To compile the content for this resource, we reviewed the published research for each sport and recreational activity, including injury incidence and rates, common areas of the body that are injured, risk factors for injury, and prevention strategies.
In the section, “How can I prevent injury?”, our goal is to provide evidence-informed recommendations for injury prevention; however, for some sports and recreational activities we found limited evidence supporting specific programs or ways to prevent injury. In these cases, recommendations for the prevention of injury were made based on activities that have similar movement patterns, or those that have similar types of injury.
The sections titled “Other Considerations” include useful information not found in the research literature but are recommended by experts in each sport or activity (e.g., local organizations, health experts).
The information in the section, “How can I prevent injury?” is relevant to everyone, but some information is most appropriate to people in specific roles. Where applicable, we have included information that is personalized for your role in sports and recreational activities:
We recognize that you might fall under more than one of these categories depending on the activity or sport; browse all of the Prevention section and encourage your colleagues, fellow participants, and patients to do the same.
For this project, a list of sports and recreational activities was generated by stakeholders and researchers that: a) promoted healthy lifestyles, b) were likely to be offered or supported in schools and community organizations, and c) have higher rates of injury. If you do not see a specific activity and think it should be considered for the website, please contact us with your suggestion.
The prevention measures outlined in this website are recommendations for reducing the risk of sport and recreational injury. Although some injuries may still occur despite our best efforts to prevent them, the severity of the injury and length of time away from the activity is often reduced when appropriate prevention strategies are used. Before engaging in any activity, it is a good idea to be familiar with the equipment, rules, and regulations.
You should be aware of your physical abilities and fitness level before starting any new activity; a preparticipation physical assessment ensuring fitness to play can help to reduce your risk of injury. Some muscle soreness or joint pain is expected when increasing your level of physical activity. It is important to listen to your body for persistent or worsening pain, and to know when to rest.
It is a good idea to be familiar with the equipment, rules, and regulations before starting any sport or recreational activity. Learn about the injury profiles and prevention strategies specific to your sport or recreational activity.
You should be aware of your physical abilities and fitness level; a preparticipation physical assessment ensuring fitness to play can help you understand your abilities. Although muscle soreness or joint pain is expected when increasing your level of physical activity, it is important to listen to your body for persistent or worsening pain, and to know when to rest.
Studies have been conducted to show the protective effect (i.e., things that can reduce the risk of injury) of wearing equipment in sport and recreational activity. We have included research findings on the effectiveness of protective equipment in the activities where it is available, such as helmets, goggles, wristguards, and mouthguards.
It is true that helmets do not prevent concussions. A concussion is caused by the brain moving within the skull as the result of an impact to the head or other part of the body. Current research is looking into how helmets might reduce the forces that affect this movement and reduce the incidence of concussion; however, this work is still in progress.
It is important to wear a helmet to protect yourself from lacerations and severe head injury such as skull fractures and traumatic brain bleeds. Ensuring that you have the appropriate helmet for the sport or activity, and that it is in good condition and fits correctly, can decrease the risk of a head injury.
Acute injuries are those that happen from a single event, such as a broken arm from a fall, an ankle sprain from twisting your foot, or a shoulder dislocation from running into another player.
Overuse injuries occur from repeated actions of a specific body part, such as tennis elbow, runner’s knee, Achilles tendinitis, and shin splints.
For more information on overuse and acute injuries, visit the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine.
It can be difficult to promote a culture of safety, where the emphasis is on the safety of the participants rather than the outcome of the activity. Attitudes towards sport and recreational activity can influence the risk of injury and the success of prevention strategies. Cultures of “playing through pain” can increase the risk of severe injury and result in longer recovery periods. This is especially dangerous with brain injury, including concussion.
To convince others to take injury seriously, you can support learning more about injury risk, prevention, and recovery—an informed individual is more likely to follow prevention and recovery advice after an injury. Supporting a positive environment for reporting injuries sooner, whether they are acute or overuse, can make the biggest difference in preventing more serious outcomes.
As an evidence-based resource, Active & Safe Central has a responsibility to report recommendations for injury prevention with a solid backing of research evidence. Overall, there is a limited amount of published research on sport and recreational activity-related injury among individuals with disabilities. Of these, there is a large amount of variability in study methodology and in the definition of disability. For these reasons, we did not feel confident in including injury prevention information on adapted sports from the available data.
We are currently putting together a summary of our findings for injury prevention in adapted sport; it will be available shortly.
Although the types of injury vary by activity and risk factors such as sex, level of experience, and level of competition, some activities have higher incidences of injury than others.
Contact and combat sports, such as ice hockey, rugby, mixed martial arts (MMA), and boxing have a higher risk of injury. Scuba diving injuries are relatively rare, but can be quite severe, including decompression sickness and drowning. Yoga and snowshoeing are two activities with low incidences of injury. Be familiar with the risk of injury for your sport or recreational injury.