How to Prevent and Treat Common Sports Injuries
Sports injuries can occur to anyone who is active, whether they participate in organized sporting events, a jog around the neighborhood, or simply enjoying a fun activity with family and friends. While a plethora of injuries could occur depending on the activity, there are some that are more common and can happen in any situation.
Common sports-related injuries can be sudden, or caused by overuse. The following are just a few of the most common injuries athletes encounter:
- Sprains: A sprain is an injury to a ligament, which are the bands that connect the bones to the joint. They occur when a ligament is suddenly stretched past its limit resulting in deformation or tear. The most common sprain is seen with the ankle, as it is easy to twist whether a person lands wrong on a jump or abruptly stepped into a hole on the playing field.
- Strains: Not to be confused with sprains, a strain is an injury to the actual muscle fibers or tendons, which anchor the muscles to bones. These can also be referred to as “pulled muscles” as that is essentially what they are. The muscles can tear from over-stretching or overuse. Athletes commonly experience hamstring strains, which is when one or more of the three muscles in the hamstring is injured, typically during activities that involve quite a bit of running, jumping, or sudden stopping and starting.
- Shin Splints: Shin splints cause a throbbing, aching pain in the shins after a run or sprint. The pain stems from inflammation caused by stress on the shinbone and the tissues that connect the muscles. More than likely, the problem is a result of another issue, such as flat feet, ill-fitting or non-supportive shoes, not warming up or stretching after activity, or weak ankles, hips or core muscles.
- Knee Ligament Injuries: Those familiar with sports know how easy it is to encounter a knee injury. An injury of a knee ligament may produce a loud pop or snap, resulting in sudden and severe pain, swelling, a feeling of joint looseness, and inability to carry weight on the joint. There are a few ligaments around the knee that are prone to severe injury:
- The ACL, or anterior cruciate ligament, which connects the thigh bone to the shin bone.
- The LCL, or lateral collateral ligament, which connects the thigh bone to the fibula, or smaller bone in the lower leg on the outer side of the knee.
- The MCL, or medial collateral ligament, which connects the thigh bone to the shin bone on the inside of the knee.
Although some injuries may still occur regardless of proper precautions, many can be prevented by being smart about the activity. For those who do not regularly participate in sports aside from the occasional weekend will benefit greatly from daily workouts to keep the body conditioned. Regardless of the activity, it should always start with a gentle warm-up to increase blood flow to the muscles, increasing flexibility. Injuries from overuse may be prevented by lightly working out relevant muscle groups beginning weeks prior to the activity – basically training and conditioning. Most importantly, during the activity, if your muscles are feeling fatigued, it’s time to stop. When the muscles are tired, the risk of injury increases as the protective mechanisms are no longer functioning correctly.
Sports are a fun way to fit physical activity into daily life, but an injury can quickly bring everything to a halt. Taking the time to properly prepare the body is beneficial and imperative for overall health. If you believe you are suffering from a sports-related injury, stop in today. We can help diagnose and treat the injury to get you safely back on the field in no time.