For athletes of all ages, sports injuries are a major concern. Even if you don’t have professional aspirations, the truth is that a bad sports injury could prevent you from doing what you love while simultaneously leaving you with lasting discomfort and limitations. To keep you moving, we’ve compiled the most common sports injuries and the steps you can take to prevent or treat them.
Most athletic activities require participants to be quick on their feet. As you dash across a field or dive for a ball, your knees take a lot of strain. Your knee effectively connects the two longest bones in your body, meaning it is already under intense pressure. Repetitive actions and trauma add to the everyday strain and easily damage the ligaments that support the knee joint.
To avoid complications, make sure you:
- Warm up before a bout of intense activity.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Wear knee pads if there is any likelihood that your knees will come into abrupt contact with the ground.
However, if you’re already experiencing pain, weakness, swelling, stiffness, or audible crunching when you are using your knee, then it is time to speak with a specialist. Two parts of the joint often injured are the meniscus and ACL. So you will need to meet with Dr. Benjamin Stein to evaluate the source of your discomfort and discuss treatment options.
Shoulder dislocations and strains are very common among athletes who use a bat or racket. The shoulder is one of the most vulnerable joints in the body. It can be relatively easy to injure if it isn’t properly stabilized. You can achieve better stabilization through increased musculature through the chest, back, and upper arm. It can also be protected through regular stretching, which maintains flexibility.
Fortunately, many of these injuries can be treated by a quick visit to your local Sports Medicine specialist. The one exception is a rotator cuff injury, which may need a more complete treatment plan comprising of medical steroid injections, physical therapy, or surgery.
This category of injury, sometimes referred to as tennis elbow or golf elbow, is most common among athletic activities that require a strong grip. Elbow injuries of this type are rarely the result of trauma. Instead, they develop over time as repetitive use causes enough damage to the tendon to cause noticeable inflammation and pain.
These repetitive motion injuries can usually be linked to less-than-ideal technique, so you will need to take a short break from the activity and have a professional trainer review your technique to prevent future aggravations. If the condition doesn’t die down on its own, then your Sports Medicine specialist will need to evaluate your condition and suggest a treatment plan. As with shoulder injuries, they may start with prolotherapy and physical therapy, then graduate to surgery if the former treatment is unsuccessful.
Protecting Yourself from Injury
Hamstring strains, sciatica, and groin pulls also join the list of common sports injuries experienced. Fortunately, following best practices helps you avoid all of these injuries. Ensure you are:
- Stretching before and after intense physical activity
- Warming up
- Maintaining a healthy weight and muscular distribution to give your joints and ligaments the support they need
If you are concerned about your current habits or want to improve your technique to prevent injury, you should work with a professional trainer and Sports Medicine doctor to address your concerns and protect your health.