Common Sports Injuries

Sports are a great way to stay in shape and have fun with the gang, but there are also some dangers lurking about. The typical weekend warrior often pours his heart out on the playing field, regardless of whether or not his body can handle it, and this can lead to sports injuries. A number of injuries are common to many sports, and learning how to avoid and treat them can save you from an involuntary benching.

MUSCLE PULL – This is one of the most common injuries, but luckily it is very minor. When you pull your muscle, you actually tear some of the muscle fibers. A muscle pull often occurs when you haven’t properly warmed up and stretched your muscles before exercise, but it can still happen if you work too hard, fall, or strain the muscle after a proper warm up. It can affect any muscle in your body, but most often occurs in your legs and core.

To prevent this injury, make sure you always warm up and stretch before exercise, and don’t push your body past what its actual physical condition can handle. Yes, you may have to dial down your ego a bit! To treat a muscle pull, ice the area for 20 minutes, on and off, until the muscle is comfortable enough to gently stretch. Once you can stretch the muscle normally, you are good to go.

FROZEN SHOULDER – The shoulder is a complicated part of the body, consisting of numerous muscles, ligaments, and tendons, all serving a complex joint. Thus, many things can go wrong with your shoulders, especially in sports that put heavy demands on the joint, like baseball/softball, tennis, golf, volleyball, weight lifting, and swimming. If the shoulder is overtaxed or strained, especially the small rotator cuff muscles and tendons, your range of motion will be limited by inflammation and pain.

To prevent this injury, always warm up and stretch properly before exercise. In addition, perform weight training and flexibility exercises to strengthen the joint and lower your risks of injury. To treat this injury, ice up the area and allow it to heal without further stress over the next few days or weeks. When you resume activity, start slow, and if the pain returns, immediately stop. In the most severe cases, anti-inflammatory drugs, corticosteroid injections, or surgery may be required.

LOWER BACK STRAIN
This muscle is always at risks for pulls, tears, and spasms because it is often weak in comparison to the other muscles in the body. All it takes is for the athlete to twist too far in one direction, lift something heavy, or perform some unfamiliar and awkward movement to injure the area. The muscle fibers thereby get pulled or torn, causing spasms, pain, and inflammation.

To prevent this nagging injury, make sure you focus on core strengthening exercises in the gym. You need to make sure your lower back muscles “keep up” with the rest of your body. Otherwise, the rest of your body can perform at a level that your lower back can’t – a sure recipe for a lower back strain. One great exercise tool to work on your core is an exercise ball.

To treat the injury, ice or heat up the area, and allow it to rest. Over time, the injury should heal itself. Resume sports with caution, and begin a back strength training program to guard against future injuries.

ELBOW or KNEE INJURIES
These joints are often highly stressed during sports activities – such as tennis, baseball, and golf for the elbow, and running, skating, and basketball for the knees. If the joints are pushed too far too fast, the tendons and muscles may be strained, causing inflammation and pain that can limit your sports prowess.

To prevent these injuries, first focus on your technique. Often, poor technique, perhaps overcompensating for weakness or lack of skill, can cause injuries to the elbows and knees. Practice proper technique and take no shortcuts. In addition, target these areas in the gym with strength building exercises. Build up your resistance now and save yourself the trouble later.

To treat these injuries, you should ice up the area for 20 minutes on and off. After pain and inflammation has disappeared, resume the activity cautiously, always on the lookout for recurring symptoms. Never push through an injury, because you can easily make it worse than a strain. In severe cases, surgery may be required to repair torn tendons or ligaments.