According to the Sports Council, almost 19 million injuries happen on the track or field every year. Check out the five most dangerous popular sports, and get tooled up with the right protection.
Rugby, football and hockey
Due to the physical nature of the sport, rugby is 50% more dangerous than football or hockey. The legs are most vulnerable, making pulled hamstrings, torn knee cartilage and shin splints particularly common with all three sports. More dangerous are back injuries such as vertebrae displacement. Consider shin and mouth guards, as well as properly fitted footwear.
A new entry in the danger stakes, largely down to the off-road bike phenomenon. In a recent stateside survey, one in five mountain bikers end up needing medical attention each year. Head over the handlebars and you risk concussion, lacerations, fractures, and wrist and shoulder injuries. At the very least, don't swing onto that saddle without properly fitted headgear.
Any bloke whose bollocks have got in the way of a speeding cricket ball will tell you the pain can last long after the final wicket. Bat without a box and at the very least you risk major public indignity. A helmet with a face guard may also save you from a broken nose or missing teeth.
Playing squash, tennis or badminton carries the risk of tennis elbow - inflammation and soreness caused by overworking the muscles on the back of your forearm. While complete rest of the arm is recommended, a support strap can be used to keep the area compressed during play.
Shoes are possibly the most important item of equipment you need to reduce the chance of injury in any sport. For running, a decent pair should offer good shock absorbency and stability. Poor footwear carries the risk of Achilles tendonitis (inflammation of the heel) and ankle sprains.
Preparing for all sports
50% of all sports injuries are down to not warming up and down properly. Whatever sport you play, spend between five and 10 minutes beforehand (and afterwards) doing gentle stretching exercises. Focus in particular on movements used for the sport itself. Also try heat treatment creams or spray to relieve muscle aches, sprains or strains.
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