The following is excerpted from an online article posted by ScienceDaily.
Young athletes who participate in multidirectional sports instead of specializing in a unidirectional sport like running can build stronger bones that may be at less risk for bone injuries as adults, according to a new study from Indiana University researchers.
Published in the American College of Sports Medicine’s Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, the study examined Division I and II female cross-country runners, who often experience bone stress injuries like stress fractures. The researchers found that athletes who ran and participated in sports that require movement in many directions — such as basketball or soccer — when younger had better bone structure and strength than those who solely ran, swam, or cycled.
As a result, the study’s findings support recommendations that athletes delay specialization in running and play multi-directional sports when younger to build a more robust skeleton — and potentially prevent bone stress injuries.
“Our research shows that the runners who played multidirectional sports when younger had stronger bones as collegiate athletes, which puts them at less risk for bone stress injuries, including stress fractures,” said Stuart Warden, associate dean for research and Chancellor’s Professor in the IU School of Health and Human Sciences at IUPUI. “We want to ensure people have better, stronger bones as they grow, become adolescents, and go through life. Specializing in one sport at too young of an age means they are more likely to get injured and not make it at the collegiate and professional levels.”