Whether you are a professional athlete or simply playing sports for fun, there is always a chance you could get injured. Sports are physically demanding and can cause injury even if you are in good shape.
Here are 10 of the most common sports injuries, along with possible causes and symptoms.
10 of the most common sports injuries
Strains are by far the most common type of sports injuries, since most sports require the use of a wide range of muscles and tendons. A strain occurs when a muscle or tendon has been overstretched or torn.
Tendons are connective fibers that connect muscle to bone. Straining or twisting these tissues can result in pain, spasms, swelling, or difficulty moving the affected body part. Muscle strains in the back and hamstrings are also common.
Sprains are also very common, especially in sports that involve turning quickly. A sprain occurs when a ligament, which are connective tissues that hold bones together at a joint, stretch or tear. When ligaments twist in the incorrect direction, they might be pulled or torn.
Pain associated with a sprain is intense, and the healing period is longer than that of a strain. In some cases, immobilization is required to prevent further damage.
3. Knee injuries
Because the knee is a complex joint that is subjected to a great deal of force and wears during most athletic activities, it has a separate category for potential injuries. Rips of the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), as well as cartilage tears, dislocations and fractures, are common knee injuries.
Knee injuries may be very painful and debilitating, and in severe cases may require surgical intervention. Warm-ups, stretches, and the use of proper padding and bracing can help reduce the risk of knee injuries in athletes.
One example of a knee injury is called jumper’s knee, also referred to as patellar tendinitis. This type of injury occurs when there is inflammation in the tissue that connects your kneecap and thigh muscles to your shin bone. Sports such as basketball and volleyball, require frequent jumping, often cause this type of injury. Symptoms include pain under the kneecap, as well as weakness or stiffness in the knee when jumping, kneeling, or climbing stairs.
4. Rotator cuff injuries
A rotator cuff is a group of muscles and tendons surrounding your shoulder joint. They help keep the head of your upper arm bone (humerus) firmly within the shallow socket of the shoulder, thereby ensuring shoulder movement and stability.
Injuries to this region are common in sports that require repetitive movements, such as swimming, tennis, or baseball. Swelling in the shoulder, discomfort when lifting the arm, and pain when reaching behind the back are common symptoms.
5. Tennis elbow
Tennis elbow is a type of repetitive motion injury caused by excessive strain on the elbow ligaments. This type of sports injury is common in sports such as tennis and golf.
The best way to prevent tennis elbow is to perform stretching exercises and take frequent breaks between movements.
6. Shin splints
Shin splints refer to the inflammation of the muscles, tendons, and other tissue around the shinbone or tibia caused by repetitive stress and high impact movements associated with sprinting, dodging, or abrupt stops and starts. This type of injury is common among runners, soccer players, and basketball players.
Proper stretching, wearing good shoes, and resting periodically are the most effective preventive measures.
7. Back pain
Almost every sport puts stress on your back and spine. This tension can cause inflammation around the vertebrae and back muscles, leading to disc damage and often upper or lower back discomfort.
Treatment for sports-related back pain ranges from rest and physical therapy to surgery, depending on the severity.
Contact sports may result in fractures of the bone (most commonly in the arms, legs, and feet), which are a more serious type of sports injury that can necessitate weeks of immobilization and sometimes even surgical intervention.
You can minimize the risk by wearing adequate protective equipment, warming up, exercising to maintain flexibility, and practicing proper technique. It is important not to “play through the pain” because this may indicate a strain or sprain that, if left untreated, could make the bone more susceptible to fracture.
A dislocation occurs when the ends of your bones shift out of place. Soccer and basketball are contact sports that often cause this type of sports injury. Symptoms include intense pain, swelling, and inability to move the affected limb.
Concussion occurs when a rapid blow to the head forces the brain to lurch within the skull, injuring tissues in the brain tissues. Symptoms may include loss of consciousness and headaches.
Since concussions are more severe sports injuries that can lead to complications, they should be treated immediately by a physician who specializes in head injuries.