Which Sports Have the Most Injuries? Here’s How Athletes Can Stay Safe

sports injuries

Competitive sports are a great way to stay in shape. But it’s important to take the proper precautions in order to avoid injury.

Participating in your favorite sports boosts your physical fitness — but it can also lead to injury. That’s why it’s essential to understand common injuries that affect athletes in order to stay safe on the playing field.

A 2019 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reviewed the number of emergency room visits due to sports injuries for people ages 5 to 24 between 2010 and 2016. Of those nearly 2.7 million annual emergency room visits, football ranked first with 14.1 percent of all injuries, followed by basketball (12.5 percent), cycling (9.9 percent), soccer (7.1 percent), and ice skating, roller skating, or skateboarding (6.9 percent).

Given these stats, here are some important guidelines to help you avoid common sports injuries.

Common Orthopedic Injuries By Sport

Each sport presents a unique set of risks depending on the muscles and ligaments used to compete. Here is a rundown of which injuries are most likely to occur in popular sports like basketball, soccer, and baseball:

  • Basketball. The jumping and pivoting in basketball puts excessive stress on the ligaments and tendons in the knees. If you suddenly change direction during a game, you could tear the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). Another common basketball injury is patellar tendonitis, or “jumper’s knee.” This injury occurs when the patellar tendon that connects the kneecap to the shinbone becomes irritated and inflamed.
  • Soccer. Running on a soccer field provides a great cardiovascular workout. Yet, your legs and feet take on the brunt of the strain from sprinting. Soccer-related injuries typically involve tears or sprains of the hamstring — the tendon running from the back of the thigh to the knee flexor muscles. Calf muscle strains as well as plantar fasciitis (an inflammation of the band of tissue connecting the heel of the foot to the toes) frequently strike soccer players, as well.
  • Baseball/Softball. Throwing a baseball and swinging a bat are repetitive motions that can cause overuse injuries in the shoulders and back. That’s why baseball and softball players are prone to tears of the rotator cuff in the shoulder and the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) in the elbow. At the plate, the torque of swinging a bat may displace a vertebra in the lower back, causing a condition known as spondylolisthesis. Pain in the lower back and weakness in the legs are common symptoms of this condition. 

Playing it Safe

Preventing sports injuries boils down to a few key measures that can go a long way. Here are four tips to avoid sore muscles and possible injury.

  1. Warm Up. Your muscles need time to loosen up before you head to the field. Light warm-ups that emphasize stretching and building up muscle strength prepare you for the game ahead.
  2. Perfect Your Technique. Many sports injuries result from improper form. In baseball, for example, if your throwing or batting mechanics are out of sync, you’re putting unnecessary strain on your body. Work with a trainer or coach who can help you perfect your technique so you’re able to reduce your risk of injury.
  3. Suit Up Properly. Playing it safe begins at the feet with supportive, well-fitting footwear. An orthopedic specialist can also evaluate your walk to see if you’re rolling your feet properly when you touch the ground. If not, your stride can be corrected with orthotics or ankle bracing. Some sports may require special equipment, such as protective knee braces, that provide extra support to your joints.
  4. Know When to Quit. Your competitive nature may push you to play when you’re hurt, but your body needs time to recover from any vigorous workout. Ignoring pain could also set you up for a serious injury down the road. If your pain lingers even after a period of rest, take it as a sign to see a doctor.

Keeping Athletes on the Playing Field

At New York Bone & Joint Specialists, we’re experts in treating a wide variety of sports-related orthopedic injuries with physical therapy, surgery, or other individualized solutions. We’ll diagnose your injury and prescribe a treatment plan that will get you back on the playing field as soon as possible. Contact us today to set up an appointment.

Book an appointment

Our Locations