“Physical activity is commonly recommended for children and adults,” Driban said. For people who want the health benefits of sport participation, but are worried about the risk of knee arthritis, they may want to choose non-contact and low-impact sports where the risk of injury is lower, such as swimming and cycling, he said.
“For people playing sports like soccer, where injuries are common, it is important that they encourage their teams to adopt injury prevention programs into their warm-ups,” he added. “These 10-15 minute programs can prevent over 40 percent of injuries, which could help keep athletes active and reduce the risk of the long-term consequences of joint injuries.”
In a setting where the athlete, coach and parents are “focused on today,” Driban said, “it is important that the certified athletic trainers and other sports medicine professionals be the ones thinking about the athlete’s health tomorrow.”
“Knee injuries are the greatest risk factor for developing osteoarthritis, whether you are an athlete or not,” said Dr. Robert Brophy from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri, who has extensively studied knee osteoarthritis and various aspects of sports and recreation injuries.
“This emphasizes the importance of injury prevention programs and optimal management of knee injuries once they occur,” said Brophy, who was not involved in the current study.
“I do not think there is enough data supporting these findings to make any recommendations regarding participation of non-elite athletes in sports,” he said in an email. “The documented benefits of physical activity and participation in sports far outweigh the evidence presented by this study.”
J Athl Train 2017.