Sports injuries are common among people who frequently do fitness and sports activities. If you’re one of them, chances of getting injured during intense or high impact sports are high. But it doesn’t mean you won’t be able to prevent sports injuries. In fact, by preparing well for the activity and abiding by the rules, you can significantly reduce injury risks. Some of the tips to prevent these are:
- Warm up your body before the activity
- Practice and play most often
- Become active and mindful during the game
- Understand the rules and abide by them
- Use proper sports gear
- Train with a skilled coach
These general tips can help you avoid sports injuries. However, they also vary based on the type of sports activity, the age group of players, and environment, etc. For example, children are at a greater risk of sports injuries. Each year, sports or recreational activities account for injuries in more than 3.5 million children aged 14 or younger. HealthGrove has compiled a list of sports that resulted in the highest average injury each year. According to the data, Basketball accounted for 119,589 injuries, followed by football and soccer with an average number of injuries of 118,886 and 45,475 respectively.
These staggering numbers demand a need for adopting safety measures in sports activities. In this guide, we’ll break down different sports injuries and how you can reduce your chances of injury.
What are Some Common Sports Injuries?
If you actively participate in sports and fitness activities, you should know about different injuries a person can receive. The most common ones are:
These injuries occur as a result of bending, twisting, or blow. Sometimes, movement in a limited direction can also cause severe wounds. Knee injuries have different types such as:
- Ligament tears
- Tendon tears
- Meniscal tears
Signs of a knee injury:
- Inability to extend your knee fully
- Unable to put weight on it
- Severe pain and inflammation
The most common signs of knee injury are pain and swelling. If left untreated, the pain can become intense and restrict your movement. Physiotherapists and physicians recommend bed rest in case of a severe knee injury to make a faster recovery. You can also apply ice and use a compression sleeve to help with the pain.
High impact sports can result in tiny tears and breaks on the bone. These fractures occur when your bone is exposed to repetitive stress during jumping, running, climbing, and hiking, etc. Fracture due to continuous stress is called a stress fracture. It’s extremely painful and annoying. On the other hand, you can also get injured by a direct blow to your bone during soccer, basketball, and baseball, which is called an acute fracture. By limiting the use of your injured bone and getting rest, you can heal your fracture fast.
Examples of common sports fractures are:
Broken leg – Tibia and fibula bones can break as a result of high impact sports and leave you with excruciating pain.
Ankle avulsion – A piece of your bone is pulled along with a tear in your ligament or tendon, which’s called ankle avulsion. The most common cause of ankle avulsion is sprained ankle.
Metatarsal fracture – It’s a tiny crack in one of your metatarsal bones. It’s also a common type of stress fracture of the bone.
Joint dislocation occurs when a bone or its part is forced out of its socket. The most commonly dislocated joint is the shoulder joint. The shoulder joint, which’s a ball-and-socket joint, can easily become dislocated if you strike the ball with force, hit the ground, or even accidentally hit another player. Slings are commonly prescribed after dislocation of the shoulder joint. It takes anywhere from a few weeks to a few months before you’re completely recovered.
If the problem is severe and you’re not getting better with time, seek medical advice. Your doctor or physiotherapist should treat your condition based on its severity and complexity. Once you have been treated, try these tips to ease your pain and discomfort.
- Don’t overburden your dislocated joint
- Get some rest and avoid any intense activity
- Use pain relievers to ease your symptoms
- Limit your range of motion
- Apply heat and ice therapy
- Wear sleeves or joint braces
If your symptoms have improved and the pain has subsided, you can resume your normal activities. In the case of football players, the return time after a dislocated shoulder is usually within six weeks. However, it varies based on injury type and sports activity.
Muscle soreness occurs as a result of pain and stiffness in your muscle fibers and connecting tissues. The condition is triggered by tiny tears in the muscles, which can be painful. It’s usually caused when you perform an exercise or play a sport that requires high physical fitness. You may get sore muscles during and right after your physical activity. However, it can also develop a few days after exercise, which is called delayed onset muscle soreness.
Muscle soreness can be a sign that your muscles are getting bigger and stronger. The reason is that during exercise, your muscles are mostly used, which causes the fibers to break down. These fibers then start to repair themselves and become stronger in the process. However, there’s also some research that suggests otherwise.
Here are a few ways you can get rid of sore muscles:
- Use over the counter pain relievers
- Take a break
- Massage the affected area
- Do yoga
- Perform physical therapy
- Apply cold and heat therapy
Achilles tendonitis is the irritation and inflammation of the tendon that runs down the back of your lower leg. If you’re an athlete or someone who plays sports or runs frequently, you’re at risk of developing achilles tendonitis. It’s most common in people who increase the intensity or duration of their fitness activities. Some of the common symptoms of achilles tendonitis are:
- Intense pain a day after exercising
- Pain and stiffness in the morning
- Bone spurs
- Pain and inflammation in the achilles tendon
While the condition may not be as severe as it sounds, the recovery time, however, can take months. It’s better to understand your problem and get help from a physician. If left untreated, achilles tendonitis can worsen and result in tendon rupture. You can play low impact sports or remain physically active to allow the recovery process. Along with home treatment and taking over the counter medicines, you can also use compression socks and knee sleeves for faster recovery.
Strain is a type of injury that’s caused by stretching or overuse of certain muscles or tendons. It’s most common among fitness trainers, runners, athletes, swimmers, and soccer players. It can be either acute or chronic and occur mostly in your neck, hamstring, shoulders, and lower back. Your muscles or tendons stretch or tear during a strain injury, which can be extremely painful.
Usually, acute strain injuries can be healed after getting some rest and applying cold or heat therapy. If the condition is chronic, you may need to seek medical advice. Your doctor will thoroughly examine the affected area and suggest an X-ray to rule out the possibility of bone fracture.
Muscles that you may pull during sports:
Quadriceps – These are the muscles at the front of your thigh. Strain in your quadricep muscles may be due to stretching or a forceful blow. For a mild strain in your quad, it can take up to a week to get better.
Hamstring – These are the muscles at the back of your thigh. Hamstring strain can be either severe or mild, based on your condition and its associated pain. Along with applying home therapies, you can take anti-inflammatory drugs to relieve the symptoms.
RICE Technique For Treating Sports Injuries
The easiest and most common treatment method that you can use is the RICE technique. For someone suffering from a sports injury, RICE treatment can significantly reduce the symptoms and reduce pain. RICE stands for:
Rest – You must get some rest to help your affected area heal without any unnecessary use. While at rest, your body will be able to focus on the injured area and give it extra attention for quick relief and faster recovery.
Ice – If you’ve acute pain and injury, using an ice pack can help. Not only does it minimize swelling but it also reduces muscle spasm and pain. You can use ice packs right after a sports injury or within the first 48 hours to maximize pain reduction.
Compression – Compressing the affected area with bandage or compression sleeve helps reduce blood flow. Hence, the swelling is reduced significantly. You need to decrease swelling because it causes more pain and thus causes further complications.
Elevation – Elevation is done by keeping your injured body part above your heart level. It’s another useful way to minimize the flow of blood and other fluids to the affected area. Hence your injured area recovers faster.
Over the Counter Medication for Sports Injury
Besides the RICE technique, you can also use other ways to reduce discomfort and pain associated with your sports injury. For example, you can use over-the-counter medicines such as paracetamol.
You can also use nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to reduce pain and inflammation due to injury.
While these medicines can reduce discomfort and ease your pain, you shouldn’t rely on them alone. Because there may be some side effects of using a certain group of medicines, for example, those that are steroidal in nature. Also, it’s better to consult with your physiotherapist or medical practitioner for advice and help with the drugs you choose.
Should you Seek Medical Advice for Sports Injury?
While most of the time acute sports injuries can be relieved by using the RICE technique or over the counter medications. However, some cases are too severe to be helped with at home. In such cases, it’s better to consult with your doctor or physiotherapist and seek medical advice.
If you’ve been injured in a sports or exercise activity and the condition is severe, you may also seek emergency care. Some of the signs that you need medical advice are:
- Instability in your injured part of the body
- Unable to bear load even after a few weeks
- Severe swelling, pain, and inflammation
- Serious deformities due to injury
Along with these direct symptoms of severe sports injury, there are also other secondary symptoms that indicate you need medical support. Main of them are:
- Inability to breath
- Swelling or redness
How to Prevent Sports Injuries?
Preventive measures can significantly reduce the risks of developing sports injuries. There are many ways you can ensure your safety during sports. Some of them are:
Warm up before the game – Warm up is one of the most useful techniques to prevent injuries. The reason is that muscles that are not warmed up are prone to tears, overstretching, and stressing. On the other hand, warm muscles have the capacity to absorb shocks, bends, and jerks due to their flexible and elastic nature.
Play most often – If you are new to a certain sport or have not played for a long time, chances are you might be unfamiliar with sports conditions. Not only does the environment change, but the fitness level and intensity can also vary significantly. This unfamiliarity may expose you to extra injuries and fitness challenges.
Become active and mindful – It’s important to be active and vigilant while playing sports. If you’re not actively performing, your muscles, ligaments, and tendons may not get the necessary energy to abruptly adapt. As a result, you may get injured quickly.
Follow the rules – It’s obvious as those players who try to break the rules may become exposed to possible injuries. You can eliminate potentially high risk injuries by following the rules of the game.
Use proper sports gear – Lacking the necessary tools and equipment required for the sport may cause your body parts to expose to injuries. Also, defective sports gears can cause extreme injuries.
Train with a skilled coach – Coaching helps you prepare for any uncertain situation and equips you with the necessary training so you can do well without getting wounded.
Sports injuries are common among athletes, professional sportsmen, high schoolers, and passionate players. These hundreds of healthy, recreational, and enthusiastic sports activities are accompanied by many problems: injuries and wounds. After learning about common sports injuries, treatment options, and preventive measures, you’ll be able to not only stay safe and healthy but also help other people with the support they need after a sports injury.