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Sports Injuries Hurt Adults, Too continued...

Males had nearly twice the rate of sports injuries compared with females, and most injuries occurred at a sports facility (31%), at school (20%), or around the home (17%). Sports injuries were most often the result of being struck by an object, falling, or overextension of a joint or muscle.

Nearly two-thirds of those sports injuries were reported among people between the ages of 5 and 24, and injury rates were highest among the 5- to 14-year-old age group, with an average of 59 injuries per 1,000 children.

But one-fourth of the sports-related injuries occurred among adults 25-44 years old, an age group commonly overlooked by most injury prevention efforts, says Gilchrist. The type of sport or recreational activity responsible for the highest number of injuries also varied by age, and the top five injury-causing activities among the three age groups studied were:

  • 5-14 years -- Pedal cycling, basketball, football, playground equipment, baseball/softball
  • 15-24 years -- Basketball, football, exercising, soccer, recreational sports
  • Over 25 years -- Recreational sports, exercising, basketball, pedal cycling, baseball/softball

Recreational sports include racquet sports such as tennis and badminton, as well as golf, fishing, hunting, hiking, mountain climbing, and other non-team leisure sports.

Taking the Aches and Pains out of Physical Activity

To reduce the risk of sports-related injuries while still reaping the benefits of an active, healthy lifestyle, Gilchrist says it's important for adults to pick a recreational activity or sport that's appropriate for their physical capabilities, age, competition level, and skill.

But sports injury specialist Jon Schriner, DO, says many adult athletes seem to be stuck in a 16-year-old mindset, which can put them at risk.

"They play like they are 16, but excuse me, you're 30, 40, 50, etc." says Schriner, who is medical director of the Michigan Center for Athletic Medicine in Flint, Mich. "So they play with the same vigor forever, and you can't tell an active person to back off."

He says the big issue between the recreational adult athlete and younger athletes who play in supervised sports is in the level of preparticipation preparation and supervision they receive. Before student athletes step on the playing field under the coach's supervision, they usually receive aerobic conditioning, strength training, and flexibility training.

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