Athletes enjoy the benefits of living healthy, active lifestyles. However, activities like working out and competing in sports can place us at risk for injuries. There are 10 specific sports injuries to be aware of if you’re an athlete. While using proper form is important for avoiding injury, it’s also important to know that there are steps you can take for faster recovery. Take a look at what athletes should know about the 10 most common sports injuries.
Enough isn’t said about the dangers of suffering from a concussion. Concussions can be caused by blows to the head, impact from person-to-person collisions and falls. Here’s a look at the signs of a concussion:
- Nausea or vomiting.
- Balance problems.
- Double or blurry vision.
- Sensitivity to light or noise.
- Feeling sluggish or foggy.
- Concentration issues.
- Memory loss.
- Inability to recall what happened just prior to impact.
- Appearing dazed or stunned.
- Clumsy movements.
- Loss of consciousness.
- Slow speech.
Generally, symptoms will show up right after an injury has occurred. However, it could be hours or days before it becomes obvious that something is wrong. A suspected concussion requires immediate medical attention.
2. Shin Splints
Shin splints present as sharp, shooting pains that migrate down the front of the legs. Typically, they are caused by intense exercise. Long-distance runners are most likely to develop shin splints. Shin splints that don’t resolve with rest could actually be fractures.
3. Pulled Hamstrings
One of the most common injuries among athletes of all ages, a pulled hamstring can be extremely painful. Pulled hamstrings are typically caused by hyperextension of the leg during activity. Healing a hamstring fully typically requires weeks of rest.
4. Lower-Back Pain
Many different sports put people at risk for developing lower-back pain. It is actually a myth that only people who lead inactive lifestyles are at risk for lower-back pain because certain motions and postures that are required for various sports can easily lead to back pain. For instance, runners and golfers are at increased risk for lower-back pain because they are required to place strain on this part of the body. One of the simplest ways to prevent lower-back pain is to properly stretch and “warm up” prior to engaging in physical activity.
5. Tennis Elbow
Caused by the wearing down of tendons, tennis elbow can be one of the most painful sports injuries. Unfortunately, the repetitive motions required to hit a tennis ball using various strokes can wear down the tendons that join the forearm muscles on the outside portion of the elbow. In some cases, this can even lead to very small tears. The impacted area can become progressively inflamed without rest and treatment. Tennis elbow typically manifests as a pain on the outside of the elbow. It’s also possible to feel the pain radiating in the wrist and forearm.
6. Sprained Ankle
A sprained ankle can be one of the more difficult sports injuries to treat due to the fact that this injury can happen “in a flash” when playing sports. Sprained ankles typically occur when athletes are required to run, jump or make swift maneuvers quickly. Quick movement can unfortunately lead to a twisted ankle if the athlete makes even the slightest miscalculation. In some cases, a sprained ankle can actually be a more serious issue like a torn ligament or tendon.
7. Runner’s Knee
Pain that is concentrated around the kneecap is a telltale sign of a condition known as runner’s knee. However, the name of this injury is a bit deceptive because runners aren’t the only people who can get runner’s knee. It is quite common among cyclists, basketball players, swimmers and many other types of athletes. Generally, overuse that leads to inflammation is the underlying cause of runner’s knee. Prevention is important for people who put strain on their knees because this is really the only line of defense available. Training properly while focusing on building up endurance over time instead of simply “going full steam ahead” with training is essential. Warm-up and cool-down sessions are also extremely important for knee health!
8. Rotator Cuff Injuries
Common among athletes who swing their arms, rotator cuff injuries can be very painful. The rotator cuff is actually a group comprised of muscles and tendons right near the shoulder joint. They act to keep the bone of your upper arm secure in the shoulder’s shallow socket. The most obvious sign of a rotator cuff injury is a dull ache that can be felt in the shoulder area. The ache often escalates when the arm is used in a swinging motion. Prevention of a rotator cuff injury typically involves exercises that strengthen the shoulders.
9. Groin Strains
Located in the inner-thigh area, the groin muscles create a fan shape that helps us to squeeze our legs together. Typically, people who engage in sports that require rigorous side-to-side movements are at greater risk for groin strains. The most common cause of a groin strain is spreading the legs too far apart during sports activities.
10. Torn Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL)
The ACL is responsible for controlling knee movement. Athletes who sustain ACL injuries typically become injured by suddenly stopping or changing direction in the middle of a movement. A fast, miscalculated maneuver can unfortunately cause the ACL to stretch to the point of tearing. This is a very serious injury that often requires serious therapies and surgery.
Prevention and Preparation: Some Insights for How to Stop Common Sports Injuries
A sports injury isn’t just a fluke. Millions of Americans endure sports injuries each year. In fact, data from the National SAFE KIDS Campaign and the American Academy of Pediatrics shows that 3.5 million children ages 14 and younger are injured each year while playing sports or participating in recreational activities.
For people who love sports, the answer is not to simply stop participating in physical activities just because there is a risk of injury. The more realistic answer is to become aware of preventative measures that will allow you to reduce the odds of being injured while working out or participating in competitive sports. One benefit of focusing on injury prevention is that putting the emphasis on technique also tends to improve athletic performance. Here are some tips for preventing injury:
- Always wear appropriate gear when participating in sports. This can mean everything from wearing headgear while boxing to investing in high-performance sneakers for “amateur” running. One of the biggest mistakes that people make is to assume that they don’t need professional gear just because they aren’t participating in competitive sports. “Weekend warriors” need to wear proper gear and protection to avoid what can become life-altering injuries! Do your research to see if things like helmets, goggles, pads and gloves are necessary before you get into a new sport.
- When beginning a new sport or hobby, gradually increase activity instead of going “all in” right away. It’s important to work your way up in intensity to avoid strain that can result in pulls and tears. Going in too fast can actually set you back by months if you injure yourself in the process!
- Stretch before and after activity! Many people focus on pre-workout stretches because they want to get the best performance. However, they are quick to wrap up a workout without stretching again because they don’t see the benefit. Post-workout stretching is essential for long-term muscle health and performance.
- Make rest as much of a priority as training! Many people overdo it because they equate rest with weakness. Professional athletes understand that rest is every bit as vital as training when it comes to giving muscles and tendons what they need to repair.
- Fortify your body with good sleep, nutrition and hydration. Your muscles can only give back what you put into them! You can’t expect peak performance if you’re being relaxed about diet and sleep quality.
Awareness is truly the first line of defense against sports injuries! Prevention doesn’t just start when you’re in performance mode. Sleep and nutrition are also important for keeping your body in optimal condition to avoid unnecessary injuries. Many athletes also find that continual chiropractic care helps them to keep their bodies in top condition to prevent injury.