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Football, running and rugby revealed to carry the greatest risk of injury in new Benenden research

5th August 2016

New Benenden research has revealed that traditionally ‘dangerous’ sports such as boxing and rugby do not actually result in more injuries than ‘safer’ sports such as running, football and cycling, (despite the UK public believing that they do.)

Research released today by Benenden quizzed people who have taken part in a range of sports, from tennis to martial arts, on which injuries they have sustained when taking part in these activities - and despite early diagnosis and treatment being key to a full recovery - why many of them did not seek medical advice.

Off the mark: which sports the public believe to be the most dangerous (in order of most dangerous to least dangerous):

  1. Boxing 41.9%
  2. Rugby 19.1%
  3. Horse riding 13.5%
  4. Martial arts (Judo, Karate, Taekwondo, etc.) 5.9%
  5. Weightlifting/bodybuilding 5.7%
  6. Football 3.4%
  7. Hockey 2.3%
  8. Gymnastics 1.8%
  9. Cycling 1.5%
  10. Running 1.0%


The reality: sports most likely to cause injuries according to the research (in order of most likely to least likely):

  1. Football 18.9%
  2. Running 9.4%
  3. Rugby 4.9%
  4. Cycling (track, road) 4.5%
  5. Swimming 3.2%
  6. Weightlifting / bodybuilding 3.0%
  7. Tennis 2.8%
  8. Martial arts (Judo, Karate, Taekwondo, etc.) 2.8%
  9. Horse riding 2.6%
  10. Badminton 2.3%


Whilst parents stress their outrage at a generation of children addicted to screens, the findings also show that it’s not just iPads stopping children from getting their knees dirty outdoors. Parents admit that they actively dissuade their child from playing what they would consider to be ‘dangerous sports’. Top of the list were boxing (74 percent), weightlifting (29 percent) and rugby (37 percent) whilst gentler activities such as table tennis and badminton proved to be the sport of choice for paranoid parents.

Despite common misconceptions, football is revealed to be the UK’s most dangerous sport with 1 in 5 admit to having suffered a serious injury whilst playing. People are six times more likely to suffer an injury playing football than initially perceived and injuries most likely to occur include a sprained ankle (40 percent), knee injury (32 percent) and concussion (13 percent). Despite the popular belief that rugby is one of the most brutal UK sports, the study shows that people are four times more likely to suffer an injury playing football.

Lazy attitudes towards personal well-being and health are revealed in people’s poor attitudes to seeking appropriate medical care. 1 in 5 admit that they ‘couldn’t be bothered’ to seek medical help and a third (29 percent) are still suffering as a consequence.

However, the blame does not solely lie with those who have been injured. 1 in 5 state that they weren’t informed of available ongoing treatment options such as physiotherapy by medical professionals, 1 in 10 didn’t realise that physiotherapy was even available on the NHS and 15 percent weren’t told that they needed physiotherapy. With half of those surveyed feeling that their suffering would be considerably reduced if they had received physiotherapy, it’s clear that there’s an obvious gap in the treatment of commonplace such as sprained ankles, within the NHS.

Commenting on the findings of the report, Jane Abbott, Hospital Director at Benenden, said: “Of course all sports carry a certain amount of risk. However, the benefits of a healthy, active lifestyle far outweigh the risk of injury, which can be greatly reduced through proper training and warm-ups. When participating in new sporting activities, you should set yourself incremental goals. For example, do not immediately set out to run five miles a day; instead, gradually build up your mileage on a weekly basis. Ensuring you have a varied exercise schedule and a healthy, nutrient-rich diet can also help to reduce your chances of injury.

“It’s concerning to see that the public is taking part in these sports but not taking responsibility for injuries incurred whilst playing. If pain or swelling occurs, immediately stop the activity and rest for a few days. If pain persists, stop exercising and seek medical attention. It’s extremely important to remember that if you recognise symptoms early and treat them appropriately, your recovery should be uncomplicated and successful.”

Ends