Whether you’re a weekend warrior or a play sports every chance you get, the pounding, running, and pivoting movements put you at risk for overuse or traumatic injuries. While getting physical activity is great, getting injured is not.
There are two types of sports injuries: overuse and traumatic. You can lower your risk for both types of injuries by training, stretching, and wearing the proper equipment. Here are five common sports injuries and advice on how to prevent them.
Ankle sprains can happen in any sport or when you’re just walking to your car. Every day 25,000 people in the United States sprain an ankle. Ankle sprains usually involve a fall or twisting motion that stretches or tears a ligament near your ankle.
Symptoms, which include pain and swelling, can be mild to severe. Sometimes there’s a bruise as well, and you probably won’t be able to walk on the injured ankle without pain.
While it may seem hard to reduce your risk for falling, there are precautions you can take to prevent ankle sprains. They include:
Your rotator cuff is a group of muscles and tendons in your shoulder that help it move and help it stay stable. Rotator cuff injuries, which can include inflammation, soreness, or a tear, are caused by repeated overhead motions, an injury to the shoulder, or natural wear-and-tear on your tendons and ligaments as you age. Baseball players, especially pitchers, and tennis players often have shoulder problems.
Rotator cuff injury symptoms include pain, weakness, and stiffness in the shoulder. Often, it’s difficult to sleep on the side of your injured shoulder. Rotator cuff injury prevention strategies include:
Shinsplints, also called medial tibial stress syndrome, is an inflammation of the muscles and tendons that surround your shin, or tibia. Shinsplints is an overuse injury caused by repetitive movement or a sudden change in your exercise routine.
People who run, dance, or do sports that involve running get shinsplints. Symptoms of shinsplints include tenderness or soreness along your shins and sometimes mild swelling. You usually feel symptoms during and after exercise.
Ways to prevent shinsplints include:
Your anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is a major stabilizing ligament in your knee. Tearing or injuring your ACL is one of the most common sports knee injuries. It’s caused by a sudden twist or pivoting movement, which often occurs in soccer, skiing, football, and basketball.
You may hear a popping sound after you tear your ACL. Other symptoms include:
Your best bet to prevent an ACL tear is to stretch and warm up before playing sports and stretch and cool down afterward. Strengthening exercises for your legs, core, and hips will also help.
Tennis elbow, also called lateral epicondylitis, is, not surprisingly, an overuse elbow injury. And although it’s commonly called tennis elbow, it also affects golfers, fencers, and volleyball players. With tennis elbow, you feel pain on the outside of your elbow because of an inflamed tendon or tendon with a slight tear.
Symptoms include pain in your elbow, especially when moving or lifting things, as well as radiating pain down your forearm. Prevention tips include stretching and strengthening your arm and wrist muscles to support your elbow. You should always warm up and stretch your arms, wrists, shoulders, and elbows before playing any sports that use those muscle groups.
For more information on how to prevent and treat sports injuries, call orthopedic surgeon Dr. Steven E. Nolan in Sugar Land, Texas, or make an appointment online.