Sports injuries are the result of either overuse of a particular body part or direct trauma
What are sports injuries?
While physical activity is an important part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle, it comes with potential risks. This is true whether you are attempting to get back in shape or working as a professional athlete. The risk of sports injuries is higher in active children because they are still physically developing, but still have the potential to occur regularly in adults.
Common sports injuries include:
- Shin splints – inflammation of the muscle around the shin frequently occurs in individuals who have increased the intensity of running or started a new sport
- Knee injuries – the most common injury in this category is an ACL tear, which occurs when the ligament designed to keep the tibia from overextending is damaged (usually by twisting)
- Tennis/golfer’s elbow – these are two common types of tendinitis, a condition where tissue between muscle and bone is irritated due to poor swing
- Sprains & strains – injuries in this category are caused by motions that stop and start quickly and can include ankle sprains, groin pulls and strained hamstrings
- Rotator cuff tear – muscles and tendons that stabilize the shoulder’s movements can be torn when repetitive motion, such as baseball pitching, regularly occurs
- Bone fractures – broken bones are seen most often in contact sports but repetitive lighter force can also create hairline cracks
- Concussions – this traumatic brain injury happens when someone receives a blow to the head that causes the brain to shake back and forth in the skull and sometimes results in loss of consciousness
Causes of sports injuries
There are two main causes of sports injuries: repetition and trauma. Repetition injuries occur when an area is regularly overused while trauma is associated with a single event. Other factors can come into play such as faulty equipment, increasing the intensity of exercise too rapidly or inappropriate stretching.
Ways to prevent sports injuries
Sports injuries can often be prevented through:
- Warming up – proper stretching is proven to reduce injuries because it prepares muscles to handle the stress of activities
- Using appropriate gear – wearing the correct type of shoe, glove or other applicable sportswear can prevent several types of injury
- Balanced diet – getting enough protein and calcium can strengthen bones and muscles and provide the energy necessary to perform precisely
- Know your limitations – slowly building the pace of training instead of taking on too much at once, varying workout routines and setting aside adequate recovery time are all key to avoiding injury
- Get professional training – this can be done through researching expertly developed training programs on your own or learning directly from a qualified trainer
How are sports injuries diagnosed and treated?
While many sports injuries such as pulled muscles can be effectively treated with icing, elevation, compression and rest, more serious injuries — or injuries that reoccur — warrant a physical exam performed by a medical professional. Because ports injuries can be acute or chronic, the treatment will depend on the nature and severity of the injury.
Common treatments include:
- Medication – over-the-counter pain medicines can be effective in treating minor aches and swelling
- Physical therapy – preventing loss of strength and reduced flexibility is key to not experiencing re-injury
- Joint replacement – this option is rare and usually reserved for professional athletes
- Surgery – serious injuries such as completely torn ligaments require surgical treatment
Sling/orthopedic cast – injuries that involve broken bones or shoulder trauma might need a cast or sling for stabilization until an adequate amount of healing can take place