Friday, August 12, 2022

Most dangerous sports revealed: Expert shares injury prevention tips

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As the warm weather approaches, search interest for “summer sports near me” has surged by 60% on Google* over the past months. With an uptick in outdoor activities, this can also bring an increased risk for injuries.

Inspired, the experts at investigated athlete injury data for popular contact sports to reveal the most dangerous sport by the number of injuries per player,  as well as the most common sports injuries. To minimise injury risk this summer, a sports expert at VPS Medicine has offered his guidance.

Most dangerous sports revealed

Contact sportMost common injuryTotal injury count (2018-2022)Average injuries per player
American footballKnee6,3253.73
Ice hockeyLower body1,4642.03

With an average of 3.73 injuries per player, American football is the most dangerous contact sport of all studied, with the kneebeing the most at risk (23% of its total injuries). Seeing a total of 6,325 NFL players sustaining an injury over the last four years, this is almost double the amount of baseball injuries in second (3.72 injuries per player).

Basketball ranks as the third most dangerous, experiencing 1,523 injuries in total from 2018 to 2022 – this equates to an average of 2.82 injuries per player. Ice hockey follows closely behind with a slightly lower danger risk – 2.03 injuries per player.

Crowned the most popular sport in the world, football is the second least dangerous, experiencing only 1.66 injuries per player. Rounding off the list is rugby (1.50 injuries per player), with concussions taking up around 21% of its total injuries. .uk common sports injuries graphic1232

Most common sports injuries revealed

Area of injuryTotal injury count (2018-2022)% of total sports injuries

They also revealed that knee injury is the most common in sports, accounting for 18.08% of the total injuries. Accumulating 2,541 cases across all six sports, this is found to be the most reported among athletes in footballbasketball, and American football.

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Ankle injury is the second most common, with 1,338 incidents (9.52%) reported across all sports examined. Taking up 17% of all NBA injuries, and almost 13% of the total NFL injuriesbasketballers and American football players possess a higher risk of sustaining an ankle injury.

Merely 14 cases fewer than the ankle, shoulder injury is the third most common athletic injury (1,324). Being among the top three injuries in baseball and rugby9.42% of all sports injuries recorded are ascribed to shoulder-related injuries.

Hamstrings and elbows come as the fourth and fifth most common sporting injuries.  Easily strained under sudden changes in speed, 6.37% of total sports injuries are attributed to hamstrings, and 5.34% for elbow injuries.

Expert shares injury prevention tips

Joe Dale, sports expert and founder of VPS Medicine, offered guidance on how to minimise the risk of sports injuries, as outdoor activities kick into high gear during summer:

  1. Do your warm ups

The vast majority of minor sports-related injuries I’ve encountered could be avoided with regular and sensible warm-up regimes! This should involve dynamic stretching, which will allow the joints to become lubricated, as well as allow the tendon, muscle and ligament around the joints to get used to being stretched.

  1. Don’t forget to warm down

After completing any sporting activity, a warm-down is vital to help get rid of the waste products built up during exercise. Without a proper warm-down, the waste products such as lactic acid can linger in the muscles and lead to serious DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness).

  1. Strengthen your muscles

Spraining the ankle ligaments and hamstrings are both very common sporting injuries, but can often be prevented by strengthening the appropriate muscles. Hence, it’s vital to spend some time in the gym strengthening the muscles that you’ll be using – the stronger your muscles are, the more easily they can protect the surrounding joint.

  1. Build up slowly

If you haven’t exercised for a long time, don’t be tempted to think that you can start at the level you did as a 16-year-old. Even if you’ve kept fit in other ways, each sport is unique in the way it uses the joints and muscles – so build up slowly and try taking it gently for the first couple of sessions to allow your body to adapt.


  1. were keen to uncover the most common physical injuries in different sports.
  2. Firstly, the experts built a seed list of popular sports, considering only those categorised as contact or collision sports.

a.  Only sports with available data were selected for the study: Football (Premier League data), Baseball (MLB data), Basketball (NBA data), Rugby (Super Rugby data), American football (NFL data), Ice hockey (NHL data).

  1. Athlete injury data was collated from reputable sports websites as well as fantasy league injury trackers, to identify the different types of sports injuries which occurred over four years between 2018 and 2022.

a.  Due to more recent football injury data being infeasible to collect, 2017 figures were taken into account for football to achieve a similar sample size across all sports.

  1. Subsequently, scrutinised the data set and removed entries of players who had the same injury within one year for accuracy. All players were grouped based on their injury types.
  2. The total occurrence of each injury type was calculated, and was ranked descendingly to reveal the most common sports injuries.
  3. Next, analysed multiple online sites and acquired the number of players in each of the sports leagues examined.

a.  Data sources: Premier League (2022), Major League Baseball (2021), National Basketball Association (2021), Super Rugby (2022), National Football League (2021), National Hockey League (2021/2022).

  1. By dividing the total injury count in each sport by the amount of players, the average number of injuries per player was obtained. This was then further ranked from highest to lowest to identify which of the six contact sports studied is the most dangerous.
  2. All data was collected from May 19th 2022 to May 26th 2022 and is accurate as of then.

[Where some data is crowdsourced by fans, please take note that figures may not be 100% accurate.]

*In the past 90 days, according to Google Trends on 14/07/2022.

Read: Will Rafael Nadal quit Tennis due to his recent foot injury?

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Rahul Roy
Rahul Roy
I am a computer guy by profession and a sports fanatic by choice.


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