Common Sports Injuries and How to Prevent Them
Cynthia Madison explains how athletes can prevent common sports injuries.
Sedentary lifestyles have a detrimental effect on our overall health. It is true that being more active can be very rewarding both in terms of fitness, but also when it comes to emotional resilience.
Numerous studies are pointing towards the usefulness of exercising in combating symptoms of anxiety and depression. Your body releases serotonin and mood-regulating endorphins, and it helps with blood circulation and brain cell growth.
But that does not mean that it is without its dangers. Whether you exercise a little on the weekend, maybe play a sport with your friends, or you are very athletic and train every day, there are some precautions you need to take to prevent common sports injuries.
This type of injury is commonly known as “pulling a muscle”, and it means your muscle has been overstretched or torn. This injury can be the result of fatigue, over-exercising, or improper technique. It occurs most frequently in the neck, shoulders, lower back, and hamstrings.
Muscle strains can be quite painful and limit your movements. The milder cases can be treated with anti-inflammatory medication, elevation, and by applying ice or heat to the affected area. If the injury is more severe, you may need to see a medical professional.
How to Prevent
The most efficient ways of preventing muscle strains are to do a proper warm-up before participating in a sport or starting your exercise routine. You also need to do a program of stretching and strengthening these vulnerable muscle groups, and make sure you have good posture and technique when lifting heavyweights. Ideally, you should do it in front of a mirror and with a spotter (someone that stands by in case they need to remove the weights and can tell you if you are not maintaining the correct posture).
Be warned that a Grade III strain means that the muscle is torn all the way through and can cause complete loss of function and you will need to see a specialist. Suppose you plan to compete in a marathon or you are training for a professional sports event. In that case, you will want to research medical centres which can cater to athletes and Medical Negligence Solicitors. A severe injury treated inadequately can end your career.
Spraining an ankle is another common sports injury, usually considered minor. It means that the ligaments (bands of tight tissues that connect the foot to the bones of the leg) have been stretched beyond their normal range or torn. There will be some swelling and bruising, and you will feel pain when you place weight on that ankle.
If you sprained your ankle, you should see a doctor rule out any fractures or severe injury to the ankle joint. For milder cases, you will get a brace and a prescription for anti-inflammatory medication. You will have to rest for about ten days, but you will not be able to do any strenuous sports for several weeks, and you will need to first check with your doctor.
In rare cases, the ligament will have to be reconstructed surgically, and rehabilitation will require physical therapy.
How to Prevent
To avoid spraining your ankles, you need to be extra careful when exercising or playing sports on an uneven surface. Therefore it would be best not to do it when you are sleep-deprived. You also need to wear the right kind of shoes for the sport in question and that they fit well. They are designed to minimize the risk of injury. If you have already had a history of ankle strains, you need to wear a prophylactic ankle brace.
We have all heard of great athletes who had to retire because of knee injuries. They are very common among these professionals, and they stem from either overuse like Patellofemoral syndrome or runner’s knee, direct force applied to the knee such as receiving a blow, falling or twisting and bending which can lead to ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) injuries.
How to Prevent
You need to wear appropriate shoes that absorb some of the pressure, develop an exercising routine that corrects strength and flexibility imbalances, and strengthen your quadriceps which hold the kneecap in place. You still have to do proper warm-up and stretching exercises.
Achilles Tendinitis or Tear
Achilles Tendinitis usually happens to runners or athletes involved in sports with a lot of running and jumping. The Achilles tendon connects the calf muscles to the heel bone, and it can get inflamed and painful from strain, and in more severe cases, it can tear. Ruptures typically occur about 2 ½ inches or 6 centimetres above the point where the tendon attaches to the heel as this region has less blood flow.
Surgery to repair a rupture in the Achilles tendon involves stitching it back together or removing a degenerated portion, replacing it, and fixing the rest. The operation is performed by an orthopaedic surgeon and does not require general anaesthesia. For the first 6 to 12 weeks after the procedure, you will need to wear a cast or a walking boot. Complete recovery takes several months.
How to Prevent
It is essential to have a stretching and warming up routine before you start jogging or any sport that involves a lot of running. Wearing the proper shoes will reduce some of the stress from the impact on the ground. By working out your calf muscles, you will be indirectly strengthening your Achilles' tendons.
Stress fractures occur more frequently in the feet and entail fine breaks in the bone resulting from overuse. They are associated with sports like running, football or basketball, etc. The metatarsals (bones in the middle part of the foot) are particularly vulnerable to stress fractures. Diagnosis is established through bone scans or MRI since the fractures can be too small for X-rays to show. The treatment takes 6 to 8 weeks and may involve wearing a cast, but it is not always necessary.
How to Prevent
To prevent stress fractures, you need to make sure you get enough calcium and vitamin D, get proper shoes, and be careful when changing running surfaces such as switching from a treadmill to asphalt. When increasing the duration or intensity of your running, it should be done by no more than 10% from week to week.
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About the Author
Cynthia Madison is a young blogger and economics and marketing graduate.