Top 5 Preventable Sports Injuries
Summer’s almost over! This means that the fall sports season will be here in no time. If you’re anxious to get out on the field and start playing without any preparation, be warned! Failure to stretch, warm up, and/or condition is one of the leading causes of sports injuries.
Whether you swing a bat, racket, or hockey stick this fall, always follow your coach’s guidance, and always make sure you watch out for these preventable injuries!
- Sprains. A sprain occurs when ligaments of the ankle, elbow, shoulder, and/or other joints are overstretched, resulting in microscopic tears. The body’s response is pain, which tells you to stop using it. This helps you to prevent further injury and inflammation, a normal part of the healing response. Sprains are often the result of overuse injuries; when, for example, you repeatedly spike a volleyball overhead day after day, a shoulder sprain may occur.
- Tears. A tear (or a rip, or rupture) can happen to the tendons, ligaments, and cartilage throughout the body. Tears most commonly occur in or around the joints: ACL, MCL, and meniscus tears occur in the knee, rotator cuff tears in the shoulder, and labral tears in the shoulder or hip (just to name a few). Small or partial tears often can heal with rest and physical therapy – but if you’re diagnosed with a complete tear, surgery may be recommended.
- Fractures. A fracture is a break or crack in the bones. Fractures can occur in a few different ways (such as with trauma, tumors, hereditary disease, or repeatedly putting stress on a joint), but one of the most common reasons for fractures in athletes is blunt force trauma (a fall or hit). Football, hockey, and other contact sports have a higher risk for fractures.
- Concussion. A concussion, or a mild traumatic brain injury, occurs when the head has been impacted (often through a blow or fall). However, it doesn’t even have to be an impact – a rapid change in direction of the body can cause the brain to impact against the inside of the skull. This will typically cause a milder concussion, but if a head injury is severe enough, immediate loss of consciousness, disorientation and nausea/and vomiting can occur. Such cases are considered medical emergencies. Afterwards, (even with a slight concussion), post-concussion syndrome can occur, wherein symptoms can include headaches, difficulty concentrating, and confusion.
- Shin Splints. Shin splints, or Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome, are painful sensations in the lower legs that can result from working out too hard. The exact nature of shin splints is unknown, but many orthopedists believe that the pain comes from inflammation and minuscule tears in the muscle near the bone.
How to Prevent Sports Injuries
When sports injuries occur, treatment can take a while – anywhere from a couple weeks to several months or longer, depending on the severity. However, prevention can be quite easy!
Taking the time to properly stretch and warm up/cool down before and after practice and games, and wearing the appropriate protective gear is key!
Medically Reviewed by Dr. Roman Shulze