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To protect against injuries, young athletes may need to play more just for fun
Date:1/11/2013

MAYWOOD, Il. - One way to avoid injuries in young athletes may be for them to simply spend more time in unorganized free play such as pick-up games, a Loyola University Medical Study has found.

In a first-of-its-kind study, sports medicine specialist Dr. Neeru Jayanthi and colleagues found that injured young athletes who play a single sport such as tennis spent much less time in free play and unorganized sports than uninjured athletes who play tennis and many other sports.

Jayanthi presented his findings at the Society for Tennis Medicine and Science and United States Tennis Association-Tennis Medicine and Injury Conference in Atlanta.

In this collaborative study, Jayanthi followed 891 young athletes who were seen at Loyola University Health System and Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago clinics. Participants included 618 athletes who sought treatment for sports injuries and 273 uninjured athletes who came in for sports physicals. Study participants included 124 tennis players (74 of whom played tennis exclusively).

Among single-sport tennis players, the ones who suffered injuries spent 12.6 hours per week playing organized tennis and only 2.4 hours per week in free play and recreation. By comparison, the uninjured tennis players spent only 9.7 hours per week playing organized sports, and 4.3 hours a week in free play and recreation, even while having a similar total number of weekly hours. In other words, the injured tennis players spent more than 5 times as much time playing organized tennis as they did in free play and recreation, while the uninjured players spent only 2.6 times as much time playing organized tennis as they did in free play and recreation.

Jayanthi found a similar ratio when he compared injured athletes who specialize in tennis with uninjured athletes who play all sports. The injured tennis players spent 5.3 times as much time playing organized tennis as they did in free play and recreation, wh
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Contact: Jim Ritter
jritter@lumc.edu
708-216-2445
Loyola University Health System
Source:Eurekalert

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