The prevalence and risks of injury for masters athletes : current findings
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Regular physical activity and exercise are important clinical tools that can be used to improve our health. This is especially true due to the prolonged lifespan of the average adult and the declines in physical function that are attributed to advancing age. Those functional detriments can be controlled or reversed via regular exercise, and as a result, the growth of competitive sports targeted to the elderly is on the rise. These events have created generations of Masters athletes. However, continued growth of and successful participation in these competitions may be limited by an unfounded belief that an increased risk of sports injury occurs as we age. This notion is not supported by the available scientific literature. The preponderance of epidemiological evidence demonstrates no age-associated increase in injury for Masters athletes. This remains true even when the research has focused on specific injury types such as connective tissue. To unequivocally answer question of whether elderly athletes are at a high risk of injury, future research will need to focus on providing more rigorous controls over activity levels and training status as both of these variables are likely confounding the current conclusions that can be drawn when comparing young and old athletes. It will also be beneficial to specifically study the association between altered muscle function, age and injury. This association has not been addressed within the Masters athlete population, but could provide potent insight into the aging process of habitual exercisers.