The Most Dangerous Sports for Your Spine

With Super Bowl Sunday coming up this weekend, an awful lot of us are thinking about football.

While our thoughts this weekend will likely focus on the fun, the competition, the nachos… there are also serious questions about the impact football has on the body and—specifically—the spinal cord.

As an an orthopedic spine surgeon, I thought I’d address a question I am often asked by patients, friends and family:

What sports are the most dangerous sports for your spinal cord?

After having researched this quite a bit, my personal list, in no particular order, is below. And, yes, you’ll see that football is, in fact, on it:

  • Ice hockey
  • Football
  • Lacrosse
  • Wrestling
  • Rugby
  • Horseback riding
  • Rodeo sports
  • Gymnastics
  • Cycling
  • Moped/ATV sports
  • Cheerleeding

While I did say that list was in no particular order, I will note that rugby may well deserve to be at the top of the list. Literature from the United Kingdom (where rugby is highly popular) suggests that the sport might be the most dangerous of all sports given the lack of protective equipment and the “scrum” where players aggressively push against each other in an attempt to get the ball.

Keep in mind, of course, that exercising is a great way to strengthen your core muscles and keep your spine healthy–particularly back exercises. While some sports present risk to your spinal cord, that risk should not be a deterrent from leading a healthy and active lifestyle.

If you incur an spinal injury due to any of these sports–or otherwise–you are always welcome to reach out to Second Opinion Spine for a reliable, affordable second opinion.

Stay safe and enjoy the Super Bowl!

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