Which Sport Generates the Most Injuries?

Injuries are an implicit risk in any activity. They can happen at home, while walking down the stairs at work or, of course, while doing sports and exercising.
Which Sport Generates the Most Injuries?

Last update: 20 September, 2018

When we discuss which sport generates the most injuries, we must first talk about the characteristics of each sport and then compare their injury indexes. What is an injury index? It is an average number of injuries that happen, per one thousand hours of practice, in a particular activity.

The index’s purpose is to establish the “danger level” of every sport. However, it is essential to take into account one detail: if you practice sports, you will most likely suffer from an injury sooner or later. Without exceptions. Although, some sports are more dangerous than others, for obvious reasons.

A rookie who changes sports regularly, should not risk skating or boxing without first mastering the technique. These two sports, in addition to other direct contact sports, such as rugby, or sports with a high risk of falling, such as cycling, are often the sources of injury.

Which sport generates the most injuries?

From high risk to low risk, the following list highlights which sport generates the most injuries.

1. Rugby

amateur rugby

Rugby has an injury rate of 17 for every one thousand hours of play. This is a high number, which makes sense considering the characteristics of the sport.

The direct contact, added to the particularity of the footwear, makes contusions and ligament problems very common. In rugby, just as in football, cleats are used. When athletes rotate their bodies while wearing them, these problems can occur.

2. Squash

This is not a particularly popular sport. However, squash is the root cause of many back injuries, heart problems (due to its high demand), and muscular problems. 

Squash is played in a very small space, at a very high speed and with constant directional changes. Additionally, the ball is small and can potentially impact players’ eyes. This results in around 52 percent of its enthusiasts suffering from at least one injury per year.

3. Boxing

The popular opinion is that boxing as a sport generates the most injuries. Boxing and other wrestling sports pose a massive risk of minor injuries, such as bruises or cuts. Or more serious injuries, such as broken ribs, internal bleeding, and brain damage.

Given their exposure to these problems, organizations such as the American Pediatric Association have openly requested the prohibition of this sport for adolescents. Similarly, the Sant Joan de Déu Hospital discourages the practice of boxing in infants and young people.

4. Basketball

teens playing basketball

Basketball combines certain factors that can lead to different types of injuries. In the first instance, its high physical demand can trigger muscular problems.

Secondly, the abrupt changes of speed and direction in small spaces, can cause sprains and strains. Lastly, the physical contact and the impact caused by the jumps, can negatively impact the body. The so-called “jumper’s knee” is a common problem that’s shared by both basketball, and volleyball players.

Taking all of this into consideration, and according to publications of journals specializing in sports medicine, basketball has an injury rate of about 5.2 per one thousand hours. Basketball, compared to some other sports on this list, does not pose too high a risk.

5. Running

Running is another sport that generates many injuries. On average, around 50 percent of runners suffer with an injury over the course of one year. The injury rate for this sport is between 2.5 and 12.1 injuries per one thousand race hours. The knees are usually the most vulnerable part of the body.

6. Soccer

Of course, we could not leave most people’s favorite sport off of the list. Soccer, also called football, is a sport that generates more injuries in professionals, than in amateurs. Its index is between 12.7 and 68.7 per one thousand hours of competition. 

However, in soccer training for amateur athletes, the numbers decrease considerably. In these cases, the index is between 2.3 and 7.6, per one thousand hours.

7. CrossFit

crossfit exercise

We have included this sport as low-risk, because it is currently one of the most acclaimed activities and, because of isolated incidents, has a bad reputation. The reality is, that it has an injury rate of around 3.1 per one thousand hours of training. This indicates that it is a fairly safe sport.

However, in order to maintain perfect health when doing CrossFit, you must practice the sport progressively, in regards to both technique and effort. Also, having an instructor who knows how to guide beginners will help to avoid inconveniences and associated risks.

Other sports with specific injuries

In addition to those cited, handball, tennis and golf are also worth mentioning. These sports, although not so risky in terms of injuries, can cause problems due to their technique. Thus, elbow injuries are very common in tennis, while golf leads to many back and shoulder problems.

Additionally, cyclists, handball players, and volleyball players often suffer with knee injuries. The demand and continuous movements that these sports require, (added to the constant jumps in handball and volleyball) produce a combination that’s difficult for the body to tolerate.

In conclusion, it is clear that rugby generates the most injuries. However, it is closely followed by squash and, surprisingly, running. While it is difficult to establish methods to prevent injuries in these sports, it is best to be well-prepared physically and, above all, use proper techniques when frequently practicing them.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.