Most Dangerous Sports: Basketball, Cycling

Get in Shape, Get Proper Training to Avoid Sports Injuries

From the WebMD Archives

Aug. 6, 2004 -- Here's a heads up: Basketball and cycling are the most injury-prone sports, a new report shows. Football and soccer are close behind in sports injuries.

The report from the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) shows that 1.6 million basketball-related injuries were treated last year -- in hospitals, doctors' offices, ambulatory surgery centers, clinics, and hospital emergency rooms.

Bicyclists racked up nearly 1.3 million injuries; football scored 1 million; soccer tallied a little less than 500,000 injuries.

"The summer Olympic games may inspire people to try a new sport. ... But before they do, people need proper training and conditioning to reduce their risk [of sports injuries]," says Pietro Tonino, professor of orthopaedic surgery at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, in a news release.

Tonino was not involved with the CPSC report, but offered words of advice.

Many sports injuries can be prevented by knowing and playing by the game rules, being physically fit, and wearing protective gear, he adds. "This applies to children as well as adults."

Women and girls are two to eight times more likely to have knee injuries -- such as torn or sprained ligaments, he explains.

Ligaments are rope-like bundles of fibrous tissue which connect structures. The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in the center of the knee connects the shin bone to the thigh bone. It can be injured when an athlete jumps, lands, twists, pivots, or suddenly stops, he explains. Basketball, soccer, football, volleyball, running, and skiing all involve these movements.

"Females tend to land from a jump with their knees locked, which puts added pressure on the knee," says Tonino. The resulting sports injury can be a sprain or tear of the ligament.

Slightly bending the knees and hips when landing will reduce injury risk. Playing on even surfaces, rather than something like sand, also decreases sports injuries.

Although injured ligaments can be surgically repaired, recovery and rehabilitation take the athlete out of the game for months, he says. Nonsurgical treatment is available for mild sports injuries but preventing injuries in the first place is the goal, Tonino says.

SOURCE: Loyola University Health System press release.