Just in time for the 2012 summer Olympics in London, a new study has found track-related injuries are on the rise among young athletes in the United States.
Researchers at the Center for Injury Research and Policy of The Research Institute at Nationwide Children's Hospital said the findings should serve as a reminder to parents and coaches that while the Olympics may inspire kids to try a new sport, such as track, they need to be aware of the potential risk of injury.
The study, published in the Physician and Sportsmedicine journal, found that from 1991 through 2008 more than 159,000 children and adolescents between 10 and 18 years of age were treated for track-related injuries. Over the 18 years of the study, researchers noted a 36 percent increase in injuries, which jumped from 7,702 in 1991 to 10,496 in 2008.
"Participation in track is a great way to encourage children and adolescents to remain physically active," said lead researcher Lara McKenzie. "However, the increase in injuries corresponding with the increased participation in this activity suggests we need to do a better job of preventing track-related injuries among our young athletes."
According to the study, the most common injuries were sprains and/or strains (52 percent) and fractures or dislocations (17 percent). The findings also indicated the most common activities performed at the time of injury were running (59 percent) and hurdles (23 percent).
"We found that the most commonly injured body parts varied across activity and across age group. For instance, elementary students were more likely to sustain upper extremity injuries while high school students were more likely to sustain lower leg injuries," said McKenzie. "With this in mind, track-related injury prevention efforts may need to be tailored by activity for different age groups in order to most effectively address the injury concerns the athletes are facing."