One-sport athletes have higher risk of becoming injured PDF Print E-mail
Written by JACOB BEVERLY Sentinel Sports Writer   
Thursday, 29 August 2013 09:51
In an era where athletes are always looking for an advantage over their competition, children are turning to one sport specializations in hopes of becoming more of an elite athlete.
It has been referred to as the Tiger Woods syndrome.
But it may prove to be costly for children to specialize and become one-sport athletes.
According to Dr. Timothy Hewett, the director of research at Ohio State University Sports Medicine, studies show one-sport athletes have a 50 percent higher risk of injury.
"A lot of the time when you do one single sport, you're only working certain muscles," said Mike Messaros the senior athletic trainer at Wood County Hospital. "By working lots of different multiple muscles not only through strength training, but through stretching and flexibility, you make a better, well-rounded athlete."
Thus, being involved in a diversity of sports or activities is very important. It's especially important during an athlete's adolescence.
"It's more prevalent in adolescence. In adolescence, your risk of injury goes way up, relative to a child. Athletic injuries tend to peak at the high school years," Hewett said. "So, for girls, athletic injuries tend to peak in the range of around age 16 and boys around ages 17-18. Boys actually go even into their early 20s, but, in general, injuries peak during high school years."
The sports that cause the highest rate of potential injury are football, soccer and basketball.
"There are several reasons. Football is high because it's a collision sport. Soccer is high because there are just so many kids playing; it's so much exposure, plus there are collision aspects to it. And the way people play even the sport of basketball, although, it's suppose to be a non-collision sport, collisions occur," Hewett said. "But, also non-contact injuries when you are playing a lot, you get a lot of overuse injuries that aren't related to contact. So it's multiple reasons but a lot of it has to do with exposure, playing the sport a lot. The more you play, the more risk of injury you have."
When it comes to overuse injuries, cross country and track have the highest potential for injury.
"Overuse, we see more of the running sports, cross country and track," Messaros said. "Those are the ones we see more of the stress related or the shin splints kind of pains, stress fracture kind of injuries."
Once an athlete is injured, they run the risk of potentially gaining weight.
Not only following the injury, but multiple years, two, three, five years later.
One-sport athletes are thought to be more prone than diverse athletes.
"The reason they are more prone is because they get injured more often," Hewett said. "So what we know is that one-sport athletes are about 50 percent more likely to get injured. We know that any athlete once they get injured tend to become less active and they tend to gain weight from that decrease in physical activity. So that's why one sport athletes are more prone, because they get injured more often."
Even if athletes recover from an injury and return to their sport, they face obesity rates 33 percent higher than others.
"One of the best predictors of future injury is past injuries," Hewett said. "So, once you are injured, you tend to get injured again and with every one of those injuries you tend to have more inactivity, so, more weight gain."
To try and prevent injuries, athletes can make sure they are prepared and ready for the daunting physical demands of their sports.
"Proper conditioning is very important, proper coaching is important, weight training is of the upmost importance," Messaros said.
The best type of conditioning to prepare yourself as an athlete are those that create a balance with in your body.
"Neuromuscular training creates balance," Hewett said. "A lot of balance exercise, jumping, plyometric exercise, exercise that challenges your body and your neuromuscular control in multiple planes of motion. Exercises that make you more neuromuscularly balanced, front to back, side to side, top to bottom."
If an athlete does get injured however, it is important to try and stay active.
"Even if you are injured, you need to maintain physical activity," Hewett said.

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