According to the National Safety Council (NSC), in 2019 there were over 3.5 million injuries related to sports and recreation that resulted in emergency department visits. These numbers are staggering, especially since many sports injuries can be prevented before they even happen.
Whether you’re just starting to play a new sport or you’ve been an active sports player for years, injuries are part of the game. Luckily, you can avoid getting hurt if you have the knowledge and skills to take better care of yourself.
Keep reading to discover the most common sports injuries and how you can prevent them from happening.
Depending on the type of sport you play, how often you play it, the equipment you use, and the level of difficulty, injuries can range from mild to severe. A sports injury can happen with just one wrong move, hand swing, step, or action – sometimes, it’s impossible to predict them. However, knowing how to move, how to position your hands and legs while playing, wearing the right gear, and avoiding rough terrain can help you reduce the risk of getting hurt.
Sports injuries can also happen if you’re not physically prepared enough for the sport, or if you’re overworking your body without taking any rest or warming up. You can get injured even without making a single move if you don’t get your body and mind ready for the physical activity.
While you can’t predict if or when a sports injury will happen, you can take some precautions to prevent it. Prevention is the best cure, and if you take care of your body and are careful when playing, you’ll be less likely to get injured.
For example, no matter what type of sports you’re playing, getting the right equipment and shoes can be crucial for preventing injuries. Knowing the terrain and sports field well is another way to prevent leg and knee injuries. Finally, practicing and improving is a great way to avoid beginners’ mistakes, but the most important prevention is letting your muscles rest and recover.
If an injury happens, you should listen to your body and take care of it until it recovers. Even when you feel like you can play or exercise again, give yourself a little more time. During recovery, you can’t always know if your body is ready for strenuous activity again, so talk to your doctor before playing again. Stretching and warmups before physical activity is another great way to prevent injuries and minimize the risk.
If you get injured during a game or training, you should treat the injury as soon as it happens. Different injuries require different healing methods, but you can prevent it from becoming more serious if you know how to react. For instance, should you apply heat or ice to an injury? Should you see a doctor? Should you use pressure or bandages? If you’re not sure what to do, it’s best to call your doctor or call an ambulance right away.
If your injury is serious and needs to be treated in a hospital, make sure you have a good medical insurance plan that’ll cover your expenses. You can learn more about your options at MedicareWire and compare different Medicare plans. Your doctor will give you instructions and medications, as well as tips on what to do at home to help heal the injury.
Some of the most common sports injuries include:
· Tennis elbow
· Knee injuries
· Back injuries
· Plantar fasciitis
We’ll dive into each injury in more detail below, as well as the best prevention and treatment options.
Ligament sprains are minor sports injuries but can become serious if you don’t treat them properly. The ligaments are the connecting tissues between two or more bones, and with strenuous activity, they can pull, tear, or take a wrong turn. The most common ligament sprains happen in the joints, resulting in sprained ankles, wrists, or knees.
To prevent ligament sprains, you should make sure your main joints are ready for physical activity. This means getting the right equipment such as the appropriate shoes for the sport, supporting the joints with sports bandages, and avoiding rocky or uneven terrain whenever possible. Warmups and stretches are also important in preventing injuries.
Muscle strains are among the most common sports injuries that happen when a muscle is so tight that it ends up being torn or pulled. Some of the most frequent muscle strain injuries include hip flexor strain, pulled groin muscles, pulled hamstrings, and ACL strain. For example, the ACL strain or tear is an injury to the anterior cruciate ligament, which is an essential knee ligament. When this ligament is torn, it can become extremely painful and might need surgery depending on the amount of tearing.
To prevent muscle tears and strains, you should always warm up, stretch, and prep your muscles before playing sports or any physical activity. Pivoting, going too fast, cutting corners, or trying to accomplish something your body isn’t ready for can result in strains all over your body.
Tennis or golf elbow is a common sports injury not just in tennis or golf players but in anyone playing a repetitive sport, i.e. a sport with repetitive activities. For example, if you play tennis, your active hand is constantly moving with the racket to hit the ball under an angle, usually with no rest between hits. This causes the elbow ligaments to tear, causing pain and tension.
The best way to prevent tennis elbow is to try to control your movements and keep a slower pace. Resting after a game is another great way to help the muscles and ligaments to recover. Stretches and breaks between games and sessions can help you prevent this common sports injury.
Bone fractures don’t happen often in sports, but when they do, it’s a sign that you’ve overworked your body or made the wrong move. The most common bone fractures happen in the knees, arms, legs, and feet, but in some contact sports or extreme sports, they happen in the ribcage and even the head and neck.
The best way to prevent fractures is to wear the appropriate gear, especially in strenuous or contact sports where the risk of fractures is higher. Stretching and warming up before playing is another crucial way to prevent injuries. You should also wear padding and headgear, and most importantly, if you feel any type of pain in your body, do not continue to play.
Dislocations of bones and joints is a less severe sports injury, but it can still be unpleasant and painful. Dislocations usually happen in the shoulders, wrists, ankles, knees, and hips if you make the wrong move or get hit by a ball or another player. Dislocations can be very similar to fractures, but they hurt less and are easy to fix.
To prevent dislocations, you should always protect your joints with the right gear for the sport, watch your step, and avoid making sudden moves. If you get injured, do not continue to play, even if you don’t feel any pain. A doctor will treat the dislocation, but if the injury is more severe and you have torn muscles or tendons, you might need surgery to put everything back into place. Rest, ice packs and light stretches should help reduce the pain and swelling and help you feel healthy and strong. You should also ease into playing again to give the body a chance to recover.
The knees are the most commonly used joints in sports activities and as a result, they endure the most injuries. No matter what type of sport you’re into, you likely use your knees to run, bend, steer a ball, or move forward. The most common knee injuries happen in contact sports like basketball, football, soccer, baseball, and volleyball, but also in sports like cycling, running, swimming, and bodybuilding.
To prevent knee injuries, you should wear the appropriate gear and padding for the sport. Stretches and warmups for knees are essential before every game or activity, as well as working on improving your posture daily.
Back injuries are common in all sports, but especially contact sports and sports that require heavy lifting. If your back muscles aren’t strong enough to endure the pressure and tension, you might end up with an injury. Back injuries also happen as a result of a sudden or wrong move, a fall, or chronic stress caused by playing sports.
If you’ve never played an intense sport before, never lifted anything heavy, or haven’t trained properly before playing, the risk of injury is higher. The key to optimal health and injury prevention is in preparing your back for the type of game you play. For example, if you play tennis, your back needs to be strong enough for all the different angles, moves, and positions. If you’re a runner or a cyclist, you should pay attention to your lower back to avoid sciatica.
This is why you need to develop a good stretching and warming up routine before a game or physical activity. For instance, if you know you’ll be cycling on uneven terrains, warm up your back and leg muscles every day at least a week before your trip. If you play golf, do stretches that target the back muscles and improve spine flexibility. Your legs also play a role in reducing the risk of back pain, so do some light stretches and exercises to make sure your entire body is prepared for the sport.
Plantar fasciitis and shin splints are common injuries in sports that use the legs and feet as the main sources of power. Examples include football, baseball, soccer, basketball, running, or any other sport that requires constant leg movement.
Plantar fasciitis is an inflammation of the tendon in the arch of the foot. To prevent plantar fasciitis, you should do stretches and warm-up sessions before playing. If you feel tension in your feet and muscles, you should take breaks and rest well before the next game or activity.
Shin splints happen when you overwork your legs and feet, make sudden stops, or don’t rest your legs properly. As a result, the muscles of your lower leg can get inflamed, leading to shin splints. To prevent this injury, you should always listen to your body and not go past your limits. Wearing the right shoes for the sport is another great way to support the muscles and prevent shin splints.
The most serious sports injury is a concussion of the brain, caused by a severe fall or hit. It happens in contact sports like football, soccer, basketball, or recreational sports like skateboarding and cycling. Though you can’t always control where the ball goes or what the other players are doing, you can reduce the risk of concussion by wearing the appropriate gear for the sport.
Concussions can be mild or severe, but they’re still a serious sports injury that you should treat immediately. You might feel a headache at first, but if the concussion is strong, you’ll also feel dizziness or even loss of consciousness. In this case, you should seek urgent medical help, stop playing immediately, and rest in one position until the ambulance arrives. Your doctor will assess the injury and give you the right medication and therapy. Plenty of rest and recuperation will help you feel good again, but you should avoid any strenuous physical activities after a concussion.
Whether you’re a professional sports player or love being physically active as a hobby, the best way to prevent these common sports injuries is to prepare yourself before each game.
Want more health and wellness tips? Check out some of the other articles we’ve written on these topics and stay tuned for more tips, news, and trends.