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Warm-up helps girls avoid sports injuries

By Chelsea Conaboy
Globe Staff / November 14, 2011

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Girls who play high school sports are more likely than their counterparts on boys teams to injure their knees and ankles during play, and long-term studies have shown that such injuries can increase the risk of developing early osteoarthritis.

Researchers in Chicago found that coaches at urban high schools could help their female athletes avoid noncontact injuries in soccer and basketball by leading them through a 20-minute neuromuscular warm-up that includes strengthening, balance, and agility exercises, as well as training on the proper way to jump and land with flexed knees and hips.

Ninety coaches from Chicago public high schools and 1,492 athletes completed the study. Coaches were randomly assigned to receive the warm-up training or to continue in their usual practices.

Girls whose coaches were trained in the warm-up method were less likely to have both gradual and acute injuries and less likely to sprain their ankles, knees, or the anterior cruciate ligament, which is commonly injured. The authors note that more frequent use of the warm-up method was tied to fewer injuries.

BOTTOM LINE: Female high school athletes who consistently used a warm-up method that includes strength-building and agility exercises and received training on proper jumping methods were less susceptible to knee and ankle injuries.

CAUTIONS: The study included just one season and the coaches reported their compliance with the program.

WHERE TO FIND IT: Archives of Pediatric & Adolescent Medicine, November 2011

Early growth pattern an indicator for childhood obesity

Children who gain weight at such a pace between their first month and age 2 that they pass two or more steps on doctors’ growth charts are more likely to become obese as older children, a study by researchers at Children’s Hospital Boston, Harvard Medical School, and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care found.

That was especially true for those infants who, in their first six months, rose two or more standardized levels in weight-for-length measurements. The measurements compare babies’ weight with that of others of the same height.

The researchers looked at electronic health records for 44,662 children seen as infants through age 5 or 10 in Eastern Massachusetts between 1980 and 2008.

Rising two levels before age 2 doubled a child’s chance of becoming obese by age 5 and increased the likelihood of obesity at age 10 by about 75 percent, the authors said.

BOTTOM LINE: Babies who rise two or more levels on their growth charts between age 1 month and 2 years are twice as likely to be obese by age 5.

CAUTIONS: The study did not account for weight gain between birth and the babies’ first well-child visit, at about 1 month. All babies included in the study had access to health insurance and primary care.

WHERE TO FIND IT: Archives of Pediatric & Adolescent Medicine, November 2011

Chelsea Conaboy can be reached at cconaboy@boston.com. Follow her on Twitter @cconaboy.

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