In 1972, the United States Congress passed Title IX, a law that aimed to guarantee gender equality in athletics. Since then, schoolgirls have become major players in the world of sports. While Title IX was a huge stride in women's rights, author Michael Sokolove says there is a major consequence to the onslaught of girls playing sports—injuries. Dr. Oz talks talks with Michael about his book Warrior Girls: Protecting Our Daughters Against the Injury Epidemic in Women's Sports.
Michael says the genetic differences between boys and girls is a major reason why girls may suffer more sports-related injuries than boys. "When boys and girls hit puberty, the boys get stronger—sometimes with virtually no effort of their own," he says. "Girls do not get stronger." Instead, they become more flexible, and Michael says the combination of less strength, more flexibility and playing a sport five times or more a week makes girls more susceptible to knee, ankle, hip and back injuries.
Another reason girls may suffer more sports injuries is because Michael says girls are more likely to ignore their pain than boys are. "What I found was a lot of girls playing through more pain and more injury than they should play through because they don't want to let anyone down," he says.
Michael says there are things parents can do to help curb the injuries their daughters may receive while playing sports.
Don't let your daughter play the same sport year-round. "If you wanted to injure a young athlete—particularly a young woman—you would take away all of her sports before puberty except her best sport, and you would have her play it to excess and just wait," he says.
Have a conversation with your daughter's coach about your concerns. "A lot of people are taking the book [Warrior Girls] and they're giving it to their kid's coaches to start a conversation which is otherwise hard to have," he says.
Look into programs that teach girls how to move differently to avoid injury. "These programs are very impolitic in a way,” Michael says. “The experts teach girls to run more like a boy. It's not a cure-all for everything; it's preventative medicine.”
Printed from Oprah.com on Sunday, December 8, 2013