Off-duty injuries sideline Soldiers

United States Army—September 24, 2012

Quick: Which of these activities injured more Soldiers in 2011: weapons firing, parachuting or off-duty sports?

If you picked sports, you'd be correct. Army accident data show that snowboarding and skiing produce the most injuries of all off-duty sports activities, followed closely by touch football.

Players, regardless of age, need to warm up and be prepared for any physical activity, including touch or flag football. Just because it isn't a full contact sport doesn't mean it's injury free.

Dr. Brian C. Halpern, associate attending physician and clinical associate professor in medicine, Hospital for Special Surgery, New York, said preparing for the activity is a "primary goal."

"The different injury types are numerous, and prevention should be a primary goal. Begin a preseason conditioning program that includes stretching, strengthening and cardiovascular conditioning," he said. "Other more specific measures, as outlined in the Air Force study, include implementing and enforcing rules to minimize contact, training to improve balance, improving the playing field conditions, and, if necessary, protecting previously injured areas with bracing.

"At the end of the day, flag football should be fun, and participation is the best reward."

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