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Injury characteristics in male youth athletics: a five-season prospective study in a full-time sports academy

Abstract

Objectives To describe the injury characteristics of male youth athletes exposed to year-round athletics programmes.

Methods Injury surveillance data were prospectively collected by medical staff in a cohort of youth athletics athletes participating in a full-time sports academy from 2014–2015 to 2018–2019. Time-loss injuries (>1 day) were recorded following consensus procedures for athletics. Athletes were clustered into five event groups (sprints, jumps, endurance, throws and non-specialised) and the number of completed training and competition sessions (athletics exposures (AE)) were calculated for each athlete per completed season (one athlete season). Injury characteristics were reported overall and by event groups as injury incidence (injuries per 1000 AE) and injury burden (days lost per 1000 AE).

Results One-hundred and seventy-eight boys (14.9±1.8 years old) completed 391 athlete seasons, sustaining 290 injuries. The overall incidence was 4.0 injuries per 1000 AE and the overall burden was 79.1 days lost per 1000 AE. The thigh was the most common injury location (19%). Muscle strains (0.7 injuries per 1000 AE) and bone stress injuries (0.5 injuries per 1000 AE) presented the highest incidence and stress fractures the highest burden (17.6 days lost per 1000 AE). The most burdensome injury types by event group were: bone stress injuries for endurance, hamstring strains for sprints, stress fractures for jumps, lesion of meniscus/cartilage for throws and growth plate injuries for non-specialised athletes.

Conclusion Acute muscle strains, stress fractures and bone stress injuries were identified as the main injury concerns in this cohort of young male athletics athletes. The injury characteristics differed between event groups.

  • adolescent
  • athletics
  • epidemiology
  • injuries
  • prospective study design

Data availability statement

All data relevant to the study are included in the article or uploaded as online supplemental information. Deidentified participant data available under reasonable request.

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