Sports is a great form of exercise for people of all ages and abilities. You don’t need to be a professional athlete to experience the benefits of organized sports. Not only does sports provide physical activity but also teaches teamwork, sportsmanship, and a friendly dose of competition. But like with any physical activity, safety is key.
Did you know that there are approximately 3.5 million sports related injuries each year? But which injuries are most common, how do they occur, and what treatment options are available? Let’s take a look.
Concussions are a common sports injury that many athletes suffer from professional football and soccer players to youth participants. A concussion is defined as any injury to the brain that occurs due to a blow to the head. Concussions often happen when an athlete’s head is shaken or jarred, which is why this type of injury is very common among football players. Athletes playing high-contact sports are at greater risk for experiencing a concussion.
Symptoms associated with a concussion include, but are not limited to:
- Blurred vision
- Slurred speech
If you think you’ve experienced a concussion, you need to seek a professional evaluation from a doctor or other medical professional. There is no cure for a concussion other than plenty of rest and limited activity. This means no physical activity or excessive movement until symptoms subside or you are cleared by a medical professional.
Often, doctors will limit screen time or use of devices such as a phone, tablet or computer. That’s because these activities stimulate the brain and make it work at processing what’s happening on the screen. This can negatively impact the recovery process.
The ACL is the anterior cruciate ligament, located in your knee. This ligament offers stabilization and is commonly injured in sports. ACL tears and strains occur when an athlete changes directions abruptly, pivots, or stops short. This is a common injury in basketball, due to the nature of movement. When players are trying to navigate around defenders, they often spin, twist, and turn using awkward, quick motions. The same holds true for football players diving tackles. When an ACL injury occurs, it means that ligaments in your knee are being torn or ripped.
Symptoms of an ACL tear or injury include:
- Pain when standing/walking
A medical professional will diagnose an ACL injury and it’s severity. Some strains can be healed without surgery. Treatment for ACL strains includes plenty of rest and applying ice regularly. If you experience a completely ACL tear, you will likely need surgery, followed by physical therapy and several months away from sports and other intense activities. Surgery includes an ACL reconstruction where the ligament is replaced by tissue from the patient’s own body or a donation.
Shin splints are common among runners. The main symptom is pain in the shins and lower leg bone known as the tibia. Shin splints are caused by excessive running, which then causes the muscles in the lower leg to swell and put pressure on the bone. This leads to pain and inflammation. If shin splints go untreated, you may actually experience a small crack in the bone. This can also happen when athletes don’t ease into increased activity but instead engage in intense running after a long period of rest. Other causes include:
- Running downhill
- Running uneven terrain
- Running on hard surfaces
- Lack of flexibility in the foot and leg
- Improper form and training techniques
- Fast stops and starts (similar to movements that cause ACL strain)
Not only can you treat shin splints with adequate rest, ice, and slowly increasing your activity, but you can also help to prevent them this way. Other treatment and prevention options include buying running shoes with proper arch support.
Your groin muscles are located from your upper-inner thigh down your leg, to right above your knee. These muscles become pulled or strained after sudden movements like kicking, twisting, or changing direction. These movements are similar to those that cause shin splints and ACL tears. Any sudden movements when jumping, running, or pivoting can also cause a groin pull. Most groin strains and pulls are accompanied by pain and decreased mobility. Athletes will notice difficulty with lateral movements and lack of flexibility. Visible signs may also be present including bruising on the inner thigh or groin area.
Treatment for groin pulls includes rest and alternated ice and heat for several days. Ice works best within the first 72 hours. Following this, heat should be used in combination with gentle stretching. This will help to increase your range of motion and loosen the tightened muscles. Only return to physical activity with a majority of the symptoms subside and do so with caution.
Shoulder injuries encompass many different things from dislocation to muscle and ligament strain and even misalignment or a torn rotator cuff. Did you know that the shoulder is actually the weakest joint in the body and therefore at risk for greater and more frequent injury? Unfortunately, shoulder injuries are caused by a long list of factors from lack of flexibility and strength to high-impact sports and falls.
The first step is to diagnose the type of shoulder injury you have. This is done by examining your symptoms and undergoing evaluations by medical professionals. Repetition of the same motion, as well as intensive routines can also cause shoulder injuries. Arthroscopic surgery is a relatively simple procedure used to treat common shoulder injuries. Your doctor will advise you as to whether or not this surgery is the right option for your injury.
Other treatment options for shoulder injuries are similar to most other sports related injuries and involve adequate rest and ice. This helps to treat any pain or swelling associated with your injury. Don’t return to activity until you’re evaluated and cleared by a medical professional.
Sports Injuries Are Preventable
Accidents happen and sometimes, sports injuries are simply that. But by following some basic safety practices, many sports injuries can be prevented. Always ease into activities. Stretch before and after and try to avoid sudden, quick movements when possible. If you feel discomfort, swelling or pain, seek a medical evaluation to help prevent further injury.
Article Submitted By Community Writer