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Is your sport likely to result in arthritis?

Arthritis: A woman doing ribbon gymnasticsRio 2016 concluded Sunday with Canada winning 4 gold medals, 3 silver medals, and 15 bronze medals. Athletes in the Olympics are passionate about the sport they love and have devoted their life to training and excelling in their sport. We should be reminded that the display of skills and excellence, though as entertaining and thrilling as they are to spectators, could result in arthritis for the athletes down the road as injuries progresses and frequency of injuries increase. In light of this, Arthritis Olympic Village would love to thank all the athletes who participated in the Olympic games. Your selfless, determined, and passionate attitude towards the sport you love is an inspiration to us all.

Athletes who participate in sports like football, soccer, gymnastics, basketball, skiing, snowboarding, and skateboarding, have a higher risk of developing arthritis. From 1990 to 2007 alone, over 5 million children in the United States were treated for football-related injuries in emergency rooms. Ex-footballers are at risk of developing arthritis in the spine, the knees, the ankles, the wrists, and the shoulders. Knee ligament injuries, especially in women, are common in soccer. For competitive soccer player Amy Steadman, surgery was nothing new to her. By age 20, she’s had five surgeries on her right knee.

Gymnasts, basketball players, skiers, and extreme sports enthusiasts are also at risk for developing arthritis. Gymnastics, beside hockey, has one of the highest injury rates of all sports because of the exaggerated postures and movement of the skeletal system. In basketball, athletes are prone sprained ankle and knee injuries because of the jumping, short stops, and airborne movements.

Sports that are least likely to result in arthritis include running, swimming, cycling and walking. Exercise is very important to maintain healthy joints. All sport activities have some inherent risk but these risks can be minimized by using the proper technique and getting the right treatment for injuries. When unsure, talk to your doctor or a physiotherapist to develop a personalized exercise program for you.