High School Athletic Injuries on the Rise

Post by: Ashley

Featured Image By Beth Rankin

The Youth Sports Safety Alliance says, “High school athletes suffer 2 million injures, 500,000 doctor visits and 30,000 hospitalizations each year”. CNN reports have shown, “The rate of ACL reconstructions performed on children aged 3-20 more than doubled from 1990 to 2009”. More and more sports have been focusing on speed, endurance, and drills rather than taking the time to improve muscle strength to reduce the chance of injuries. Many of the “common” injuries include: sprains, strains, and fractures. Some of these injuries occur because teenagers bones, muscles, and tendons grow at different rates causing unstable joints. Younger athletes are beginning to specialize in sports which has increased participation at an earlier age. More and more kids are specializing in one sport and training too hard, more emphasis should be put on participating for fun and exercising rather than winning.

Overuse Injuries:

Overuse injuries happen when an activity is repeated over and over without adequate healing time. These injuries often affect muscles, tendons, ligaments, bones, and growth plates. Young athletes can also get stress fractures from overuse because their bones are always in a state of remodeling. The Team Physicians Handbook 3rd edition reads, “Overuse injuries can be classified into 4 stages: (1) pain in the affected area after physical activity; (2) pain during the activity, without restricting performance; (3) pain during the activity that restricts performance; and (4) chronic, unremitting pain even at rest. Up to 50% of all injuries seen in pediatric sports medicine are related to overuse”. Athletes who play on more than one team are also more likely to experience overuse injuries. Half of all the sports injuries in high school and middle school athletes are overuse injuries. Structurally immature athletes have imbalance between flexibility and strength due to growing bones and muscles.


Some simple ways to avoid overuse are warming up before stretching, recognizing that pain or discomfort means something is wrong and not to continue with your activity, as well as getting the proper nutrition and keeping well hydrated to reduce these problems. Getting enough calcium is especially important in female athletes. Using proper gear and form depending on the sport or activity is essential. Have hard days and light days and alternate for training.

Acute Injuries:

Acute injuries are the result of a sudden single traumatic event and include sprains (a partial or complete tear of a ligament), strains (a partial or complete tear of a muscle or tendon), and fractures. These injuries often occur when there is a collision with an obstacle on the field or another player, a tackle, or a fall after jumping. Safe Kids USA states, “Young athletes of the same age can differ greatly in size and physical maturity. Injuries can occur when they are physically less mature than their peers and try to perform at levels for which they are not ready”.


Many injuries can be prevented by using proper conditioning, training, and equipment. When athletes follow the rules of the game, and display good sportsmanship a number of these injuries will cease to exist. Sports specific training as well as year round training will also help to reduce the likelihood of acute injuries. Proper training i young athletes is becoming increasingly more important. Well structured weight training modestly helps young athletes prepare for athletic activities.


The Head Case Company reports given CDC state, “The amount of reported concussions has doubled in the last 10 years. The American Academy of Pediatrics has reported that emergency room visits for concussions in kids ages 8 to 13 years old has doubled, and concussions have risen 200 percent among teens ages 14 to 19 in the last decade”. Reports confirm that most concussions occur during practices but players are continuously allowed to keep playing and it is the next few hits that may cause permanent brain damage. Football, boys ice hockey, and boys lacrosse are the top 3 high school sports that have experienced concussions, 46-74% of students have reported having at least one concussion during the seasons. There are not any high school sports that do not run the risk of concussions.


While it may be impossible to prevent all sports related concussions, there are measures that can be taken to reduce the likelihood of concussion or recurrence. Concussion headbands and helmets are available to all students but they are not always provided through the school depending on the sport. More studies are needed but improving player conditioning, using better protective equipment, and enhanced enforcement of sporting rules my help reduce the rate of concussion in high school athletes.


Check out this report on some football injuries:

Follow this link for a video on some sports injury statistics in Houston Texas:

UIL releases report of top injuries in high school sports

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