• Tim Crone: Injuries to female athletes a concern

  • The past couple of months I have been following athletic injuries. The topic of concussion issues that are front and center in football has sparked my interest.

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  • The past couple of months I have been following athletic injuries. The topic of concussion issues that are front and center in football has sparked my interest.
    A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about Little League pitcher arm and shoulder injuries that result from overuse while throwing at a young age. I also previously discussed the rapid increase of injuries to young female athletes, which in general generated a lot of positive feedback. A few people commented that I was overreacting and that the more a girl participates in one sport the better she becomes.
    I agree with that theory as far as skills go, but my point is that the human female body does not respond well to continued repetitive activities. Evidence of the physical toll on maturing female athletes can be found in a multitude of studies whose results have been posted online and discussed in several publications.
    In an article titled “Girls and Sports Injuries” found on Oprah.com ,the author, Michael Sokolove, who wrote the book “Warrior Girls: Protecting Our Daughters Against the Injury Epidemic in Women’s Sports,” points out there is a major consequence to the onslaught of girls participating in sports. Sokolove points out the genetic differences between boys and girls is a major reason that girls may suffer more sports-related injuries than boys.
    He states, “When boys and girls hit puberty, the boys get stronger – sometimes with virtually no effort of their own. Girls do not get stronger. Instead they become more flexible.” He points out that combination of less strength, more flexibility and playing a sport five times or more a week makes girls more susceptible to knee, ankle, hip and back injuries.
    According to Sololove, studies indicate that girls are more likely to ignore the pain compared to boys. With this approach, they continue to play in pain, which results in a larger chance for severe injury. Three things that coaches and parents can do to help curb these injuries to female athletes are:
    1. Don’t let your female athlete play the same sport year-round.
    2. Have a conversation with the coach about your concerns for the athlete.
    3. Look into programs that teach girls how to move differently to avoid injury.
    Another article titled “Women and Sports Injuries: Why It’s a Different Game,” written by Michael Laslandra points out some interesting statistics about women and sports injuries. The first alarming statistic is the rate of ACL injuries is three to six times higher in women than men. They are finding this to be particularly true in soccer and basketball. A lot of the research in this area is finding that a lot of these type of injuries are occurring in non-contact situations.
    Page 2 of 2 - The reason is from sudden deceleration movements or jumping. Because women are built different than men this type of sudden movement causes the woman athlete to land in a more upright position, putting more pressure on the joint and tendons. One of the important points made in this article is to have the female athletes learn to land in less of a vulnerable position and to have more neuromuscular control. A key focus for women athletic training should be the strengthening of the hamstrings, which is vital for controlling deceleration.
    Shoulder injuries are also more likely in females who participate in sports like volleyball, softball and swimming. The shoulder problems occur from a combination of not having strong shoulder muscles, including rotator cuff and periscapular muscles, and having loose supporting tissues that can lead to instability in the shoulder. Female athletes who play volleyball, swimming and softball need to keep their eyes open for rotator cuff weakness, tightness and pain of any type.
    Since Title IX was enacted in 1972, women sports have become huge in our sports-driven society. And it has been very positive for young female athletes. I have two granddaughters and hope they have find a niche in a sport.
    However, it is imperative that we stay vigilant of potential injuries and learn how to protect the young female athletes.
    n Everyone who plays golf has an opinion on the belly putter. But, like most things, I am old school. I think you need to swing every club in your bag and the belly putter needs to go.
    n Man! I have been suffering along with all Royals fans. I have been in a bad mood for two weeks with due to their poor performance. In fairness to the team, they are very young and the everyday players are in the process of adjusting to big-league pitchers. It is a painful process.
    n The Kansas City area high school track talent had a great year. It showed clearly that the west side of the state possesses talented young runners. Congrats!
    n Most of my friends do not follow the NBA, but I love the NBA playoffs. The beginning of the Pacers and Heat series has been outstanding.
    n My quote of the week comes from Benjamin Franklin, “Being ignorant is not so much a shame as being unwilling to learn to do things the right way.”

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