There is always a risk of getting hurt during any physical activity. However, the risk increases when you participate in sports. Sports are one of the most common causes of injury. It can happen in high-contact sports such as football or soccer and even non-contact sports such as tennis or track. In fact, 90% of student-athletes have reported having some sports-related injury. 54% of them admitted to playing sports while injured.
Here’s something even more interesting. According to the Senior Faculty Editor of Harvard Health Publishing, Robert Shmerling, M.D., women are more prone to sports injuries than men. That’s because we are biologically built differently than men. We have higher estrogen levels, hence less muscle mass, looser ligaments, wider pelvises, and a narrower space within the knee (where the ACL passes through, more on that later).
But having higher estrogen levels than men doesn’t stop us from playing the sports we love. It does mean that we must take care of ourselves more often and learn to listen to our bodies. Sports injuries are recurring, but they are not inevitable. They can be prevented, and treatment is available for all kinds of sports injuries as well. That said, here are the most common injuries you can encounter in sports, their treatments, and prevention:
Most Common Sport Injuries
1. Strains and Sprains
Did you know that ankle sprains are the most common sports injuries overall? According to the Board of Certification for the Athletic Trainer (BOC), there are two million acute ankle sprains each year; that’s only in the United States. Ankle sprains account for 30% of sports injuries. Twenty percent of ankle sprains are most associated with basketball, 9.3% football, then 7.9% soccer. It is also most common in people between the ages of 10 to 19 years old.
2. Knee Injuries
The most common part affected when you have a knee injury is the anterior cruciate ligament or the ACL. Anyone familiar with sports is familiar with ACL injuries. You usually injure your ACL when you make fast, twisting motions. This is the most common in sports such as basketball, football, soccer, and skiing. But really, it can affect anyone. In a year, there are 150,000 to 200,000 ACL injuries reported.
3. Rotator Cuff Injuries
This is an injury to your shoulder. The rotator cuff is made up of tissues and tendons. This is what allows your shoulder to move and stay stable. Sports that have repeated overhead motions, such as tennis and badminton, can result in a rotator cuff injury. It can also affect those that carry heavy weights.
4. Bone Fractures
Broken bones are a little harder to prevent, as this can be caused by bad falls or collisions. However, it can also be caused by conditions such as osteoporosis. A bone fracture can occur due to overuse. These are called stress fractures and are usually tiny cracks in the bone. If left untreated, it can get worse. That’s why it’s important to drink your calcium (you can read about it below).
Like bone fractures, dislocated bones and joints can also be hard to prevent as it is caused by falls or collisions. A dislocated bone is just as bad as a broken bone. These are both considered severe injuries, and you should seek medical attention right away.
Have you ever heard of the R.I.C.E. method? This is a form of early treatment for sports injuries. It stands for:
Whenever you encounter a sports injury, this is the easiest and best form of early treatment for your injury. Sometimes, small sports injuries such as strains and sprains will only require the R.I.C.E. method. But if you feel any more pain or discomfort, you might have to turn to other treatment forms. This can be in the form of pain-relievers, surgery (rare), immobilization (splint or casts), chiropractic treatment, physical therapy, or rehabilitation.
Some sports injuries can be difficult to prevent, especially injuries that are caused by collisions or falls. However, you can prevent injuries caused by weak muscles, overuse, and such.
1. Always warm-up
One thing to remember is that proper preparation and conditioning is essential. When you do any strenuous activity, you have to prepare your body for it to prevent injury. That’s why it’s important to always warm-up and stretch.
2. Build muscle where needed
You should also work on strengthening your muscles. Take sprains, for example. The most common reason for ankle sprains is that the muscles around that area are weak. Aside from stretching, you must strengthen your muscles by doing some resistance training. Resistance training is a great way to build muscle and strength. However, make sure that you only use the most appropriate weight for you to avoid further strain.
3. Rest when you need to
You must learn how to listen to your body and give yourself a rest. There is such a thing as an overuse injury. Overusing certain muscles can cause more injury. You must learn to pace yourself and when you need to stop. Contrary to popular belief, muscles aren’t built in the gym. They’re built when you’re resting. When you are training, your muscles are tearing. It’s when you rest that your muscles can repair and grow bigger and stronger.
4. Take care of your nutrition
What you put into your body is also very important. You have to make sure that you are eating well, consuming enough calories, and regularly taking your vitamins. Calcium is especially important for women. Why is that? The average woman doesn’t intake enough calcium. This is why over nine million women are affected by osteoporosis. This makes your bones weaker and has a higher risk of getting fractured.
Remember, sports injuries might be an ever-present danger, but they can be prevented. Make sure to follow the prevention advice to ensure that you’re playing your best. Getting hurt is not a heroic act. It’s the last thing you want to happen to you.