Competitive sports season is in full swing, and if you’re an athlete, its time to start prepping.
You’re getting your cardio in, and focusing on strength-conditioning to get ready for opening day. But, are you preparing yourself if things go south during the season from an injury?
Sports injuries can sideline an athlete for a couple of days or even an entire season. It’s always good to inform yourself on the types of injuries that may occur, and what you can do to get back in the line-up
In this article, we’ll take a look at the most common sports injuries and what you can do to get back on the field as quickly as possible.
An ankle sprain is one of the most common injuries you see in sports. A sprained ankle occurs when one of the ligaments in your ankle gets overstretched or has small tears.
This happens in sports that require quick movements such as running, pivoting, or jumping.
Athletes that participate in basketball, hockey, football, tennis, and even skateboarding are all prone to ankle sprains.
- You may hear a loud “crack” followed by sudden pain and discomfort
- Bruising may occur
- Pain may increase when you put pressure on your foot when you stand
- Swelling around the ankle and general discomfort
An ankle sprain is treated with ice and anti-inflammatory medicine to keep the swelling and pain to a minimum. The ankle can be wrapped to help with support.
Wearing a walking boot or ankle brace may be necessary. Using crutches will also help keep weight off the ankle during recovery. Seeking treatment with a sports chiropractor can also speed up your recovery time.
Rotator Cuff Tears
The rotator cuff is a series of tendons and muscles that wrap around the shoulder joint. These tendons keep the top of your upper arm bone securely within the shoulder socket.
This injury can occur from repetitive motion in the arm, or from a blunt-force impact such as falling on your shoulder.
Tearing your rotator cuff is common in sports that involve throwing, falling, getting tackled, or lifting weights. Rotator cuff injuries commonly affect football quarterbacks, shot put athletes, and baseball players.
- A dull ache in the shoulder area, which can worsen over time.
- Pain in your shoulder can wake you up from your sleep and can bother you during daily activities.
- Pain can be quick and intense if the rotator cuff is over-stretched by force.
Medication such as anti-inflammatory and Acetaminophen can help manage pain symptoms.
Physical therapy and chiropractic treatment can help with symptoms for grade I and II tears. If there is a complete tear in the rotator cuff, a surgical repair may be required.
Have you ever had your shins start throbbing and aching after your daily run—or even worse, during your run?
Shin splints occur when the muscles around the shinbone are over-worked. This causes the tissues to swell and leaves you with inflammation and pain in the shin area.
Sports that involve stomping, sprinting, running, or skating can make you more susceptible to shin splints. They can also result from:
- Flat-footing your steps
- Footwear that doesn’t fit properly
- overexerted muscles without proper stretching or warming up
- dull aching sensation in the front of your lower leg,
- swelling on either side of the shin bone.
- Inflammation in the lower part of your leg.
- Tenderness and soreness in the lower leg region.
Developing shin splints is the body’s way of telling you that you’re overworking the muscles. Take some time off and let your body recover naturally with adequate rest.
Make sure to put ice on the affected area and keep your legs elevated to reduce swelling. Wearing compression wraps and lightly massaging the area with a foam roller can help ease the pain and discomfort associated with shin splints.
A groin strain is a tear or a pull of the adductor muscles, which consists of five muscles located on the inner side of the thighs. Most people refer to it as a “pulled groin muscle.”
This injury is often seen in sports such as Hockey, Track, Basketball, and Football.
Other ways of straining your groin muscle can be from resistance training, weightlifting, mixed martial arts, or wrestling.
- You may feel a dull pain felt in the inner thigh or a loss of strength in the upper leg.
- Sudden sharp pain can occur when flexing the thigh muscles.
- Bruising may occur in the thigh region, along with difficulty walking or running.
- You may also hear and feel a “snap” at the time of the injury.
After the injury, it is best to treat within the first 24-48 hours. As with most muscle injuries use the following protocol:
Physical therapy, massage therapy can help speed up your recovery time. In the most severe cases, surgery may be the only option.
Hip Flexor Strain
Hip flexors help you move your knees and legs towards and away from your upper body. Until you recover, it’s hard to do normal day-to-day activities.
People who participate in martial arts, wrestling, soccer, and hockey, are more prone to hip flexor strain injuries.
People who weightlift or participate in extreme workout activities such as CrossFit can also be susceptible to this type of injury.
- Sudden pain resonating from the hip or pelvis area
- Muscle spasms
- The inability to kick or run
- General discomfort in the hip region
Like most injuries, resting the muscles are the most common way to get back on your feet. Wearing a compression wrap and treating the area with ice for 15 to 20 minutes for the first 48 hours is vital.
On the third day, begin to apply heat compresses several times a day and continue using compression wraps until the pain starts to ease.
Physical therapy will help if your symptoms remain after 1-2 weeks. The following stretches can help with your hip flexor pain and prevent re-injury once you progress in your recovery.
- Seated Butterfly Stretches
- Straight leg raises
- Bridge Pose
The ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) are a pair of ligaments that help stabilize the knee. This injury often occurs in a sport where you pivot or change direction in a quick motion.
Quick changes in direction (Juking) can cause the ligaments to strain or tear. ACL injuries can also occur from blunt-force impacts to the knee from a tackle or falling awkwardly.
Athletes that participate in sports that involve running, hitting, and tackling are more likely for an ACL injury to occur.
- You may hear a loud “pop” or “snap” in the knee
- Limited range of motion when extending your leg
- Rapid swelling is likely to occur in the first 24 hours
- Severe pain
- The feeling of your knee “giving way
X-rays or a CT scan will tell you what type of treatment you will need.
In less severe cases, you may only need to ice your knee and give yourself some time to rest.
In cases where there is to complete tear in the ACL, you may need to undergo physical therapy and surgery. Surgery involves removing the damaged ACL and replacing it with a new ligament.
Physical therapy can last anywhere from 8 weeks to as long as a full year. With proper treatment, you can expect a full recovery from an ACL injury.
The hamstring consists of three muscles located in the back of the thigh. These muscles can get strained or tear from overextension or overexertion.
Hamstring injuries often occur in athletes who run—especially sprinting.
The frustrating part of hamstring strains is that they take a considerable amount of time to heal—In some cases, 6-12 months.
- Sudden pain associated with a “popping” noise in the back of the thigh
- Swelling and areas of tenderness can radiate from the back of the thigh
- Pain can also go down your leg and as high as your hips
Rest from strenuous activities, so the injury has time to heal. Ice the area several times a day 15 to 20 minutes to keep the swelling down.
If possible, elevate your leg above the level of your heart. Doing this will also help minimize the swelling.
Use compression bandages on the area and use crutches to keep weight off of the leg affected.
Depending on the extent of the injury, physical therapy or surgery may be required for a full recovery.
Tennis Elbow (lateral epicondylitis)
Tennis Elbow is a typical stress-induced injury from the upper forearm muscles being overused. For example, hitting a ball with a tennis racquet causes stress to the muscles and tendons. This repeated stress can cause small fibers to tear in the muscle
You are more susceptible to Tennis Elbow If you use lousy technique or you don’t grip the tennis racquet correctly
Tennis elbow can also happen from overexertion while lifting weights, and doing routine jobs such as painting, typing, and hammering.
- You may experience pain and soreness in the forearm muscles
- Stiffness with constant aches can happen around the area of the elbow
- Inflammation and swelling can be found in or around the forearm area
- pain when grabbing or holding in your hand
To help decrease the redness and swelling, ice your elbow for 20 minutes several times a day. Consider purchasing a splint or elbow strap to help rest your forearm.
Physical therapy may be needed to regain mobility from your injury. Massage therapy and chiropractic treatments are vital to prevent damage from reoccurring.
Knee Injury (patellofemoral syndrome)
Knee injuries are the bread and butter of sports injuries. The most common type is Patellofemoral syndrome.
Patellofemoral syndrome occurs from the repetitive motion of the knee. This motion puts pressure on your femur, thus damaging the tissue below the knee.
Knee injuries can also occur when forced trauma occurs to the knee, such as falling on your knees or getting hit.
- You may feel a “pop” or hear a “snap” when the injury occurs
- Soreness and tenderness may occur on or around the knee
- You may also experience reduced motion in your knee
- burning sensation under your knee cap, or difficulty bending the knee
Treatment varies based on the extent of the injury. If the degree of the injury is minimal, rest, ice, compression, and elevation may be all that you need.
If the injury is more severe, physical therapy will be needed to regain movement and strength in your knee.
In extreme cases, surgery may be required for a full recovery.
How Can I Prevent These Common Sports Injuries?
No athlete wants to be on the sideline for weeks at a time. According to Soli Chiropractic, the best plan of action to prevent common sports injuries is to to do the following.
Doing any physical activity cold is a bad idea. Give your body time to adjust with light running, small drills, and moderate exercises.
Sprains and strains occur from the muscle or ligaments getting overstretched. Stretching your muscles will help activate your full range of motion in the muscles, which can prevent injury.
Participating in yoga or Pilates will also help prevent soreness and tenderness after competing or working out.
There’s a reason why athletes still train during the offseason. Most of the time, they will spend time conditioning their muscles and upping their cardio.
Strengthening your muscles, tendons, and core will act as extra protection when dealing with the physical demands of sports.
Nutrition plays a huge part in preventing injuries. Your body can become weaker when it lacks the proper nutrition you need, thus making you more prone to injuries. In hind-sight, Your body will recover faster if you’ve been keeping up with your nutrition.
Don’t Get Sidelined
Let’s face it, sports injuries are the most frustrating part of the game. They may be frustrating, but they’re not death sentences.
Stay cautious on the field, and keep your body as healthy as possible!
But, if you do get injured, being informed on the steps to recovery is the best thing you can do to ensure you get back on the field as quickly as possible.
Did you find this article helpful? Leave us a comment below and let us know your thoughts.