Study co-author Tracey Covassin, a certified athletic trainer at Michigan State University, said overuse injuries tend to occur gradually and are caused by repeated small injuries, without a single, identifiable event responsible for the injury, in sports such as long-distance running, rowing and swimming.
By comparison, injuries occurring in high-speed and full-body-contact sports are more likely to be acute injuries, which result from a specific and identifiable event.
The study sample consisted of 573 male and female collegiate athletes from an NCAA Division I institution participating in 16 team sports. Study participants reported 1,317 injuries during a three-year period.
The study published in the Journal of Athletic Training said of total injuries, 29.3 percent were overuse injuries and 70.7 percent were acute.
A total of 319 male athletes sustained 705 injuries, and 254 female athletes sustained 612 injuries, the study said.
Wrestling, football, women's soccer and other contact sports were associated with a higher acute injury risk; while overuse injuries were found more frequently in rowing, softball, volleyball, cross country, track and field and other low-contact sports.
However, women's field hockey, soccer, softball and volleyball had the highest rates of overuse-injury rates, Covassin said.