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Sports Injuries: What are the Most Dangerous Sports in the UK?

Sports Injuries: What are the Most Dangerous Sports in the UK?

Back in 2018, we analysed interesting official data on sports-related injuries in the US. Based on ER admissions per 1,000 people, research from the National Health Statistics Report revealed which sports are the most dangerous in America - with some surprising results!

Not only were the traditionally ‘aggressive’ sports not the most dangerous, but golf came in above the likes of rugby, hockey, volleyball and even combative sports. In fact, golf had an injury rate of 1.8 per 1,000 players compared to 1.5 for rugby, hockey and volleyball, or 1.2 for combative sports.

Interested in these results, we were intrigued to find out whether the same was true for sports in the UK. By surveying 5,732 British sports lovers*, we set out to see if golf is just as dangerous here as it is across the pond.

What are the most dangerous sports in the UK?

Our research reveals that, regardless of the time or country it’s played in, golf remains a dangerous sport.

When respondents were asked to choose which sports they’d been injured in whilst playing, 71% chose football, crowning the sport as the most dangerous of all.

As the nation’s favourite sport, it comes as no surprise that millions of football-mad Brits have sustained injuries at some point in their lives.

Basketball is the second most dangerous sport in the UK, with 69% sustaining an injury whilst playing. The fast-paced and dynamic nature always requires players to be on their toes, explaining the high probability of getting hurt.

In third place is hockey, with 68% claiming injuries, and golf claims fourth! Whether it’s pain from the miss-hit of a driver, or being struck by a golf ball, a rate of 66% shows it’s not the laid-back sport many believe it to be, thus mirroring our previous research in America, with golf maintaining a higher injury probability than rugby, tennis and cycling.

Other dangerous sports making up the top ten include:

  • American football (63%)
  • Rugby (61%)
  • Tennis (57%)
  • Badminton/squash (57%)
  • Cycling (55%)
  • Athletics (50%)

Consider the graphic opposite and compare with other dangerous sports to see where your favourite lies.

Further survey results

When asked for the main causes of their injuries, the majority of Brits cited "someone else’s carelessness". With 63% choosing this, it seems our biggest  fear when playing sports is each other!

Other causes include:

  • Self-inflicted – 47%
  • Equipment/objects – 35%
  • Nature of the game (e.g. contact sports) – 19%
  • Lack of rules/safety protocols – 14%

Of the injuries sustained whilst playing, respondents stated that a whopping three in five (62%) of these injuries required a visit to the hospital or GP.

Are British lovers of sports more careful following an incident? Apparently not. When asked if they would take more care after recovering from an injury, a whopping 61% said no – only 39% said yes! We think it might be worth practicing at home first to avoid more accidents...

We were also intrigued to discover whose responsibility the public feel it is to ensure safety in sports across the nation. Most Brits say the individual playing should look out for themselves (50%), followed by the sports facility or business(40%), and some even believing the burden lies on the Government (9%).

Which injuries are most common in golf?

For fellow golf lovers, we wanted to delve further into game-specific injuries to help us fine-tune our performances. Of those who favour golf, we asked which areas of their bodies have been injured most during play, and the most common answer was their back (65%). As posture is a fundamental factor of great swings, so it’s no surprise that repetitive back strain, especially if done wrong, can lead to serious damage.

Back problems were followed by elbow injuries (59%) more commonly known as ‘golfer’s elbow’. Next was the shoulder (54%), wrist (47%) and knee (32%).

golf is one of the most dangerous sports - here's how to reduce the risk of injury
Photo credit: StudioByTheSea / Shutterstock

How to prevent sports injuries

Avoiding injury can not only keep you safe but also improve your game. GolfSupport’s MD, Gary Swift, has offered some words of wisdom to help golfers swing into the next level:

1. Master your stance

The entire body is used to execute a golf swing, so swinging continually with the wrong posture can build up serious pain. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and pointed slightly outwards, and keep your knees bent. The spine should be as straight as possible to avoid back and neck strain, but a slight bend at the top is fine.

2. Don't swing too hard

Power is important in a game, but too much will cause unnecessary stress in the joints. The most important thing to aim for in a swing is one continuous, fluid motion. That way you can generate power that is consistent and not jolty.

3. Warm up appropriately

It may be a relatively low-impact sport, but golf still requires a warm-up. You’d be surprised at how many muscles are required in the game, so some brief, all-rounded exercises should help to prepare them. A 10 minute brisk walk with a few practice swings should do the trick. Remember to stretch all of your muscles  too!

4. Tailor workouts

If you enjoy working out alongside a game of golf, it can be beneficial to tailor your routine to help you on the green. Specific routines will vary depending on your goals or weaknesses, but simple tasks like ankle training with resistance bands and shoulder weight workouts can strengthen the areas most susceptible to damage.

Golf is a fantastic sport when the right precautions are taken. It allows you to get fit, make new friends and discover some beautiful places, and following these tips could help you to become the master of the green you’ve always hoped for.

* Please note: This survey was conducted in August 2020 and collated to write up in this blog post. Survey respondents were from all areas of the UK.

Feature image credit: Elnur / Shutterstock