Falling off a treadmill, getting hit on the head with a golf club and a leg bent backwards while playing rugby are just some of the accidents Hawke's Bay residents claimed to have suffered playing sport in the past winter.

Figures released by ACC covering the period February 1 to September 30 show rugby tops the claim count in Hawke's Bay with 2614 injury claims made at a cost of $1,199,595.

In second place was soccer, with 1038 accepted claims costing $381,695, followed by 1012 netball-related claims costing $417,666.

Cape Physio director and Magpies physio Mark Nicol said Hawke's Bay was an outdoors-type province, renowned for its cycle tracks and activities such as swimming.


"We participate in outdoor sport, more so than a lot of other areas," he said. "I think, and I don't know, but with the weather and the people here, there would be a lot of people playing sport and getting outside.

"You can be diving in the morning at Waimarama and catch crayfish, then go deerstalking in the Kawekas in the same day and on Sunday eat crayfish and venison, if you've been lucky."

Unsurprisingly, there were less than three claims made for ice skating.

Mr Nicol said with ACC collection methods changing in recent times and a number of other factors it was not possible to take the ACC figures as concrete evidence of long-term trends.

He said people were now much more aware of "medicine in general".

"When they have an injury they can get on Google and suddenly [they know] it can be a rotated cuff. People tend to self-diagnose."

The most common type of injury in the recorded ACC claims supplied was soft tissue injuries such as sprains, strains and contusions.

This was followed by lacerations, punctures, or stings and in third place were fractures or dislocations. In fourth and fifth place were foreign bodies in orifices or eyes and dental injuries, respectively.

Mr Nicol said education was an important part of injury prevention. "Education is a big portion of it and just general fitness. The better prepared you are, from a fitness perspective, the less likely you are to have a major injury occur.

"The screening process around head injuries has become a major focus. It's been much more strongly documented that there may be some ongoing problems. The old days where you'd get knocked out and on Monday have a test and you're done are long gone.

"That's the stuff that really costs ACC a lot of money, because if someone has a muscle strain the road getting them back to full health is minor compared to someone who has a brain injury with a long term debilitation. That's the stuff that really blows out the costs."

The sport with injuries which received the largest average cost per claim in Hawke's Bay was boating, with a single claim costing $2279 on average. A total of $109,426 was paid for 48 claims.

Claim costs were composed of the costs accrued up to September 30.

Mr Nicol said another modern change in sporting culture could be seen in teams' pre-season trainings, with it becoming "far more scientific" and team physios and medical professionals were now an accepted part of squads.

Cape Physio director Andrew Scott added there was also greater focus placed on the specific skill sets needed for different sports and positions, such as the core strength required by a rugby front rower and the leg muscles required by a soccer player. "There are less straight muscle tears than there used to be," he said.

"Instead of being ill-prepared and not specifically fit to your position, people are much better prepared now. The results are better. I reckon people's functions are returning at a higher level ... than they were 10 years ago."

An ACC spokesperson said the organisation recognised sport delivered health and social benefits "but also contributes to a significant number of injuries in New Zealand each year".

"Our injury prevention work focuses on sports that either generate high volumes of claims, or more severe injuries. These sports include rugby union, soccer, netball and rugby league."