Common Sports Injury Guide

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Common Sports Injury Guide

Sports Injuries – Why do they happen and how to prevent it?

A sports injury can happen any time, anywhere, and when you least expect it. You cannot get around it when it comes to playing sports. No matter the level of your sportsmanship. Whether you’re a professional or amateur athlete or just exercising occasionally for your fun, you are susceptible to some sports injury during your sports activity.

Sports injuries are common in all team and individual sports at all levels of play and can happen anytime during training or gameplay. There are so many potential causes for sports injuries that make it almost impossible to avoid sustaining at least one of them at some point during physical activity. These causes can vary from inexperience, overuse of muscles and other body parts, overtraining, contact sports like football, previous injuries or chronic injuries, lack of or improper warm-up, lack of appropriate equipment or sports gear, poor field conditions, and many more.

As the case is with any injury, sports-related injuries can have many negative implications, none of which are desired. From missing a critical practice and a crucial game to suffering pain and undergoing lengthy medical treatment. Athletes of all sorts and types miss vital opportunities because of sports injuries, their hearts get broken, and careers change or even end.

Sustaining sports injuries at a young age can be even more problematic because young people are still growing and developing. Damage done to their joints, bones, or muscles at a young age may cause permanent changes to their body that can accompany them during their entire sports career and even life. Sometimes missing a vital game or a training session can have a detrimental impact on an athlete’s future and life.

That is why, whether you are an amateur athlete or a professional athlete, you cannot afford for yourself to overlook the hazards of sports injuries and must give them your complete and utmost attention to prevent them before they happen.

The good news is that most sports injuries can be prevented with the correct information and proper attention. It does take commitment on the athlete’s part, but athletes who understand the importance of keeping their body safe from injuries and the fact that it is crucial for their ongoing success, just like knowing how to play well, can more easily commit themselves to avoid injury in the first place, instead of dealing with its consequences aftermath.

What is a sports injury?

Simply put, a sports injury is damage or trauma to the body resulting from any sports activity. A sports injury can include muscle and tendon damage, ligament sprains and tears, bone fractures, contusions (bruises), ACL tears (anterior cruciate ligament) in football, shoulder separation, labral tears (impingement syndrome), shin splints, stress fractures, ankle sprains, tennis elbow, runner’s knee, plantar fasciitis (heel pain) and more.

Some sports injuries that are relatively minor can be self-diagnosed and self-treated (for example, resting to provide relief to a strained muscle). In contrast, other sports injuries may require medical intervention in the form of a physical examination and medical procedures (for example, broken bones that require surgery), followed by physical therapy and participation in a rehabilitation program. Needless to say, in case of even the slightest doubt regarding the diagnosis and treatment of any physical injury, including sports injuries, of course, one should refrain from any self-help and immediately seek professional medical advice and treatment.

What are common sports injuries, and how to prevent them?

Typical sports injuries are ones that are associated with general physical activity without relation to any type of sport (for example, muscle strain or pain in the knee joint, stress fractures, and so forth). Beyond this type of injury, there are injuries related to a specific type of sport, which are not likely to occur in other sports activities. A soccer player, for example, is less likely to suffer from a tennis elbow during his career than a tennis player will.

The measures for preventing any sports injuries depend on the type of injury and vary from one injury to the other. For ease of use, alongside the relevant type of injury, we will provide you with some tips on how to better prevent the injuries from happening in the first place:

Sprains and Strains

One of the most common types of sports injuries that any athlete can and probably will at some point of his career suffer from, due to reasons such as lack of suitable warming-up, muscle overuse (which is why sometimes this class of injuries is also referred to as “overuse injuries”), contact with other players, terrible field conditions, etc. The injuries included in this group can vary from muscle strain or shin splints to ligament tear and ankle sprain.

How to prevent tips – while some possible injuries might be unavoidable, such as sprained ankle due to unexpected pits in the field, many of the injuries in this class are directly related to fitness and pre-activity preparation, such as warm-up. Any athlete must adjust his fitness to the type of sport he practices. A football player fitness and a badminton player fitness are not required to be the same. Each needs a different set of body skills and capabilities, and each one of them will face different physical hazards during their play.

The same goes for preparations. Training and warming-up exercises that football players carry out are different from those of a badminton player. So the more fit you are and the more you prepare yourself correctly for the type of sports activity ahead of you, the more resilient you will be to the group of injuries it might cause. For example, if your leg muscles are strong enough, you will be less likely to suffer from knee injuries as the muscles will sustain more physical load than the knee joint itself and thus help protect it from damage.

Work on flexibility and not just power. It is essential to keep your body flexible and elastic to avoid injury to muscles and ligaments such as rotator cuff tears, medial collateral ligament (MCL), tibial collateral ligament (TCL), and anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) strains. Stretching exercises are crucial and should be carried out constantly to help prevent these injuries.

Do take care, however, of over-training and over-effort. As much as you want to improve performance, you don’t want to cause yourself damage from over-training, as eventually, it might only damage your performance instead of improving it.

Head and Neck Injuries

Common Sports Injury Guide

Unfortunately, risk factors are high when it comes to injuries to the head, face, or neck due to the sensitivity of these body parts. Any injury to the head and neck area may have severe consequences for your health, and some may even be life-threatening injuries that might require careful and lengthy treatment. The increased risk of such injuries means that preventing damage to this area should not be taken lightly, if not with utmost seriousness. If it is essential to prevent injuries to your body, then this is probably the most critical part of your body one should protect.

How to prevent tips – Protective gear. Using proper equipment to protect your head is the only way to go here.

Ensure to wear a helmet according to the athletic activities you carry out, not only during gameplay but also during training and practice if needed, as is the case in football. Be mindful of not only having a helmet but also of its quality and intactness. Before each use, please verify that the helmet is not damaged in any manner and ensure to wear and secure it properly.

Don’t underestimate any potential injury to your head, like a direct blow by hard surfaces or contact with other players, and remind yourself that wearing a helmet the wrong way is like not wearing a helmet at all.

Concerning injury to the face or a previous injury to the face, ensure to wear a face mask. There any many types of masks intended to protect athletes in various sports activities, manufactured with advanced materials. Some of these masks are custom-tailored to suit someone’s face if all parts of the face need protection. And remember to prefer your safety and overall health over appearance.

To prevent injury to your mouth and teeth, use mouth guards. Either an off-the-shelf product or a custom-tailored one. A lot of pain and visits to the dentist can be saved with this protective gear. Aside from the pain involved with breaking teeth, injury to your teeth may require long-term treatment procedures to bring it back to functioning status.

No less critical, mouth guards may also help prevent suffocation by swallowing the tongue in the event of head collisions.

Remember, no matter which sports activity you engage in, it is crucial to have the right equipment to protect the body part that is more exposed to the hazards associated with it. A football player may choose cycling from time to time, maybe just for the fun of it, and he will still need to ensure wearing a helmet and knee pads when cycling.

Cuts and Scrapes

This group of injuries includes two main categories. One is external damage to soft tissue, like scratches or bruises to the skin, and the second also contains invasive damage, like cuts. While both may be severe depending on the type of injury, open cuts possess more immediate hazards due to possible bleeding and so forth.

How to prevent tips – Once more, it is about protective gear. Wear protective gear to cover and protect any vulnerable part of the body as much as possible. Go for long pants and shirts if possible, and on top of that, add protective gear like gloves, helmets, goggles, mouth guards, knee and elbow pads, and so forth.

Tendon Tear and Stress Fractures

Tendons are tough bands of tissue that attach muscle to bone (while Ligaments connect bone to bone). Tendonitis is when a tendon becomes inflamed due to overuse. The repetitive motion of running, for example, can cause tendons in the lower leg, such as the Achilles Tendon, to become swollen and painful. Since tendons are harder to stitch back together in case of tear because of their structure, the medical procedure to treat it sometimes requires intervention by orthopedic surgeons to replace the torn tendon.

Stress fractures, sometimes referred to as “hairline fractures”, despite being one of the most common sports injuries, are one of the most ignored ones until they happen and pain starts. Although usually associated with injuries to the lower leg, it is not confined to this body part and may also appear in the arm bones.

Stress Fractions occur when a bone is subjected to repeated pressure, such as the stress from running, which causes multiple minor fractures in the bone. When these tiny fractures accumulate over time, the bone naturally becomes more sensitive and causes more noticeable pain.

Stress fractures are more common in female athletes because they have less muscle and bone density than men, so it takes them longer to develop stronger bones that can sustain heavy loads continually over long periods.

How to prevent tips – The prevention efforts with these injuries mainly concentrate on the physical preparation phase. That is, exercising and training to achieve and maintain a level of fitness that is sufficient and proportional to the kind of physical effort required in the relevant physical activity while reaching it before you engage in the activity itself. For example, the stronger your leg muscles are, the less strain on the bone as the muscles carry more body weight.

On the other hand, avoid over-training and over-playing when the physical condition requires it. Further load on a fractured bone will not make it better but rather cause further and more extensive damage to bone cells. The bone needs time to reconstruct itself after it is damaged, so proper rest in between physical activity is crucial in this aspect. Strengthening the body is a gradual process that doesn’t happen in one day. This includes strengthening the bones.

To prevent injury to the tendon, emphasize exercises that assist in gaining flexibility and elasticity, alongside the build of muscle strength. The flexibility of tendons (and ligaments) is crucial for their ability to withstand heavy-duty physical effort without breaking apart.

Lastly, as is relevant to the protection of ligaments, there are various support braces and tapes for the knee joint, elbow or wrist joints, shoulder, and so forth, which can reduce physical loads off the joints, including off the tendons and ligaments. A certified physical therapist will identify and assess the damage and provide advice on the appropriate solution for the problem.

Fractures and Broken Bones

Unfortunately, this is another common group of sports injuries that athletes sometimes confront during sports activity. Fracture is what happens when bones crack or break. While there are different levels of bone fractures, ranging from cracks in the bone to partial, open, or displaced fractures, among others, they all involve considerable pain and are injuries to avoid as much as possible.

There are two types of fractures – open and closed fractures. The difference between the two is that the broken bone pierces through your skin in an open fracture, while the bone remains covered by your skin in a closed fracture.

How to prevent tips – Two fundamental elements for prevention here are fitness and protective gear. Both aspects should be implemented to minimize fracture risks to the bones. Having a solid and fit body that can sustain occasional blows without breaking and wearing protective gear to add further protection are some of the best things you can do to minimize risks.

Being fit may also affect the bones’ ability to heal themselves. The fitter you are, the faster and better your body might heal injuries. Serious injuries, like fractures in the thigh bone, can lead to several weeks or even months of absence from field and practice and involve lengthy physical therapy and rehabilitation programs.

An important point to remember about fractures is that once they occur, the injured area immediately becomes more sensitive to further damage. So proper treatment and healing are crucial for returning to safe activity. Many injured athletes make the mistake of returning too fast to the field without providing the injured area proper time to heal properly. This goes for all types and severity of injuries. From injuries like a seemingly minor ankle sprain or soft tissue injuries to more serious ones.

Dislocations and Separations

As with other sports injuries, the reason for dislocation is either due to direct impact or a hypermobile joint (a joint that has more range of motion than normal). The most common causes of dislocations and separations are falls on an outstretched hand, which forces the bones to separate. Dislocations typically do not happen on their own; they require pressure or force from another party.

So once more, the more fit your body is, and the more you wear protective equipment, the better chances you will have to protect yourself from this type of injury.

How to prevent tips – Strengthen the shoulder and wrist muscles and improve flexibility. If you are playing a contact sport, make sure you always use protective gear; it could save your wrist or shoulder during falls and contact with other players.

Conclusions

In a nutshell, there is no way to avoid the risk of sports injuries altogether. In fact, if you are participating in any competitive sport, there will always be a certain level of physical stress that your body will have to go through. However, it does not mean that you cannot take steps to prevent injury from happening or lower its severity. The tips provided here, while not exhaustive, provide a starting point for any beginner or intermediate athletes who want to protect themselves from injuries to ensure they get the most out of their sport.

It boils down to how much you take your body’s health seriously, as well as your game. If you do, then you will prepare your body accordingly to match the challenges of your sport; you will take care of any affected area of the body by wearing suitable and high-quality protective gear; and you’ll treat any sports injury, whether minor or severe, with this same serious mindset to avoid escalation of the injury or turning it to an acute injury that might ‘accompany’ you for many years, and eventually maybe damage your career.

Many injuries can be avoided – if only the right mindset is adopted. So how do you want your sports career to look like?