Participating in sports can have many benefits to both the body and mind. Sports involve the activity of each and every muscle in your body. They can also help prevent weight gain and some cancers by reducing depression and improving cognitive function. Though it seems like all fun and games, there are risks involved when participating in sports. The risk of musculoskeletal injury increases with the amount of intense physical activity. Here are the most common sports injuries and some ways you can prevent from further damage:
Sciatica (lower back pain)
Sciatica, which is lower-back pain that reaches down into the legs, can affect athletes who participate in cycling, running, golf, tennis and baseball. Bulging discs and back spasms are other types of lower-back pain that athletes often endure. Sciatica is most commonly caused by improper stretching, but runners can also experience it if they have one leg that is slightly longer than the other. Sciatica and bulging discs require quick medical attention from a doctor, but back spasms can be treated with rest, ice and anti-inflammatory medication.
Tennis or Golfers Elbow
Around 7% of all sports injuries are elbow injuries. Also called epicondylitis, tennis elbow is caused by repetitive use of the elbow. This repetition creates tiny tears in the elbow’s ligaments. Pain can be experienced on the inside or outside of the elbow, but the outside is the most common. The condition commonly occurs in 30- to 60-year-olds. Rest is the main way to heal this condition. In minor injuries, rest, ice and anti-inflammatory drugs can help improve the elbow. In more persistent cases, a doctor may be needed along with a break from the sport. Forearm strengthening exercises, physical therapy, and elbow braces are the best way to prevent elbow injuries.
A strain is a muscle or tendon injury. There are three muscles behind the knee that make up the hamstring. They are most often “pulled” when an athlete is overusing or overstretching the muscle. The pain is caused by tears in the muscles or tendons. Sometimes bruising can occur in pulled hamstrings. Activities like hurdling or falling forward while waterskiing are all common causes of a hamstring strain.
Forgetting to warm-up and lack of flexibility can lead to pulled muscles, especially in the hamstring. One way to prevent injury to your hamstrings is by learning to stop when you are tired. The mechanisms that protect your muscles stop working when your muscles are fatigued.
Hamstrings take a very, very long time to heal. Often between 6 and 12 months because walking causes a lot of stress to an injured hamstring. Gentle stretches can greatly help hamstring strains, as well as rest, ice, and anti-inflammatory drugs. If you begin exercising again after pulling a hamstring, stop every once in a while, to stretch the muscles. This tip goes for any pulled muscle as well.
Shoulder injuries, including dislocations, sprains and strains, make up 20 percent of all sports injuries. Shoulder injuries are caused by overuse. Sports that require overhead movement, like tennis, swimming, weightlifting, baseball, basketball and volleyball, are the most common culprits. Shoulder injuries should be treated with rest, ice, and anti-inflammatory medication. You can prevent shoulder injuries by doing strength-building exercises in the off-season.
Patellofemoral Syndrome (knee injury)
About 55% of all sports injuries are knee injuries. Knee injuries also make up 25% of problems treated by orthopedic surgeons. Knee injuries or Patellofemoral syndrome, is caused by the kneecap repeatedly moving against the leg bone. This movement damages the kneecap’s tissues and causes pain. Basketball, cycling, swimming, football, volleyball and running are the most common sports where these injuries occur.
It can take up to six weeks for this injury to heal. Low impact exercises are recommended to keep the leg muscles strong. Wearing the right shoes can help reduce the chances of a knee injury. Softer running surfaces like indoor tracks are easier on knees than concrete. Knee injuries should be rested for two days, with ice and anti-inflammatory medicine to help speed the process. Post-injury knees should be properly warmed up before exercise begins and iced for 20 minutes afterward.
The information provided is for general interest only and should not be misconstrued as a diagnosis, prognosis or treatment recommendation. This information does not in any way constitute the practice of medicine, or any other health care profession. Readers are directed to consult their health care provider regarding their specific health situation. Marque Medical is not liable for any action taken by a reader based upon this information.