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Sports Medicine Feature

Source: Wikimedia Commons and Runner1928

Sport Specialization Increases Lower Extremity Injuries in High School Athletes

Tracey Romero • Mon, October 23rd, 2017

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In a study, “A Prospective Study on the Effect of Sport Specialization on Lower Extremity Injury Rates in High School Athletes” published in the October, 2017 issue of The American Journal of Sports Medicine, University of Wisconsin researchers found that high school athletes with moderate or high sport specialization are at a higher risk for lower extremity injuries than athletes with low specialization.

The study included 1,544 participants, about half of them female, who competed in 2,843 athletic seasons. Sport specialization was classified as low, moderate or high.

According to the data, the incidence of lower extremity injuries (LEIs) was higher for those athletes with high (P = .02) and moderate specialization (P = .03) compared to athletes with low specialization. The most common LEIs were ankle (34.4%), knee (25.0%) and upper leg (12.7%), with 40.9% of them being ligament sprains.

The researchers wrote, “Sports medicine providers need to educate coaches, parents and interscholastic athletes regarding the increased risk of LEIs for athletes who specialize in a single sport.”

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