Sports, Recreation & Exercise Injuries


Running Back Carrying Ball73% of Sports, Recreation & Exercise injuries occur in people under 25 years of age.

“Injuries are also a leading reason people stop participating in potentially beneficial physical activity.” (1)  If we can reduce injury rates, we can increase the number of people who continue exercising.  To achieve that, it will help to know:

  1. What types of injuries are happening
  2. Why they are happening
  3. How to prevent them from happening

General Statistics for Sports, Recreation & Exercise Injuries

  • Sports, recreation & exercise (SRE) injuries account for 20% of the 3.7 million annual emergency department (ED) visits.
  • Children under 15 account for 40% of SRE related ED visits
  • Adolescent & young adults under 25 account for 33% of SRE related ED visits.
  •  A large and unknown number of SRE related injuries are treated in primary care offices or at home.
  • Drowning – 2nd leading cause of injury or death for children under 14
  • 8 most common athletic injuries – ankle sprains, anterior cruciate ligament sprain (knee), plantar fasciitis (foot), quadriceps & hamstring strains, hip bursitis, low back strain, lateral epicondylitis (tennis elbow)

Prevention Strategies

These fall broadly into 3 categories:

  • SRE Environment – Education about the potential hazards of each SRE environment (i.e. avalanche, water hazards) and improving the activity’s environments (i.e. fencing around pools, playing surfaces, road sides).
  • Equipment – Improving protective capabilities
  • Personal Preparation – SRE skill development and physical (nutritional, cardiovascular, muscle strength, detoxification, etc).

Individuals have more direct control over some prevention strategies compared to others (nutrition and training vs. environment & equipment design).  One area in particular that would benefit from additional attention is muscle strength development that pays focuses on developing muscle strength in a balanced manner.  Research has shown that joints with unequal development of strength for all the muscles crossing a joint have increased rates of tissue damage and injury rates.  Increased injury rates are also experienced when muscle strength difference from one side of the body compared to the same muscle on the opposite side differs by more than 10%.

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