A competitive spirit, the desire to stay physically fit, and a passion for the game are some of the reasons we love to participate in sports. Along with the many rewards, from victories earned to friendships forged, a major downside is the risk of a sports injury. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), over 7 million sports and recreation related injuries occur every year and more than half of them are sustained by those between the ages of 5 and 24.
In addition to children and adolescents, middle aged athletes and women are most vulnerable to sports injuries. Young athletes are more prone to injury since their bones, muscles, tendons and ligaments are still growing. Female athletes consistently have higher injury rates than men in several sports, especially basketball, soccer and skiing.
Types of Injuries that can take you out of the Game
Acute injuries like sprains, fractures, concussions and scratched corneas happen suddenly as the result of some sort of trauma. These injuries often occur when the proper equipment for the sport is not used or is used incorrectly.
Overuse injuries such as shin splints, swimmers shoulder and tennis elbow result from repetitive actions that put too much stress on the bones and muscles. Overuse injuries can be aggravated by playing the same sport year round, growth spurts, and not using the correct gear.
Reinjuries happen when athletes return to the playing field before a previous injury has completely healed. This places stress on the injury and puts the athlete at a higher risk of injuring another part of their body. Sudden exertion can cause a reinjury, so it’s best to ease back in gradually after healing completely from the previous injury.
5 Most Common Sports Injuries
1. Ankle Sprains — most common among soccer, basketball and hockey players and any sport that involves lots of running, jumping and turning quickly. An X-ray can rule out a possible fracture.
2. Shin Splints — a common reinjury that can be prevented by wearing good quality shoes and by lowering the intensity of the workout.
3. Concussions — happen most frequently in contact sports. Treatment involves resting and staying off the field for a few weeks. Multiple concussions can cause permanent damage.
4. Knee Injuries — occur most often among runners, cyclists, basketball and soccer players. This overuse injury leads to an irritation of the tendon below the knee cap and can usually be treated by resting and taking anti-inflammatory medication.
5. Pulled Muscles and Strains — common injuries that usually occur when athletes are tired or haven’t warmed up properly.
If you’d rather be on the playing field instead of the disabled list, reduce your chances of a sports injury by taking the following precautions:
- Get a pre sport physical to determine if you’re fit to play
- Use the right equipment and safety gear, making sure that everything fits and works properly
- Avoid playing when tired or in any pain
- Play on the right type of surface for the sport; one that’s not conducive to tripping and falling
- Follow the rules of the game
- Wear the right shoes for your sport that provide shock absorption and stability
- Do warm up and cool down stretches
- Accept your body’s limitations
Treating a Sports Injury
If you think that you have suffered a sports injury, stop the activity and begin treatment immediately. For an acute injury, attempt to reduce swelling by using the RICE method: rest, ice, compression and elevation. For more serious injuries like a possible concussion or fracture, seek medical attention as soon as possible for a proper diagnosis. To search symptoms and find providers or facilities in your area, download the free iTriage medical app or visit www.iTriageHealth.com