The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine

Sports Study Findings: College Athletes Often Land Life-Long Disabling Injuries

Posted by on Friday, March 21st, 2014


Much like former child actors, former college athletes often find themselves depressed, fatigued, and unable to sleep later in life. Following their brief sports spotlight, these pinnacles of fitness later suffer from physical ailments that are disabling. The findings come from a study conducted by Indiana University researchers who looked at over 200 former Division I athletes who are now in their forties, fifties, and sixties.

college athlete study
College athletes may not be healthier later in life, says study.
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What Happens to College Athletes?

According to the study, former Division I athletes were more than twice as likely to suffer physical ailments that limit daily activities. The study also found:

– 67% of former athletes suffered a major physical injury (vs. 28% non-athletes)

– 50% had chronic injuries during college, compared to 26% of non-athletes

– 70% had practiced or played through their injuries. (vs. 33% non-athletes)

– 40% were diagnosed with osteoarthritis, compared to 24% of non-athletes.

Former college athletes also suffered from more fatigue, depression, and disrupted sleep than their non-athlete colleagues, according to American Journal of Sports Medicine

“Division I athletes may sacrifice their future health-related quality of life for their brief athletic career in college,” concluded lead investigator Janet Simon in a news release.

She added that elite athletes have access to nutritionists and strength training coaches during their college years, but do not continue to seek help from professionals as they age. “It is important for the athletes to find sports and activities that can keep them active as they age,” she said.

college athlete exercise
Running up stairs, rather than taking the elevator, can help aging athletes maintain their health and avoid injury.
Image Source: Flickr user Matthew Oliphant

Staying Active to Prevent Injuries Later in Life

Staying active is perhaps the most important controllable factor for life-long health. Walking or swimming at a slow pace are the two best activities for aging Americans, according to the National Institutes of Health. You can begin by walking 30 minutes for three days a week and gradually work your way up to 45-minute walks, five days a week. This can help you burn 100 to 200 calories per day. Every day activities like taking the stairs, gardening, and shoveling snow also contribute to leading a healthy lifestyle.

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Dr. Geldwert is shown with a patient at a NY marathon.
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Sports Medicine in New York City

The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine in NYC is a great resource for aging former college athletes who want to remain active and healthy for years to come. Whether you have arthritis or plantar fasciitis, we can help you regain mobility! We can show you physical therapy exercises, perform surgery or cutting-edge treatments, and advise you on holistic, natural treatment options as well.

The Center’s Dr. Geldwert is also the medical director of the NY Triathlon and Hamptons Marathon. He is the team podiatrist for the NY Liberty and NY Lizards, in addition to serving on the medical advisory committee for the U.S. Olympic Marathon trials.

If you have any type of ache or pain related to the foot or ankle, our New York podiatrists are here to help! We offer the most innovative treatments available in Manhattan and Westchester, including: extracorporeal pulse activation therapy, mini-tightrope surgeries, MIX5 therapy lasers, PinPointe foot lasers, FAST technique, platelet-rich plasma therapy, computerized gait analysis, and Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation.

Our physical therapists can help you diagnose pain, learn more about managing residual chronic overuse injuries, get back on your feet after an acute injury, and prevent future injuries. Consider booking a new appointment online today!


If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports MedicineDr. Josef J. GeldwertDr. Katherine Lai, Dr. Ryan Minara and Dr. Mariola Rivera have helped thousands of people get back on their feet. Unfortunately, we cannot give diagnoses or treatment advice online. Please make an appointment to see us if you live in the NY metropolitan area or seek out a podiatrist in your area.