13 Most Common Sports Injuries

13 Most Common Sports Injuries

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The Injury
When the Achilles tendon at the back of the heel is overused—a common problem in running—it becomes painfully inflamed, a condition known as acute Achilles tendinits. The inflammation can cause stiffness of the tendon itself, and if it’s not treated immediately, it can take months to heal.

How to Recover
To begin recovery, start with the RICE method, and take anti-inflammatory medications, like ibuprofen or Aleve, as needed to help reduce swelling and settle the area down. To prevent re-injury, work on strengthening your calf muscles, gradually increasing the intensity of your exercises.

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The Injury
The anterior cruciate ligament is located inside your knee joint and can be strained or torn by sudden stops or changes in direction. Women are particularly susceptible to this injury, due to a strength imbalance between the muscles in the front and back of the thigh.

How to Recover
Your initial steps after injury should be to rest and ice your knee to reduce inflammation.  While an ACL tear requires surgery, ACL strains can be treated through physical therapy designed to restore normal joint movement and strengthen the muscles around the knee. Exercises could include toe raises, partial squats and riding a stationary bike. 

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The Injury
We’ve all been there—you’re out trail running or maybe you’ve just caught a Frisbee and are landing, when suddenly you roll your ankle and feel that short, hobbling burst of pain. You’ve sprained your ankle, which means you tore the ligaments that connect the three bones forming your ankle joint. Ankle sprains are common in sports that require running on uneven ground, jumping or frequently changing direction. Research indicates this injury accounts for 15-30% of all sports injuries, and more than 23,000 happen daily across the U.S.

How to Recover
As soon as you feel pain, have a seat, take weight off of it and let it recover. Use the tried-and-true RICE method (rest, ice, compression and elevation) to start the healing process. To prevent re-injury, try staying off the injured ankle as much as possible for the first few days. After that, you can start gradually exercising it on a stationery bike, but know that it won’t fully heal for eight to 12 weeks. To prevent future sprains, perform exercises that strengthen your ankles and work on improving your balance by standing on one foot while you perform daily tasks.  

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The Injury
Concussions are common in contact sports, and happen when head trauma—a fall, say—causes the brain to knock against the inside of the skull, rattling the senses and causing a range of symptoms that include disorientation, headaches, nausea, dizziness, amnesia, loss of balance, difficulty concentrating, and vision problems.

How to Recover
Recovery is simple: rest. Preventing re-injury isn’t as simple. The only surefire bet is to avoid contact sports, and that’s not always an option for athletes. It’s smart to always wear a helmet. Stay off the field or away from risk of another knock until you fully recover, a process that can sometimes take weeks. Be sure to seek medical help if symptoms are severe; returning to sports before you’re healed runs the risk of second impact syndrome, a potentially fatal condition.

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The Injury
The adductor muscles in the upper thigh help the legs open and close. Sudden changes of direction require them to do this too quickly, and that’s when problems can occur. Sports like soccer, basketball, football, volleyball, hockey and racket sports often demand sharp cuts and stops, which can strain the groin muscles. Sharp discomfort, swelling and bruising of the inner thigh are common symptoms and, in severe cases, a groin strain requires crutches to help reduce the weight load.

How to Recover
To recover from a groin pull, use the RICE method (go heavy on the ice) and take anti-inflammatories. The adductors command a large muscle group, and need to recede naturally before active recovery can progress. Stay away from strenuous activity for at least a week, and begin training for prevention gently. Start with lunges, which help exercise the opening and closing of the inner thighs, and then ease into light weights. Stretch before all exercises, and work back to pre-injury levels of activity gradually.

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The Injury

The hamstring is made up of three muscles that run along the back of the thigh. When one of these muscles stretches beyond its limit, a hamstring pull can occur.

The severity of an injury to any of the muscles increases along three grades. Grade one injuries are mild with no loss in muscle strength, grade two injuries are moderate and involve some loss of muscle strength, and grade three injuries are complete tears of the hamstring resulting in complete loss of strength.

How to Recover

Most hamstring injuries are only partial tears. To recover, rest, ice, compress and elevate (RICE) the muscle and take anti-inflammatories such as ibuprofen for the first week. Afterward, you can work with a physical therapist to create a tailored recovery program.

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The Injury

Common lower back strains are caused by any injuries to the muscles, nerves, ligaments, tendoms or blood vessels around the lumbar spine. Lower back strains can be results from improper form during exercise or heavy lifting, direct impact trauma, or even sleeping in an awkward position. 

How to Recover


In the first 24 to 48 hours after injury, use cold compresses for 20 minute increments.While bed rest is fine for a day or two, you should begin gentle movement soon after to reduce weakness and stiffness caused by the injury. To start, try slowly arching your back up and down. Next move onto bridge pose and work up to 12 to 15 repetitions of the exercise.

 

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The Injury

As the largest muscle in the body, the quadriceps can handle impressive feats in stamina, endurance, and strength. Without proper training, though, the quads can become common culprits for sport injuries. A quad strain is caused by the stretching or tearing of the muscle or tendon (the fibrous cord of tissue that connects muscles to bones). An athlete could experience two types of strains: acute or chronic. Acute strains occur when the muscle stretches unusually far or abruptly, and can be caused by numerous factors from slipping on ice to jumping. Chronic strains are the byproduct of prolonged, repetitive movement of the muscle and can happen in almost any sport.

How to Recover

Rest and ice the muscle as soon as the strain occurs to prevent further injury and excess inflammation. A physical therapist can prescribe stretches and exercises, such as leg raises or lunges, to build strength and regain range of motion. It’s important to do exercises through a pain-free ROM and to take note of any pain created by the movements. In this way, you can design the most safe and effective recovery plan.

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The Injury

The rotator cuff is made up of the muscles and tendons in your shoulder that connect your upper arm bone with your shoulder blade and keep your arm in its socket.  An injury involves irritation or damage to the rotator cuff and can be caused by falling, lifting or repetitive arm movements in sports such as baseball, swimming or rock climbing. Common issues include tendinitis and strains.

How to Recover

While rotator cuff injuries may involve surgery, most of the time exercise therapy is effective. Your doctor or a physical therapist will help you find exercises designed to improve the flexibility of your rotator cuff and shoulder muscles and create balanced shoulder strength. These might include internal and external rotations, elbow flexion, elbow extension and scapular retraction and protraction. Movements such as the crossover arm stretch and sleeper stretch can help with recovery.

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The Injury

The shinbone and its surrounding connective tissues can become inflamed by activities that create excessive force on the legs. These activities could include running downhill or sports that involve frequent starts and stops. Worn out shoes can also cause shin splints. 

 How to Recover

Most of the time, you can treat shin splints through basic self-care including rest, icing, over-the-counter pain reliever and purchasing proper shoes. Arch supports can also be used to cushion your foot and disperse stress on the shin bones.

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The Injury
Only a small percentage of athletes who get tennis elbow actually get it from a racket sport. Anything that heavily works the arm, forearm and hand muscles can inflame the tendons around the outside of the elbow. The elbow is a delicate area where powerful arm and forearm muscles meet fine tendons that control precise hand and wrist movements. When repeated overuse occurs, the two groups come into opposition. The muscles place great strain on the tendons, causing inflammation.

How to Recover
The first step to recovery is the popular RICE method, and anti-inflammatory medication as needed. Try to give the area extended rest periods when possible, and be careful not to lift anything heavy. To train for prevention, focus on exercises that gently strengthen the opposing muscles in the forearm, triceps and biceps.

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The Injury

Bursae are small, fluid-filled sacs that reduce friction in the moving parts of your joints. Hip bursitis occurs with the bursae in your hip become inflamed or irritated. The condition involves limited mobility and pain in the hip region, and becomes more common with age as the joints weaken. Even so, long-distance runners or cyclists may still experience hip bursitis. 

How to Recover

The first steps to recovery are to rest and ice the area. You should also visit your doctor. If the inflammation in your hip is caused by an infection, he can prescribe antibiotics. If the bursitis is from overuse, he will likely recommend physical therapy or exercises to strengthen the muscles around your hip. Physical therapy for hip bursitis could involve foam rolling to help release tight hip muscles, core stability exercises and drills such as lunges or squats.

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The Injury
Also known as “policeman’s heel,” this painful condition happens when the plantar fascia—a thick connective tissue that runs along the bottom of the foot and supports the arch—becomes inflamed. Causes range from naturally flat feet or, alternatively, very high arches; wearing worn-out shoes; overpronation during running; or simply standing for too long. This injury is one of the most common for runners, who often get it from poor running form that causes them to land repeatedly on their heels.

How to Recover
Recovery will be gradual, so take care to rest your feet. Stretch your calf and Achilles before exercising, and find a way to knead and massage the sole of your foot (try rolling it over something round, like a golf ball). If you’re in severe pain, ask a podiatrist for a splint that can be worn overnight to help support healthy. To avoid re-injure, be sure to replace worn sneakers immediately. Also, focus on your foot’s locomotion—on each stride, try landing gently on the heel and rolling through the foot to push off with the big toe.