Participating in sports and exercise is good for our health, our wellbeing, our state of mind, it is fun, and of course it helps keeps us slim and trim.
However it is also the reason millions of people, from children to adults are injured every year…
Why injuries happen
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These injuries result in high medical costs, down time during recovery, sometimes complete cessation from sports and training, as well as the emotional and psychological burden on the individual.
The causes of injury include poor training and inadequate preparation, improper gear or misuse of gear, being out of shape, not warming up before training, not stretching enough and accidents.
Sports injuries can be Acute or Chronic
Acute injuries happen suddenly such as a sprain or fracture, and the symptoms are immediate ranging from pain, weakness and swelling to complete immobility.
Chronic injuries happen over an extended period of time with symptoms such as fatigue, stress, inability to sleep, constant pain, sensations of burning, numbing, or tingling that persist for more than two to three months.
The most common sport injuries are:
1. Abrasions and blisters
These two injuries occur frequently but are not serious, usually the result of a fall on a hard surface or from equipment like shoes or gloves aggravating the surface of the skin.
2. Lower back pain
There are numerous reasons for low back pain, which may be alleviated by stretching and alternative health care options such as acupuncture and massage. A well trained athlete does not usually suffer from this problem.
3. Shin splints (Medial tibial stress syndrome)
Almost any sport can lead to shin splints; the catch all term for pain found in the medial/inside of the shin of the lower leg but may be in the foot and ankle as well.
Symptoms include pain that worsens when exercising, stops when at rest, and the area is tender to touch.
People with flat feet, who wear improper fitting or old shoes, work out on extremely hard surfaces, run on hills, run on the same side of the road or track and in the same direction, train too hard and too soon, and who do not stretch properly are at risk for shin splints.
4. Strains and sprains
These can occur anywhere in the body and during any sport or activity.
Factors that contribute to their occurrence include lack of flexibility, age, fatigue, not warming up and muscle weakness. A strain or pulled muscle refers to over stretching or tearing of muscle tissue.
A sprain is a stretching or tearing of ligaments, the tissue that connects bones. They are both painful and require immediate medical intervention.
5. Runner’s knee (Patellofemoral pain syndrome)
A term used to describe pain or aching in the knee, which is most prevalent in runners (hence the name) although many athletes injure their knees.
The symptoms manifest as pain around or under the kneecap, but other symptoms such as swelling around the knee and difficulty bending the knee.
The injury may involve torn ligaments or cartilage and results from biomechanical issues, poor flexibility, repetitive movements, weak or tight thigh and calf muscles, and people with flat feet or high arches.
A broken bone is a risk in many sports, but most often in contact sports.
A bone can break from repeated stress over time – a stress fracture, or as a one-time injury.
Fractures occur generally in the ankles, feet, wrists, hands and collar bones. These are serious injuries and could affect the soft tissues -tendons, ligaments, and muscles surrounding the fracture and require immediate medical attention.
Concussions are injuries to the brain from a blow to the head that are common in contact sports such as boxing, rugby, cricket, soccer, and football but can also be found in the likes of gymnastics and skiing.
“According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 200,000 people in the United States suffer concussions while playing sports every year. Concussions occur in a wide range of sports and affect all athletes, from professional players to little leaguers” (AAOS. 2010).
Symptoms may be mild such as nausea or a headache or serious such as visual impairment, dizziness, loss of consciousness and amnesia.
Normally recovery is within weeks, but with repeated injury there is potential for the damage to be permanent.
Connect with Expert Leslie Olsen.
American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS). (2010). Sports Concussion.