Whether you are a weekend warrior or a highly-trained athlete, there is always that chance of getting injured. Unfortunately, when injuries do happen, it can be difficult to know what you’ve tweaked and how to treat it. In this article, we will count down the most common sports injuries, along with causes, treatments, and recovery strategies.
Common Sports Injuries
1. Ankle sprain
What it is – Many athletes, while participating in their favorite sports, have experienced a sprained ankle. The outside of the ankle has ligaments which are relatively weak and can be torn or stretched when the foot turns inward.
What you can do – Apply ice and elevate your ankle to reduce inflammation. When a sprain occurs, you must prevent your ankle from losing its flexibility and strength, and from possible re-injury. This can be done by guided exercise to be directed by a doctor or physical therapist. They will teach you what kind of exercises you can do.
When to see a doctor – It is important to find out where the sprain occurred. If it is a high ankle sprain, it is advisable to see a doctor to ensure that the bones in the lower leg didn’t separate. If you notice tenderness above the ankle, most likely it is a high ankle sprain. A high ankle sprain may take a longer time to heal.
2. Groin pull
What it is – This injury is common in such sports as football, soccer, hockey, and baseball. Players who push off in a side-to-side motion are more prone to strain in the muscles of the inner thigh or groin.
What you can do – Remedies for groin injuries include compression, ice, and rest. If athletes with a groin pull resume full activity at once, their condition may aggravate and turn into a long-term problem.
When to see a doctor – A groin pull accompanied by considerable swelling should be seen immediately by a physician.
3. Hamstring strain
What it is – Three muscles can be found at the back of the thigh which form the hamstring. Kicking your leg out sharply while running may cause the hamstring to be over-stretched. Falling forward while water-skiing may also cause hamstring strains.
What you can do – A hamstring strain may take a long time to heal due to the constant stress being applied to the injured tissue while walking. Because of this, complete healing may take anywhere from 6 to 12 months. It is usually difficult for athletes to stay inactive for such a long period, so recurrence of hamstring injuries are common.
4. Shin splints
What they are – Undergoing or participating in strenuous training programs like running on long paved roads sometimes causes pain down the front of the lower legs. This kind of pain is known as shin splints.
What you can do – Treatment for shin splints includes rest, ice, and over-the-counter pain medicine.
When to see a doctor – The pain brought about by shin splints is rarely due to a stress fracture (a break in the shin bone). However, if pain persists even after resting, you should see your doctor. Stress fractures require a longer rest period, usually a month or more.
5. Knee injury: ACL tear
What it is – ACL or the anterior cruciate ligaments hold the leg bone to the knee. These ligaments may be torn or strained if they are hit from the side, or due to sudden “cuts” or stops. If there is a complete or total tear, the dreaded “pop” may be heard.
When to see a doctor – ACL tears are considered the most serious of the common sports injuries. So if you suspect an ACL injury, you must see your doctor immediately. A completely torn ACL may require surgery if the individual wants to remain physically active.
6: Knee injury: Patellofemoral pain syndrome
What it is – The patella is the kneecap, and the femur is the thigh bone. The repetitive movement of the patella against the femur can damage the tissue under the kneecap, and this can lead to patellofemoral syndrome (also known as jumper’s knee or runner’s knee). Running, playing volleyball or basketball are common causes. One or both knees can be affected.
What you can do – Patellofemoral pain can last up to six weeks. Low-impact exercises can be done during this time. Working out the quadriceps may also ease the pain.
7. Tennis elbow (epicondylitis)
What it is – Repetitive use of the elbow may cause tiny tears or irritate the elbow’s tendons. This is known as lateral epicondylitis. It usually occurs during tennis or golf swings. Tennis elbow commonly involves the outside of the elbow. People aged 30 to 60 are the most commonly affected by this injury.
What you can do – People suffering from epicondylitis are advised not to play golf or tennis until the pain eases.
How to Prevent Common Sports Injuries
Accidents leading to injuries can happen while participating in sports activities. Sometimes, they are beyond our control. That said, it’s important to note that common sports injuries are preventable. We can institute measures to minimize their occurrence. Some injuries happen simply because we are not conditioned for a particular activity.
A gentle warm-up at the start of the workout or sport will help prevent sports injuries. A good warm-up increases blood flow to the muscles, allows you to be more flexible, and reduces the possibility of sports injuries. Gradually increase intensity and always use proper form to avoid injury.
Overuse injuries are common but preventable. Don’t engage in a sport for an extended period if you have been physically inactive for a long time. If you are about to participate in a sports activity, whether it is hiking, running, or any team sports, it will be beneficial if you do some “pre-participation training” before the activity.
Lastly, learn to recognize your capabilities and limitations. Muscle fatigue reduces and may even remove all your protective mechanisms, increasing your risk for injuries. If you feel you can no longer play, stop and rest. There are plenty of opportunities next time.
Playing sports can provide many health benefits while doing something you’re passionate about. But sports can also cause injuries. While it’s not always possible to prevent all these common sports injuries, there are things you can do to reduce the risk. Injuries caused by straining and overuse can be prevented by stretching before and after the activity. Also, listen to your body when it’s telling you that it needs some rest.
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