We know that sports and recreational activities bring benefits. But with the benefits come risks, including sports-related injuries ranging from minor strains and sprains to more serious injuries such as bone fractures and concussions.
Across all levels of participation, from the pros and elite athletes to informal weekend enthusiasts, the focus is on performance and endurance. No matter what the level of play, staying healthy and injury free is a key to long-term success and fun.
The Most Frequent Sports Injuries
Preventing sports injuries begins by understanding some of the most common injuries and how they can be prevented. The most frequent injuries sustained by athletes at all levels, include:
Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI)
RSIs can be traced back to performing ongoing, repetitive tasks that involve vibrations, forceful exertions, mechanical compression, or sustained/awkward positions. Tennis and golfer’s elbow, carpal tunnel syndrome and edema are all considered RSIs. Symptoms of RSI include tenderness, stiffness and/or tingling in the affected area, usually in the arms and the hands.
Lower Back Pain
Constant back stretching, bending motions and frequent trunk rotations can be hard on back muscles. Lower back pain usually results from overuse or strain. Many tennis players, golfers and cyclists, for example, tend to develop lower back pain due to the frequent flexed forward posture demanded by their sport. Lower back pain can also come when core strength isn’t enough to sustain lower back activities.
Shoulder injuries can result from repetitive throwing motions (think baseball or bowling), but can also occur from swinging sports such tennis and golf, as well as weight-bearing sports such as lifting and archery. Rotator cuff injuries are very common and often preventable with solid stretching and strength-building exercises.
While wear and tear over the course of years is hard to prevent, many injuries to the knee are caused by poor technique and lack of conditioning. The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is one of the major ligaments that help stabilize the knee and is often strained or torn. Knee injuries can be caused by sudden changes of movement and speed and by quick rotations.
The inner thigh muscles help pull your legs together, but are vulnerable to injury from fast side-to-side movements. Pain is usually felt where the upper inner thigh joins the pubic bone.
Sometimes your injuries cannot be prevented, but in many cases, there are precautions you can take to lessen the likelihood or severity of most of these and other sports injuries. Following are a few key tips to make sure you don’t end up injured and watching all the action from the bench.
- Warm up. All workout and sports activities should begin with a proper warm up. Warm ups help with flexibility, increase blood flow to your muscles, and prepare your heart for the cardio work to come.
- Overuse sports injuries. Gradually build up your mind and body before you begin practicing a new sport, or after a period of inactivity. Take the time to gradually ramp up your performance and endurance while developing techniques that may help you avoid getting hurt. Consider working with a technique coach – one tiny modification could change the way you feel, and play!
- Stay hydrated. It’s not only you that gets thirsty; your muscles, bones and tendons need to “drink” too. Properly hydrating and maintaining level of electrolytes can help prevent cramps and heat-related injuries.
- Proper equipment – always! Maintain your equipment. For example, check helmets, gloves, bats, racquets and clubs for damage or excessive wear and tear, and repair or replace them when needed. Equipment includes shoes too! Be sure you are wearing the right shoes for the sport, and that they not only fit properly, but provide you with proper support and cushioning.
- Remember to cool down. After completing your sports activity or workout dedicate at least 10 minutes to return your heart rate to normal and stretch your muscles. It’s also a great way to prevent soreness.
- Try “changing it up” when performing an activity. Altering your grip, stance, or position on the field can help avoid overuse and injuries. Taking regular breaks to stretch can help too.
STAR Spine & Sport specializes in a variety of non-invasive treatments for both chronic and acute back pain and sciatic nerve pain, and we can help you toward becoming pain-free. From soothing back braces and medication to massage and physical therapy, there is a treatment that can work for your back pain.
For more information, and to schedule a consultation, call (303) 238-4277 or fill out our simple online appointment request form. We look forward to serving you.