Dec 14, 2022
Study: Multidirectional Sports Lead to Stronger Bones

According to a recent study, young athletes develop more robust skeletons playing multidirectional sports — like soccer and basketball — than unidirectional sports like track and cross country.

The study was conducted by the University of Indiana and found that female multidirectional athletes who delay specializing in a unidirectional sport have a better chance of building thicker bone structures.

multidirectionalA recent story from detailed the study’s findings, which were published in the December issue of ‘Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.’

Below is an excerpt from the story.

The study compared two sample groups of female athletes. One was composed of those who competed in unidirectional sports, such as cross country, recreational running/jogging, swimming and/or cycling. The other was comprised of athletes who competed in the same sports but also had trained or competed in multidirectional sports.

As youth sports became more competitive, the study said, more young athletes specialized in a particular sport at a younger age to keep up with the competition, but that might not be the best route.

“There is a common misperception that kids need to specialize in a single sport to succeed at higher levels,” said Warden, the primary researcher. “However, recent data indicate that athletes who specialize at a young age are at a greater risk of an overuse injury and are less likely to progress to higher levels of competition.”

The study concluded that athletes who played basketball or soccer as kids have less risk of injury when competing in unidirectional sports at the collegiate level. Athletes who played unidirectional sports, never specialized, and continued playing multidirectional sports have thicker bones in their legs and knees.

“Our data shows that playing multidirectional sports when younger versus specializing in one sport, such as running, decreased a person’s bone injury risk by developing a bigger, stronger skeleton,” Warden said.

Researchers “want to ensure people have better, stronger bones as they grow, become adolescents, and go through life,” he said.“Specializing in one sport at too young of age means they are more likely to get injured and not make it at the collegiate and professional levels.”

To read the full story from about the study, click here. 

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