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It doesn't matter if it's a neighborhood pickup game or the pros. Replacing traditional bases with the "breakaway" kind may be the key to reducing injuries when baseball players make those show-stopping slides.

In fact, according to a study by the American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society, college and professional minor-league baseball players sustained 80 percent fewer sliding injuries on the breakaway bases compared with the traditional stationary ones.

Dr. David H. Janda, principal author of the study and director of the Institute for Preventative Sports Medicine in Ann Arbor, Mich., says these findings suggest that breakaway bases -- that dislodge with one-fifth the force needed to move the stationary kind -- should be used at all levels of the game, even though college and professional players routinely receive sliding instruction and generally develop better techniques than recreational players.

"Adoption of breakaway bases by the major leagues would set an example for recreational softball and baseball," Janda says. "If all recreational leagues used breakaway bases, we could virtually eliminate almost 2 million injuries and $2 billion in health care costs that occur among recreational players every year."

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