Sport is a source of national pride for Australians. And with the oldest definition of sport in English being 'pleasant pastime...involving physical exercise'i, sports today encompass anything from fencing to sky-diving to Pilates.
Twenty-first century activities reflect our different preferences for sport. Some get involved for exercise and health reasons, others see sport as a place to meet people and some are seeking an adrenaline fix. And while some sports undoubtedly have higher risk of injury than others (think cave diving and base jumping), seemingly "tamer" or harmless sports like jogging or touch football could be putting you at risk too.
Common sports & injuries
Whether it's an insufficient warm up, repetitive motion or improper sports equipment, sports-related injuries have many causes. Common sports such as football (Australian rules, league and union), soccer, basketball, netball, hockey and cricket actually account for 75% of all sports injuries in Australiaii.
For high-impact sports such as Australian Rules Football muscle strains are common, in particular hamstring strains, groin strains together with osteitis pubis, ankle sprains, quadriceps strains and calf strainsiii. In fact, in professional Australian Football League (AFL), there were 6.1 hamstring strain injuries per club (of forty people) per season in the 6 years to 2003iii. Basketball players sustain ankle injuries at a rate of 3.85 per 1,000 participantsiv and netball players are known to sustain injuries to their ankles, knees and handsv.
And runners don't get off lightly either. A 2011 paper released by the American College of Sports Medicine revealed that approximately 74% of middle-to-long distance runners experience a related injury each yearvi. In particular, the research looked at the relationship between injury incidence and the way a runner strikes the ground with their foot. Runners who rear-foot strike experience twice the rate of repetitive stress injuries than those who fore-foot strikevi. Two separate reports have noted that younger runners are more prone to fallsvii, and for every runner, common injuries include: runner's knee, Iliotibial Band Syndrome, shin splints, stress fractures, Achilles Tendinitis and moreviii. According to the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences, most running injuries are caused by running too much - too fast, too far, or too oftenix.
Dance is a fun and sociable way to get physically active. However, the range of body movements, repetition and speed of movement involved can put you at risk of an injury, particularly so for inexperienced dancersx. Injuries such as sprains and strains can occur from overstretched or twisted muscles and ligaments. Aerobics exercises are also associated with a significant number of sport injuriesx. Traumatic and overuse injuries are more commonly found in this type of sport, which can result from poor technique and practices or from wearing inappropriate footwearx.
Exercising, including participating in sports has been proven to be extremely beneficial to one's physical and mental health, social life and morexi. However you should always be mindful of the risks that come with sports: they can cause injuries and in some instances result in death or cause permanent disability. If you do get injured, seek treatment and don't skimp on rehabilitation. Always consult a medical professional if symptoms of injuries are present or persist.
To make sure you reduce the risks of injury and avoid paying large sums of money for treatment, inform yourself of the accurate ways to train and execute your activity. Wear appropriate, well-fitting shoes and clothes, keep hydrated, and make sure you perform warm-up and cool-down stretches before and after you exercise.
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i Harper, D. Online Etymology Dictionary: 'Sport', http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=sport&allowed_in_frame=0
i Caroline Finch, Giulietta Valuri, Joan Ozanne-Smith, 1998, Sport and active recreation injuries in Australia: evidence from emergency department presentations, p.220
iii Hoskins, et al., 2003, Injuries in Australian Rules Football: A review of the literature, Macquarie University, vol. 11, no. 2, http://www.researchonline.mq.edu.au/vital/access/manager/Repository/mq:8939/DS01?letter=R, p.50
iv McKay, et al., 2001, Ankle injuries in basketball: injury rate and risk factors, British Journal of Sports Medicine, vol. 35, no. 2, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1724316/, p.103-8
v McGrath, A. C., Ozanne-Smith, J., 1998, Attacking the Goal of Netball Injury Prevention: A review of the literature, Monash University Accident Research Centre, Report #130, http://www.monash.edu.au/miri/research/reports/muarc130.html
vi Daoud, A. et al., 2012, Foot strike and injury rates in endurance runners: A retrospective study, Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, vol. 44, no. 7, p. 1324-34, p.1325
vii Mehl, A., Nelson, N., and McKenzie, L., 2011, Running-related injuries in School-Age Children and Adolescents Treated in Emergency Departments from 1994 through 2007, Clinical pediatrics, vol. 50, no. 2, p. 126-32, p. 129
viii Pierce, B., Murr, S., and Moss, R., 2012, Run less, run faster, Rodale Inc., New York, p. 137
ix Deuster, P., 1997, The Navy SEAL Physical Fitness Guide, Department of Military and Emergency Medicine, p. 69
x State Government of Victoria, Better Health Channel, 2011, Dancing - preventing injury, http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/Dancing_preventing_injury
xi Brukner, P., Brown, W., 2005, Is Exercise good for you?, The Medical Journal of Australia, vol. 183, no. 10, https://www.mja.com.au/journal/2005/183/10/3-exercise-good-you, p. 538-41