How Common Are Sports Injuries?

As Australians, we live and breathe sport. We are encouraged from a young age to get involved in many sports and other physical activities, not only is it good for our bodies but also for our minds. From walking, running and cycling to team games such as football and basketball, millions of Australians participate in regular activity on a weekly basis. With all sports though there is a risk of injury, but how often do people actually get hurt when participating in a sporting event? What types of injuries are most commonly sustained and what are the sports that cause the most pain and suffering?

Types of Sports Injuries

Most injuries are caused by over exertion, collision, or the application of force that is greater than the particular body part can structurally withstand. There are two main types of sports injuries, acute and chronic. An acute injury occurs suddenly, such as a sprained ankle caused by a wayward ball or awkward landing. Chronic injuries are mainly caused by repeated overuse of muscle groups or joints. Regardless of the situation, medical attention for any sports injury is important, because the injury may be worse than you think. For example, what you thought was a sprained ankle may actually be a bone fracture. Sprains, strains, joint injuries and nose bleeds are all very common, however fractures and soft tissue injuries are by far the most commonly reported injuries across all sports from AFL, cricket and cycling to dancing, netball and golf.

So What Are the Most ‘Dangerous’ Sports?

To measure this we need to consider the rate of cases by the number of people participating in the sport, as well as the severity of the injuries involved. According to statistics from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) Australian Rules Football and soccer have the highest number of injuries on a yearly basis, however in the case of soccer, which has by far the highest participation rate out of all the football codes, the rate of injury compared to participation rate is actually relatively low. Whilst the highest rate of injury occurs in sports that involve contact or collision, all sports have risks, even low impact sports such as golf and walking so no matter what activity you choose to participate in it’s always best to take precautions designed to help with injury prevention.

What Can We Do to Prevent an Injury?

There are quite a few measures that can be taken to help prevent an injury. Warming up is one of the best things you can do. The aim of a warm up is to raise total body temperature and muscle temperature to prepare the body and multiple body systems for vigorous activity. Five to ten minutes of low intensity activity such as walking or jogging combined with stretching is all you need to help prepare the body for exercise. Protective clothing and equipment such as helmets, ankle guards and shin pads are also great for preventing injuries. This is especially important if the sport or activity involves physical contact with other players or possible contact with hard objects. Wearing suitable footwear for the activity is also extremely important, shoes designed specifically for certain sports provide the required support to the foot and ankle. Finally, stay hydrated. Keep up your water intake regardless of the weather as dehydration can significantly reduce physical fitness and dramatically increase your risk of injury.

It’s inevitable that sometime during your sporting life you will sustain an injury to a part of your body. It’s important to seek medical attention immediately. Injuries can be far worse than you think so ensure you seek the advice of a medical professional and follow the steps required to recover as quickly as possible.

Need advice on a sporting injury? The Walking Clinic is Canberra’s leading podiatry clinic. Specialising in sports injuries and sports podiatry our friendly, professional staff offer specialist care and treatment. With three convenient locations across Canberra, make your appointment today.