Thats A Foul! 5 Of The Most Common Sports Injuries And How To Avoid Them
Whether you’re a high school athlete or a weekend warrior, you don’t want anything to interrupt your game.
When you suffer a sports injury, you risk delaying your high school or college sports career. If you’re training for a marathon or triathlon, you can’t afford an injury in the weeks and months leading up to your big race day.
Avoiding injury is the best way to stay active! The CDC estimates that more than half of youth-related sports injuries are preventable.
Here’s how to avoid five of the most common sports injuries.
A joint sprain is painful and all-to-common when playing sports or training too hard. Sprains affect the ligaments around your joints. Ligaments stabilize your joints.
When a joint shifts the wrong way or too far the right way, your ligaments can stretch too–or tear. This happens most often as a result of a sudden fall or twist when landing a jump or your next step.
You’ll feel a sudden burst of pain. Depending on the location of the sprain, you’ll have difficulty walking or throwing a ball.
- Limited flexibility around the joints
Preventing a sprain is simple, but it requires a little pre-emptive work. Incorporate pre-activity stretching before you start a workout or before tip-off of your game.
Exercise more often to build strength around your joints. Know your limitations. Don’t push yourself to play a full game or run ten miles if you’re not ready for it.
It’s tempting to go all-in every time you lace on your tennis shoes. But, listening to your body and taking time to stretch and rest will prolong your sports career.
2. Knee Injuries
Your knees are one of your body’s most valuable assets when it comes to sports, exercise, and overall mobility.
Unfortunately, knees are also one of the most devastating injuries when it comes to staying active or continuing your sports career. Injuring a knee can happen during a variety of sports or physical activities.
Common knee injuries include:
- A meniscal tear (torn cartilage)
- Iliotibial band syndrome (common for long-distance runners)
One of the most debilitating and career-ending knee injuries is a tear or damage to the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). It’s one of the most common injuries in football.
Surgery and rehab can help heal ACL and other knee injuries. But the best solution to protecting your knees is to prevent injuries.
Be sure to warm up before exercise. Practice low-impact activities (like walking or swimming) to build strength. Weight training also improves knee strength.
Stay consistent with your level of activity to build stability before increasing the intensity of sports or exercise.
A bone fracture includes anything from a split or cracks in the bone to a full break. A broken arm or leg can sideline you from the action and involves a lengthy recovery and rehab program to get you back on your game.
Fractures happen from impact. A fall or hard tackle can break a wrist, rib, or fracture a bone.
The simplest way to avoid a fracture is to prevent a fall. However, depending on your sport of choice of exercise, sometimes falls or impacts are unavoidable.
There are some things you can do to reduce the severity of a fracture and potential for serious injury.
- Good nutrition. Build strong bones by consuming plenty of dairy product, whole grains, vegetables, and other foods or supplements that contain Vitamin D.
- Good technique: Learn the proper ways to run, tackle, and fall–depending on your sport.
- Good equipment: Worn-out shoes, the wrong shoes, or faulty equipment can cause a fall.
Preventing fractures starts with proper preparation.
4. Shin Splints
THat pain in your shin? It could be a shin splint.
It’s a common injury for runners or athletes that play high-impact sports. It’s also one of the most common injuries in basketball and football.
- Tenderness or pain along the inner side of your shinbone
- Mild swelling in your lower leg
- Tightness in your calf
- Pain when walking
The good news for shin splints is that there are simple ways to prevent this injury.
- Wear the right shoes. If you’re a runner, find a running store to help you choose the right shoes for your arch and stride.
- Don’t overdo it. It’s a common theme in injury prevention. Don’t do too much too soon. Gradually increase your distance, impact, or intensity.
- Add strength training. There’s a common misconception that strength-training is only for weight-lifters. However, strength-training helps prevent injuries for almost any sport.
At the first sign of shin splints, stop. Rest and stretching are two of the best ways to recover quickly and prevent shin splints from reoccurring.
5. Muscle Strains
Where a sprain affects ligaments, a muscle strain impacts your tendons.
Symptoms can be similar between a sprain vs. a strain. However, they are two different injuries.
When experiencing muscle strain, you could have these symptoms:
- Muscle spasm
- Pain around the joint
- Limited flexibility
Prevent muscle strains by making sure you don’t overdo it. When you’re tired, you’re more likely to strain a muscle. Proper rest and good nutrition help your muscles recover after an intense game or run.
If you feel the need to workout, choose a low-impact activity like swimming or pilates. Stretching is good for muscle recovery, but don’t over-stretch.
A good sports massage can also help your body recover after intense activity.
Treat Common Sports Injuries Right Away!
Staying healthy helps you stay in the game or on the run! If left untreated, common sports injuries can keep you sidelined from your favorite sport.
At the first sign of injury, seek treatment. It’s better to rest and get help from a sports medicine professional than to try and play through the pain.
Dr. Walter Thomas deals with sports injuries from high school athletes to active seniors, and weekend warriors of every age in between. Contact us to get back in the game!