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Sports Injuries Raise Cost of Active Life

Is Injury the Price of a Healthy Lifestyle

Sports Injuries Hurt Adults, Too continued...

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.

"So the adult athlete doesn't have the flexibility they had when they were younger, they don't have the strength training, and their aerobic capacity is at a couch potato level," Schriner tells WebMD. "The adult athlete only remembers what the coach told him in high school, and he's unsupervised, so he goes out willy-nilly."

Schriner recommends the following steps to reduce the risk of sports-related injuries:

  • Before starting a new physical activity, prepare yourself with some aerobic, strength, and flexibility training.
  • Invest in a good pair of athletic shoes designed to provide the right kind of support for the particular activity or sport.
  • Find out what safety equipment is available for the activity, and use it.
  • Get some coaching. Check out books and magazines that provide training tips and instruction, or consult a professional sports trainer or coach for a lesson.

Gilchrist says various federal agencies, including the CDC, also have guidelines on how to get started with a new physical activity or sport. But she says many sports injuries among adults could be prevented if parents simply followed the same safety rules as their children, such as wearing a helmet while bicycling.

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