How Too Much Practice Can Lead to Time on the Bench

According to a recent study, the lower leg is the most common site of overuse injuries, especially in female track athletes.

Shutterstock 

With reputation, potential college scholarships, and victory on the line, it’s hard to blame teen athletes for going all out, all season long. There’s no doubt that exercise and training (and winning) are beneficial, but a new study suggests that too much practice in the name of the game may actually do more harm than good.  

Examining 3,000 high school athletes across a span of 20 different sports, researchers from Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center found that the highest overall rate of overuse injuries—caused by excessive repetitive motion—occurred in female track athletes.  

Girls in field hockey and lacrosse were also hit hard by the injury rate, as were teen male swimmers and divers, but the number of reported boys’ injuries reached only one-third of those of the girls.

Study author Dr. Thomas Best, a professor at Ohio State University’s department of sports medicine, explains the gender difference:

"This is when girls are developing bones at the greatest rate, so it's incredibly important that they're getting the proper amounts of calcium and vitamin D."

On the basis that overuse injuries account for about half of all sport-related injuries, Dr. Best recommends that teens be open to playing more than one sport so as to work their joints and muscles in varying capacities. 

To determine whether your teen is at risk for an overuse injury, read our April 2015 feature, “Broken Athletes,” which offers an inside look at how a high school athlete’s world can come crashing down in just one pitch. The story also lists the six most common overuse injuries and how to protect against them.