It's a myth that sports injuries affect only those who play a physically-intensive sport. Although those who play professionally or even regularly are more likely to develop these injuries, they are not the only ones at risk. If you are health conscious and make an effort to keep your fitness levels at the high mark, you may be as much at risk as your favorite NBA star. Being aware of common sports injuries will alert you to a condition that can quickly deteriorate, as well as give you the necessary techniques to avoid injuring yourself, as any sports medicine expert will say.
Strains and Sprains
Sprains and strains are probably the most common of all sports traumas. A sprain refers to an injury to a ligament, i.e., fibrous bands that connect bones to one another. A strain refers to an injury to the tendon, i.e., the tissues that connect muscles to bones. Typically, a sprain will occur when there is sudden excessive pressure on a joint, or when it is twisted into an awkward or unnatural position - this is why sprains are most commonly seen on the ankles and wrists. Sprains can be mild (Grade I), moderate (Grade II), or severe (Grade III). Symptoms of a sprain will include swelling, sometimes bruising, and of course, pain.
A strain occurs when a muscle is twisted or pulled beyond its stretchable limit, and it's also commonly referred to as a pulled muscle. Players of contact sports are the most likely to suffer from these injuries. However, lifting of heavy weights or sudden jerky movements independent of sporting activity can also cause strains. Acute strains may at times even tear a muscle or tendon, and result in a very painful condition. Typical symptoms of a strain are pain, muscle pain, swelling, cramps, and muscle weakness. There is very little you can do to actually prevent a sprain or a strain, since both are unforced errors. Having said that, you can consciously avoid running on uneven surfaces, wear proper shoes, eat a healthy diet to keep bones and muscles strong, avoid exercising in pain, and follow the cardinal rule - always warm up and stretch before any kind of intense activity.
Knee injuries and knee pain are one of the most common wounds out there, and are particularly prevalent in cases where sudden changes in running direction are called for, or sports where there is stress on the knee joints. The most common type of knee pain is runner's knee, which occurs when the knee cap becomes misaligned within the groove into which it fits. When this happens, the knee cap abrades the one side of the groove, causing the cartilage around the groove to wear out. Sometimes, this is accompanied by fluid accumulation around the knee joint, which causes swelling and inflammation.
Treatment involves isometric exercises and knee-strengthening exercises for fortification, as well as massage therapy. If you are prone to knee pain, it's important to cease activity when pain surfaces. It will also help to run on different surfaces, wear shoes that fit well, and not to run with weights, since this stresses the knee. Also, learn to listen to your body and differentiate pain from exertion. Never continue running when you're in pain, since this will aggravate the situation.
The shoulder joint is made up of a shallow socket and fine muscles called the rotator cuff muscles, which aid in movements such as throwing with force. Typically, sports like tennis, softball, and volleyball cause stress to ligaments around the shoulder, which suffer when the arm is held overhead for long durations. Continual stress can cause the rotator cuff muscles to stretch beyond their limit, causing the head of the joint to loosen within the socket. This misalignment can cause injury to the tendons and ligaments surrounding the shoulder joint, thereby causing shoulder pain. Range of motion exercises can help strengthen shoulder muscles. Once again, do not continue exercises when in pain, and consult a doctor if the pain worsens.
Always listen to your body, and get yourself to go to a doctor if your pain continues, or you will develop additional symptoms. By and large, there are some points to keep in mind to avoid the occurrence of injury, which are listed below.
- Eat healthy to strengthen the body.
- Always perform warm up exercises, and cool down before and after you play a sport.
- Drink plenty of water to avoid muscle cramps and dehydration.
- If you are prone to injury in particular joints, pay special attention to these areas, and practice specific exercises that target problem zones.
Disclaimer: This SportsAspire article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.