Pick-up games let you pick and choose when you want to play, but you’re not excused from a related injury.

Who says you can’t have your cake and eat it, too? The pick-up approach to playing sports means you can play your favorite game – like basketball, volleyball, flag football – without the obligation and responsibilities of being on a league. We tend to like the freedom of pick-up sports. Rules are lax, there’s more of a social aspect to the game and competition, it can cost less, and you can participate when it fits your schedule.

While there might be less structure and responsibility, these amateur sports games tend to shun much of the protective equipment that would otherwise keep you safer. You might not get tackled in a game of pick-up flag football, but there are no pads or a helmet to protect you from a nasty collision with another player. According to the National Safety Council, here are the top six recreational sports that are often played as pick-up games which can result in the greatest injuries.

1. Basketball

The National Safety Council reports that more than 500,000 people had to be taken to the emergency room as a result of an injury while playing basketball in 2017. Most were treated and released, but over 7,400 or about 1.5 percent were hospitalized as a result of their injuries.

USA TODAY reports that most basketball injuries are sprains, ACL tears, or what’s known as “general trauma,” where too much stress or pressure is placed on a joint. The newspaper recommends lowering your risk of injury by keeping limber and keeping muscles strong.

2. Football

The amount of injuries from football has actually decreased over time, but the National Safety Council reports that over 341,000 people took a trip to the emergency room because of an associated injury in 2017. More than 8,000 were hospitalized because of an injury while playing football.

Flag football is one of the fastest growing sports in the country. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has published statistics saying the most common injuries are to the fingers, thumb, and wrist; followed by knee injuries. The organization concludes that most injuries are a result of not using protective equipment.

3. Soccer

The National Safety Council’s latest data shows that nearly 219,000 soccer players ended up in the emergency room because of a related injury. More than 5,300 were hospitalized.

Sports-related health website health24 says that soccer is one of the most popular amateur sports in the world. The more severe injuries associated with the sport are the result of being kicked, or from twisting your knee. Other soccer-related injuries included those related to overusing a muscle or tendon.

4. Baseball and softball

In 2017, nearly 187,450 people playing baseball or softball suffered an injury that necessitated an emergency room visit. More than 4,600 had to stay in the hospital.

An organization initiated by the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine (AOSSM) reports that softball and baseball players commonly experience back, shoulder, forearm, wrist, and hand injuries. The organization says that pitchers and catchers are equally prone to injuries. No matter what position, baseball, and softball players can experience overhead shoulder and elbow problems.

5. Lacrosse and rugby

Almost 74,000 people had their lacrosse or rugby game cut short by an injury requiring medical attention at an emergency room. More than 1,900 were hospitalized because of the injury.

The University of Pittsburgh Medical College’s sports medicine department says that lacrosse is becoming more popular because it combines elements of basketball, soccer, and hockey. Ankle and knee sprains can be common lacrosse injuries. Players may also experience lower back pain. Concussions and wrist fractures are also possible injuries.

Rugby players commonly experience muscular strains and bruising, according to UK-based website First Aid 4 Sport. Up to 25 percent of injuries occur when players of differing experience levels experience tackle, and most injuries happen during games, rather than practice.

6. Volleyball

The National Safety Council’s statistics show that more than 51,600 people found it necessary to visit the emergency room because of an injury while playing volleyball. Slightly more than 350 were hospitalized.

The University of Rochester’s sports medicine program says that most injuries related to volleyball are those caused by repetitive overhead motions that overuse muscles in the shoulder. Volleyball players also tend to have finger injuries. Rotator cuff tendinitis is a common complaint by people who play a lot of this sport.

Keeping pain out of your pick-up game

Sports activity causes its fair share of aches and pains. Although the best way to prevent injury is to wear the appropriate protective gear when you play a pick-up sport, one of the best ways to get relief from muscle pain is from a topical application. CopperGel combines the health benefits of copper with natural analgesic ingredients like camphor and menthol for fast and long-acting pain relief right at the source. It’s the perfect solution for your post-pick-up game aches and pains. Learn more about using CopperGel to Knockout The Pain®.