Spinal cord injuries can be catastrophic. It’s true that people can often recover and live with minor injuries, but more severe ones can change their lives forever, and never in a positive way.

There are many ways you can injure your spine. You can have a slip-and-fall accident, or car crashes are another major contributor. However, you can also damage your spine quite easily by playing sports.

Let’s talk about five of the sports that most often cause spinal cord injuries.


Americans love football, as the huge TV ratings every Sunday during the season prove. However, whenever a player steps on the field, it’s not hyperbolic to say that they’re risking their lives. On the football field, one mistake can result in irreparable damage to the spinal cord.

This is because:

  • The men playing it are big and strong
  • Those who play it collide with each other at top speed

If you watch a football game, and you see a big hit replay, you’ll witness tremendous impact. It’s like watching a slow-motion car wreck.

You might find football entertaining, but it’s hard not to watch it without shuddering sometimes. It’s a violent ballet, and often, medical staff must cart those who participate off the field.


Some people aren’t sure about describing NASCAR as a sport, since it’s essentially just cars driving around in a circle. However, regardless of how you classify it, there’s no denying the danger.

You can easily injure your spinal cord as a NASCAR driver because:

  • The cars travel at top speeds
  • The vehicles often smash into each other

NASCAR drivers can collide with one another at speeds of over 100 miles per hour. If a car traps you as it smashes into the wall or rolls over and over, you can damage your spinal cord horrifically.

Perhaps, like football, that’s part of why some people find it so appealing. It’s the thought that they could see something gruesome at any second.

Mixed Martial Arts

Over the past twenty years or so, mixed martial arts, or MMA, has become very popular. The combatants separate into different weight classes, like boxers, and they vie for supremacy. It’s exciting and fast-paced.

However, this is another sport where the participants risk life and limb every time they step in the octagon, the octagonal cage environment where they grapple. These individuals are deadly serious, and they’re highly skilled.

You wouldn’t think any of them would get in there wanting to seriously injure each other, but it does happen. If one of them lands wrong, they could suffer severe spinal cord damage, not to mention many other injury varieties.


Canadians love ice hockey, and it’s popular in the United States as well. Hockey is another sport with big, burly individuals slamming into each other.

This time, they’re on skates, which frequently makes things worse. They must skate very well to make it to the professional level, but if they careen out of control and slam into each other, or the wall, they’re lucky to escape with just bruises and bumps.

Just as often, they can damage their spinal cords, and they suffer many other injuries as well. You can usually tell a professional or amateur hockey player by how many teeth they’re missing, but you can also sometimes tell them because a spinal cord injury has confined them to a wheelchair.

Professional Wrestling

Some people regard wrestling as silly, grown women, and men play fighting in tights. It’s true that bookers predetermine wrestling match outcomes, which fans know, though they still like watching.

The thing about pro wrestling is that while the bookers predetermine the match outcomes, the in-ring physicality is very real. Wrestlers hurt themselves and each other constantly. There is no way to fake falling on wooden boards with a thin canvas layer on top of them.

Long-time wrestler bodies are injury road maps. Spinal cord injuries happen frequently, and some of them can end careers. Wrestlers must also deal with frequent concussions and worse.

The worst part about it is that the most prominent worldwide wrestling company, the WWE, doesn’t even give their wrestlers healthcare because they consider them independent contractors rather than regular employees.   

If you’re going to play sports, you have to understand the spinal cord injury risk, not to mention all the other things that can happen. All in all, it’s not an easy way to make a living, and you have to accept the inherent dangers.