Youth Sports Injuries: Are Girls More Fragile Than Boys?
Youth sports injuries are common in a chiropractor’s office. We treat kids’ athletic injuries regularly, especially in high school and summer camp favorites like volleyball, football, soccer, swimming, and tennis. Common injuries usually have to do with the elbows, neck, shoulders, and back.
I read a few articles recently that posed a thought-provoking question I’d like to bring to you: Are girls more fragile than boys when it comes to sustaining sports injuries? Is there any unbiased scientific evidence to support the claim, or is it based on viewing females as the more “delicate” gender or the “weaker” sex?
What Prevents Girls from Participating in Sports?
The Women’s Sports Foundation spent 25 years studying the drop-out rates in girls’ youth sports. Most girls drop out of athletics by the time they’re 14, which is two times the rate of boys. WSF has identified the key factors contributing to this startling number.
· There are few to no opportunities to play the desired sport given lack of access to utilities or the extra cost of paying for a gym membership or trainer. Schools continue to cut back on physical education classes, so millions of girls aren’t getting any athletic activity.
· Sports require a place to play, which often means traveling for miles to a facility, sometimes through rough neighborhoods. There is a concern for the safety and transportation of young girls to and from sports activities.
· Let’s talk about social norms. Even though we’ve seen tremendous progress in gender equality, athletic females are still stigmatized regarding their sexual orientation and gender identity. This is not something preteen or teen girls want to face and will forego sports because of it.
· Sports become “less fun” as girls get older because their facilities aren’t as nice as the boys’, and the best coaches generally focus on boys’ athletics.
· Finally, WSF lists a lack of positive role models as a critical factor for why girls drop out of sports more often than boys. Despite all our progress, girls are still faced with thousands of images of what society considers beautiful. They rarely align with the strong, confident female athlete every girl has inside herself.
What Are the Proposed Gender Differences in Youth Sports?
Practitioners from Human Kinetics suggest biological differences make boys more successful and essentially better at sports than girls. They state these differences, along with the differences in socialization of boys and girls, play a significant role in girls’ athletic performance, including frequency and intensity of the injury. Specifically, they note:
· Boys are usually taller with longer limbs, making them faster.
· Boys’ shoulder-width allows for more muscle on a larger girdle.
· Generally, boys have more muscle mass and less body fat than girls, making them stronger, faster, and less likely to sustain an injury than girls.
Two Cents from Your Favorite Female Chiropractor, Who’s Also a Competitive Athlete
There’s no ignoring the physical differences between boys and girls, but I challenge anyone who doesn’t recognize those factors have more to do with the social stigmatization of muscular women than anything else. I’ve never seen these biological differences stop or even limit a committed female athlete.
I have never observed differences in treating female and male athletes, nor have I considered that girls are somehow more fragile than boys. Sports help us build on important skills like leadership, teamwork, confidence, and even compassion for others. Girls’ athletics, especially, can teach positive body image and improved self-image. Further, athletes in the household tend to have better communication and deeper trust with their parents.
In any case, there is no difference in how I treat youth sports injuries. If you have a girl or boy athlete with an injury or mysterious pain, we can help you at Slovin Chiropractic Center in Norwalk. It’s best to catch any problems before they get worse. I can help your youth develop healthy habits that protect their bones, joints, and muscles while playing their favorite sport.