From Pee Wee football and Little League to weekend warrior pick-up games and all the way to collegiate and professional-level competition, sports injuries happen every day. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that sports injuries happen to Americans about 9 million times a year.
Because sports injuries occur in such high numbers, orthopedic experts like the physicians on our team here at The Woodlands Sports Medicine Centre recognize that some injuries occur more often than others. We’re here to fill you in on the injuries you should be most concerned about and give you tips on how to avoid them.
Six common sports injuries
Regardless of what sport you choose, it seems injuries are part of the game. Here’s a closer look at some frequent sports injuries with tips to minimize your risks.
1. Ankle sprains
They’re so common that most athletes have experienced at least a mild sprain. The injury occurs when your foot turns suddenly inward or outward, overextending the ligaments in your ankle. These ligaments usually aren’t very strong, making them susceptible to injury.
Sprains vary by degree and location, including severe high ankle sprains. Doing strength-building exercises, such as ankle circles and calf raises can bolster the ligaments and help you avoid an ankle sprain.
You’ve probably heard of someone popping their shoulder out, what we call a dislocation in the orthopedic world. This type of sports injury occurs when the impact from a fall or direct blow forces your bones out of alignment. Dislocations can happen at virtually any joint in your body, from your shoulders and hips to your fingers and ankles.
The best way to avoid dislocations is to strengthen the muscles surrounding your joints. The stronger your muscles are, the better they can withstand added impact. Talk to our orthopedic specialists about exercises you can do to support your joints and prevent dislocations.
3. Knee injuries
There are a few ways you can injure your knee when you’re an athlete. The two most common knee injuries are anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears and runner’s knee.
ACL tears are potentially severe injuries caused by fast stops and changes of direction in sports like tennis and basketball. If your ACL tears completely, you typically need surgery to repair it and regain function. Doing calf raises and lunges helps to strengthen the muscles that support your knees and support your ACL from inordinate stress.
While an ACL tear is a sudden rupture, runner’s knee stems from inflammation as a result of overuse. You typically experience pain at the front or back of your knee as well as stiffness. Fortunately, runner’s knee doesn’t stem from breaks or tears — it’s a warning sign that you need to slow down.
To avoid runner’s knee, take a break from running when you notice pain and talk to our experts about bracing and taping techniques and other physiotherapy exercises you can do to stay the painful effects of inflammation.
4. Tennis elbow
Elbow issues are most often the result of repetitive motions, such as swinging a tennis racket or throwing a baseball. Over time, these motions cause tissue inflammation, small tears in the tendons of your joints, and pain on the outside of your elbow.
The best way to strengthen your elbow against injury is to start with your wrist and hand. Try exercises like finger stretches and wrist flexors. Our experts can teach you the best technique to help you get the most out of these exercises.
5. Shoulder injuries
Similar to runner’s knee and tennis elbow, your shoulder is also at risk of overuse injury. Shoulder impingement syndrome and rotator cuff tendonitis stem from a constant rubbing and irritation of your shoulder joint. The tendons and ligaments eventually become inflamed, causing significant pain and lack of mobility.
There are a few practical things you can do to prevent these kinds of shoulder injuries, including:
- Controlling inflammation
- Practicing proper overhead movement technique
- Improving your posture
It’s also a good idea to make sure you’re training all of your upper body muscles equally to ensure that your shoulder is completely supported.
6. Achilles tendonitis
This is another type of overuse injury that occurs in the back part of your foot known as the Achilles tendon. This thick band of tissue connects your lower leg to your heel. It can become strained and irritated over time as you run and jump.
The best ways to avoid tendonitis are to warm up completely before getting active, to wear proper shoes, and to strengthen and stretch your calf muscles.
No matter how much care you take or how many strengthening exercises you do, accidents happen. When they do, our team is ready to help you recover. For more information or to be evaluated by one of our doctors, make an appointment over the phone or online today.