If you have a child playing ball sports from an early age, congratulations! You are helping to protect against bone injury in their future.
Bone stress injuries can cause significant pain and result in recurrent injury and loss of participation in sports. Female runners sustain higher rates of bone stress injury (stress fractures) compared to other athletes. This is in part due to the thickness and strength of the bones in their legs and feet. In addition, females lose bone mass faster than males.
A recent study examined the bone thickness and strength in healthy female cross-country runners. They found that those athletes who had played soccer and basketball as children had significantly stronger and thicker bones compared with those who had specialised in running and cycling only (around 18%). Therefore, the athletes who played ball sports as a child, had better protection against bone stress injury.
The study confirmed that playing a multi-directional sport, that is a sport where there is sudden changes of speed and direction (football, soccer, netball, hockey, tennis, etc) for 6 months of the year for 5 years or more before and during the onset of puberty results in a more robust skeleton and better protection from stress injuries compared to running alone.
Encouraging our children, especially our girls, to play team sports has many advantages. It builds teamwork, communication skills, confidence, and protects them well into the future. That is worth cheering about.
Warden, S. J., Sventeckis, A. M., Surowiec, R. K., & Fuchs, R. K. (2022). Enhanced Bone Size, Microarchitecture, and Strength in Female Runners with a History of Playing Multidirectional Sports. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 10.1249/MSS.0000000000003016.