Sport Specialization Leads to More Injuries

Researchers at the University of Wisconsin recently published findings from a study on sport specialization and overuse injuries in high school student-athletes. The results showed an increase in the number of knee or hip injuries reported among those athletes concentrating on just one sport.

An article from Science Daily explains that the one-year observational study included 302 student-athletes from two high schools who completed two surveys. In one, they were asked about sport specialization--broken into high, moderate, and low. The second survey asked about their injury history. The results of the study found that those who were in the high specialization group—especially those who reported training for a sport for more than two-thirds of the year—were more likely to report knee and hip injuries as well as overuse knee injuries.

“Recommendations already exist to try and limit athletes’ year-round exposure to sports,” David Bell, Assistant Professor in UW's Department of Kinesiology’s Athletic Training Program and director of the Wisconsin Injury in Sport Laboratory, told Science Daily. “Yet we don’t know how well these recommendations are known to the average person. Our next step is to survey parents and athletes regarding their knowledge of sport participation recommendations, and also their attitudes toward sport specialization. Do they think it is important to achieve their athletic goals, and why? There are so many great aspects to sports participation and we don’t want this information to scare athletes or parents—we just want them to be wise consumers and to participate as safely as possible.”