There’s no doubt that engaging in sports is incredibly beneficial to one’s health. What’s more, as we revel in the athletic prowess shown on our screens during the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, it can inspire you to push harder, run faster, and jump higher in your own sporting activities.
However, sports do come with their fair share of risks. Whether you’re on a casual jog or playing competitively, sports injuries can happen at any time to anyone. Even an accidental trip and fall can lead to potentially detrimental long-term effects. The best thing you can do is be aware of possible injuries and know when to seek help from a sports injury doctor. Let’s take a look at the five most common sporting injuries, along with ways to prevent and treat them accordingly.
Sprains are one of the most common sports injuries in the world. They occur when ligaments are either stretched beyond their average threshold or torn. Ligaments connect bone to bone, and are susceptible to pulling or tearing when turned in the wrong direction. Sprains usually occur at the joints, particularly the ankles, knees, and wrists.
Adequate pre-workout stretching and warm-ups can help deter sprains. Once you’ve sustained a sprain, that particular ligament may be more vulnerable to future sprains. In such cases, it is advisable to support that joint with athletic tapes, wraps or braces while exercising. To learn more about the differences between sprains and fractures, read our blog here.
Strains refer to the overstretching or tearing of muscles or tendons. Considering how many muscles and tendons are used during exercise or play, it’s no surprise that strains are also one of the sports injuries that occur most frequently. Common strains include torn hamstrings or pulled groin muscles. If you take part in sports that involve lots of running, jumping, and changing directions rapidly — such as football or basketball — you are more susceptible to muscle strains and repetitive strain injuries.
3. Knee Injuries
Knees are highly complicated joints that are vulnerable to injury. They tend to absorb a significant amount of impact during many sports, especially high-impact activities like running or playing basketball. Apart from sustained impact, they can also get injured over time via wear and tear.
One severe sporting knee injury to be aware of is called the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tear. It can occur from sudden stops or impact to the side of the knee. A complete tear may result in a frightening ‘pop’ sound and possibly require an ACL reconstruction. Cartilage tears, dislocation and fractures are common knee injuries as well.
Fractures involve a partially or fully broken bone. While they may happen to any bone in the body, the most common fracture sites for sports injuries include the ankle, wrist, and hip. Fractures are most commonly caused by contact sports such as rugby, wrestling, and hockey. However, overuse and repetitive activity can also lead to stress fractures, which are usually found in the weight-bearing bones of the lower leg and foot. Broken bones may take weeks of immobilisation or surgery to heal.
5. Tennis Elbow
Tennis elbow, or lateral epicondylitis, is also known as golf elbow. It is generally caused by repetitive use of the elbow resulting in tiny tears in the elbow’s tendons. Despite its name, it can affect anyone playing any type of sport, as long as repetitive movements are straining your elbow.
Prevention and Treatment
The best way to prevent sports injuries is always to stretch and warm up sufficiently before starting. As much as we would like to push ourselves to excel in sports, our bodies have a limit. Pain is your body’s natural indicator that something is not right, so avoid “playing through the pain” if you can. Ensure you are using proper techniques for the sport and wearing protective gear as necessary — such as helmets, shin guards, elbow pads and knee pads.
As for treatments, minor injuries can usually be treated by yourself at home. Follow the RICE method of Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. If your injury looks or feels severe, or if you are simply unsure, consult a sports injury doctor as soon as possible.
OrthofootMD is an orthopaedic clinic with extensive expertise in treating a wide range of sports injuries in Singapore. We are dedicated to helping patients relieve pain and achieve a smooth recovery. Book an appointment or contact us to learn more.