COLUMBUS, Ohio, July 26 (UPI) -- Football, one of the most popular U.S. sports, is the leading cause of high school sports injuries, said a Columbus Children's Hospital study.
During the 2005-2006 season, high school football players sustained more than 500,000 injuries nationally, according to researchers at Columbus Children's Hospital.
The study, published in the August issue of The American Journal of Sports Medicine, found four out of every 1,000 high school football exposures resulted in an injury, while eight out of every 1,000 collegiate football exposures resulted in an injury.
Although National Collegiate Athletic Association football players were twice as likely to sustain an injury as high school football players, high school football players sustained a greater proportion of season-ending injuries, fractures and concussions compared with collegiate football players.
"While football does have a high rate of injuries, injuries don't have to be just part of the game," study co-author Christy Collins said in a statement. "There are ways to reduce the number and severity of football injuries through targeted interventions. Because we observed high levels of ankle and knee injuries, we recommend increased conditioning of ankles and knees and rule changes aimed at protecting these vulnerable body sites."
In addition, most of the leg and foot injuries were due to ligament sprains; targeted stretching exercises may also be beneficial, according to Collins.