Prevention and Treatment of the Most Common Sports Injuries

Prevention and Treatment of the Most Common Sports Injuries

Nowadays, more and more people are heeding the advice of their health professionals—get active so you can enjoy all the health benefits it offers.

Unfortunately, for some people—especially those who don’t train properly or overdo their training routines—these benefits can sometimes come with a painful and troublesome price: sports injuries.

Thankfully, many musculoskeletal sports injuries can be effectively treated and many people can often continue enjoying a satisfying level of physical activity post-injury. Even more reassuring, many sports injuries can be easily prevented given proper precautions are observed. In the broadest sense, the term “sports injury” refers to injuries that commonly occur while engaged in exercise or sports.

Some sports injuries can result from lack of proper conditioning, while others can be attributed to accidents, improper equipment, and insufficient stretching and warm-up, among other things.

Below are some of the most common sports injuries and effective ways to treat and prevent them.

Shin Splints

Do you experience pain and a throbbing sensation down the inside of your shin after running or even when you sprint? It can be shin splints.

Shin splints can be caused by swollen and irritated muscles secondary to overuse. Other likely causes include stress fractures, flat feet or overpronation, and poor lumbar spine function.

Shin splints are very common. Oftentimes, runners get them when they drastically change the intensity of their workout or change the surface they run on. The condition is also prevalent among dancers.

Treatment and Prevention

To treat shin splints, stretching, ice, and anti-inflammatory medications are your best allies. Ultrasound therapy is also useful. To help keep shin splints at bay, cross training, wearing proper shoes, stretching, and gradually increasing workout intensity are recommended.

Surgery is rarely required, and a bony stress fracture must be excluded in recalcitrant cases.

Runner’s Knee

A whopping 55 per cent of all sports injuries can be attributed to knee injuries. It is also one of the most common conditions treated by orthopaedic specialists.

While torn cartilage and ligaments are considered the most prevalent, many knee conditions are included in the category of “runner’s knee”, including a variety of pains and aches related to the kneecap.

Contrary to what its name implies, runner’s knee does not only affect runners. Also called patellofemoral pain syndrome, the condition is also considered common among cyclists, swimmers, basketball, volleyball, and football players, and those who practice step aerobics.

Runner’s knee can be attributed to several causes including overuse, a direct hit to the knee (secondary to a blow or fall), malalignment of the bones, feet problems (fallen arches and overpronation), and unbalanced or weak thigh muscles.

Treatment and Prevention

If the knee gets injured, taking anti-inflammatory medications and resting for a few days will do the trick, given the condition is not severe. To reduce the swelling, icing the knee for 20 to 30 minutes every 3 to 4 hours is recommended.

The help and guidance of a physical therapist can also come in handy especially when it comes to doing strengthening exercises for the quadriceps muscles. Stretching of the hamstrings and Iliotibial band (ITB) is highly recommended. If non-invasive treatment interventions will prove ineffective, seeing an orthopaedic specialist is recommended.

Tennis or Golf Elbow

You don’t have to be Roger Federer or Tiger Woods to get it.

In fact, even if you have not played tennis or golf, you can still suffer from the two elbow injuries. In essence, golfer’s elbow and tennis elbow are forms of epicondylitis. Epicondylitis is an inflammation of the tendons that are attached to the elbow. The difference between the two lies in the location of the inflammation. While tennis elbow affects the lateral or outside, golfer’s elbow affects the medial or inside. Both injuries are classified as an overuse injury caused by repetitive motion of the wrist and arm.

Carpenters, painters, and plumbers are susceptible to the condition because of the repetitive nature of their jobs. Even typists and computer professionals get them. Seasonal activities like cutting wood, raking, and gardening can also cause injuries to manifest.

Treatment and Prevention

Treatment interventions for the condition can be as straightforward as using the R.I.C.E. (rest, ice, compression, and elevation) technique and taking anti-inflammatory medications. However, in some cases, a prolonged break and physiotherapy may be required.

Wearing an elbow brace, improving one’s swing technique, and performing forearm stretching and strengthening exercises like wrist curls and reverse wrist curls has also been known to help prevent the condition from developing.

Achilles Tendinitis

The band of tissue that connects the calf muscles to the heel bone is called the Achilles tendon. The injury of the Achilles tendon secondary to overuse is called Achilles tendinitis. The condition often affects runners who drastically increase the level or intensity of their runs and those middle-aged individuals who play jumping sports like basketball or tennis only on the weekends.

Pain associated with the condition typically begins as a mild ache above the heel or the back of the leg especially after running or engaging in sports. More severe pain is often felt after prolonged stair climbing, running, or sprinting.

Treatment and Prevention

If persistent pain is experienced or if there is weak push-off of the foot, seeking immediate medical attention is recommended as you might already have a torn or ruptured Achilles tendon.

Specific strengthening and stretching exercises might also be prescribed to strengthen the tendon alongside its supporting structures. If several months of conservative treatment will not work or if the tendon has ruptured, surgery to repair the tendon will be recommended.

Groin Strain

When too much stress is placed on the muscles found in the groin and thigh, it can result in a groin pull or groin strain. Groin pulls are common among people who are engaged in sports that entail a lot of jumping and running. The injury is very common among soccer, hockey, and football players.

In fact, at least 10 per cent of injuries suffered by professional hockey players can be attributed to groin strains.

Treatment and Prevention

Fortunately, a groin pull will often heal on its own, given sufficient time and rest. However, to speed up the healing process, you can ice the inside of the thigh to reduce swelling and alleviate the pain. You can also compress your thigh using tape or an elastic bandage. Taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can also help with the swelling and the pain.

An ultrasound scan may show a muscle rupture whereupon needle aspiration of the blood clot may be performed.