According to a Loyola University Medical Study, one way to prevent injuries in young athletes may be for them to spend more time in unorganized sports and play, such as pick-up games. In the study, the research team found that injured young athletes who play a single sport spent much less time in unorganized sports and free play than uninjured athletes who play several sports. Sports medicine specialist Dr. Neeru Jayanthi and collaborating colleagues followed 891 young athletes who were seen at clinics at the Loyola University Health System and Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago.
The participants included 618 athletes who sought treatment for sports injuries and 273 uninjured athletes who came in for sports physicals. Of the participants, 124 were tennis players, with 74 individuals who exclusively played tennis. The findings of the study revealed that the injured tennis players spent more than five times as much time playing organized tennis than they did in free play and recreation, while uninjured players spent only 2.6 times as much playing organized tennis as they did in recreation and free play.
A similar ratio was found when Jayanthi compared injured athletes who specialize in tennis to uninjured athletes that play all sports. Uninjured athletes spent only 1.9 times as much time playing organized sports as they did in free play and recreation, while injured tennis players 5.3 times as much time playing organized tennis as they did in free play. He explains that the findings of the study suggest “more participation in a variety of unorganized sports and free play may be protective of injury, particularly among tennis players.” The findings are part of a subset of an ongoing study of young athletes who are seen in clinics and followed for 3 years, which has received 2 grants from the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine.
Source: Loyola University Health System