Being athletic helps you stay healthy, but it also puts you at risk for common athletic injuries.
Those injuries range from minor sprains that sideline you for a few days to major injuries that could require surgery or even end your athletic career.
Whether you’re active recreationally or play competitive sports, being aware of potential injuries can help you avoid them. Cutting your risks of injury helps you stay active and continue participating in the sports you love.
Check out these nine common sports injuries and ways to prevent them.
1. Sprains and Strains
Sprains and strains are the same injuries, but they affect different tissues. Both happen when the tissue gets stretched farther than normal or torn.
Sprains affect ligaments, which connect your bones to your joints. Ligaments in your ankles and wrists are susceptible to sprains.
Strains happen when a muscle or tendon is affected. The tendons are what connect your muscles to your bones. Hamstring and back strains are common.
Both are classified into three grades, which describe the severity of the injury.
Grade one is a minor injury with overstretching but no tears. Grade two describes a partial tear and can cause joint instability and interference with your range of motion. Grade three happens when the tissue tears completely or ruptures and can take several months for recovery.
To prevent sprains and strains, always warm up your muscles fully before you start playing a sport or working out. Dynamic warmups get your muscles ready for intense activity. It helps them become more flexible to reduce the chance of injury.
2. Knee Injuries
The knees are susceptible to a number of injuries while you’re active. A common athletic injury is patellofemoral syndrome, also called runner’s knee.
It typically causes pain in the front of your knee. It can happen with overuse or if you have a muscle imbalance.
Warming up well and strengthening your leg muscles equally to prevent an imbalance can help prevent this knee injury. Changing up your activities can also help if the knee pain and inflammation are due to overuse.
3. Hyperextended Elbow
A hyperextended elbow happens when your elbow bends back beyond how it’s supposed to move. The hyperextension can cause injury to the soft tissues and bones in your elbow, including dislocations and breaks.
Hyperextension sometimes happens while weightlifting if you use weights that are too heavy. Gymnasts are susceptible to hyperextension, as are those who play contact sports.
Treatment depends on the severity of the hyperextension and the damage it causes.
4. ACL Tear
Your knee and leg bone connect via the ACL. This important ligament is susceptible to injury, including tears, in certain sports.
Athletes who frequently change directions, pivot sharply, or take impacts to the side of the knee may end up with an ACL tear.
For minor tears, you may just need to rest the knee until it can heal. In severe cases, you may need surgery to repair the tear. Physical therapy may also be necessary.
Prevention starts with proper footwear to give you support.
Concussions happen when you take a blow to the head.
Signs of a concussion include:
- Balance issues
- Concentration difficulty
- Loss of consciousness
You may not experience all the symptoms. The severity of the concussion often affects the symptoms you experience.
Contact sports, such as football, hockey, and boxing, have a higher risk of concussion because of the potential for getting hit in the head. Soccer players are also at risk when they take headers.
Sports where falls are a possibility, such as skiing or gymnastics, can also result in a concussion. Hitting your head when you fall can cause brain injury.
Bone fractures often happen in contact sports. You can also fracture bones if you fall during activities, such as skiing, gymnastics, or biking.
Stress fractures happen when your muscles can’t handle the impact of your activity. The bones then take on too much stress, which can cause tiny fractures.
Preventing an impact fracture can be difficult, but using protective equipment can help.
To prevent stress fractures, try cross-training and strengthening muscles. Wear supportive shoes, and avoid pushing yourself too far.
Dislocations happen at your joints when they pop out of their normal position. This often happens if you take a blow during contact sports or fall and land with force.
You can usually see that the joint is out of place. It needs to be pushed back into place. You may not be able to use the joint until that happens.
Suiting up in protective gear for your sport can help prevent dislocations.
8. Shin Splints
If you’ve ever felt pain in the fronts of your legs while running, you’ve likely experienced shin splints. They’re minor in terms of sports injuries, but they can be uncomfortable.
Shin splints often happen when you’re pushing yourself more than normal. Maybe you’re just starting a running program, or you’re running much longer or faster than normal. Running on paved surfaces can also increase your chances of shin splints.
To prevent the pain, ease into more strenuous workout programs. Running on softer surfaces, such as grassy areas, can also reduce the risks. You’ll also want supportive shoes designed for running.
9. Tennis Elbow
Pain in your elbow may be caused by tennis elbow, even if you’ve never played the game. It’s typically an overuse injury caused when you repeat the same action frequently.
Tendons in your arm become inflamed and may result in pain in your elbow. It can make it difficult to grip or do motions with your hands and wrists without pain.
Building muscles in your arms can help. Always stretch and warm-up to get the muscles ready. Varying your athletic activities can also help.
Prevent Common Athletic Injuries
Being aware of common athletic injuries helps you better prepare for them. Take the proper precautions to keep yourself safe and healthy whenever you’re physically active. Visit the rest of our blog for more health tips.