for the Los Angeles Dodgers, in an interview with Move Forward Radio (Avoiding Baseball Injuries-May 8, 2014), "Sometimes we ask the immature body to do things that they just physically can't handle. And even if you're getting through it at that time, it's usually something that might break down later on."
- Video: Overuse Injuries in Youth Athletes
- Podcast: Risks of Youth Specialization
- Did You Know: Overuse Injuries More Common in High School Girls Than Boys
- Physical Therapy Guide for Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL Tear)
- Physical Therapy Guide for Meniscal Tear
- Physical Therapy Guide to Hip Labral Tears
- Podcast: Risks of Youth Sports Specialization
- Physical Therapy A Good First Choice Before Surgery for Meniscal Tears and Knee Osteoarthritis
Access additional Did You Know? pages.