Sporting injuries are an unfortunate but common occurrence among athletes of all levels, from weekend warriors to professional athletes. Injuries vary in severity from minor niggles that are more of an annoyance to season-ending issues that can prematurely call time on an athlete’s career. We are about to explore the five most common sporting injuries, look at what causes them, how to prevent them, and a typical recovery duration, so strap yourself in, and let’s begin.
A sprained ankle is one of the most prevalent sports injuries. A sprained ankle is not only painful but also debilitating, preventing an athlete from running and sometimes walking. Any of the top sports listed by the best sports betting sites in California where running, jumping, or frequently changing direction happen are susceptible to sprained ankles.
Soccer and tennis players are particularly prone to ankle sprains, as are basketball and American Football players. The injury usually happens when an athlete lands awkwardly on their foot, rolling the ankle outwards (inversion) or inward (eversion). The hyper-extended ankle causes ligaments to stretch or tear, causing significant pain and vastly reduced mobility.
Sprained ankle recovery time varies depending on the severity of the ligament damage. Mild sprains often heal within a few weeks, whereas severe strains require months to recover fully. A rehabilitation program to regain strength and stability in the affected ankle is essential to reduce re-injury risk.
It is challenging to prevent sprained ankles due to the relative weakness of the joint. However, athletes and players with better balance are less prone to ankle injuries, as are those who use ankle braces or tape for added support.
Muscle Strains and Tears
Like sprained ankles, muscle strains and tears are common in sports involving sprinting, jumping, or sudden bursts of activity. Track and field athletes, weightlifters, soccer, rugby, and football players often suffer these injuries.
Muscle strains and tears occur when muscle fibers stretch or tear due to overexertion or sudden explosive movement. Take the snap in an NFL game as the prime example. Offensive and defensive linemen go from a crouched position to explosive running starts to then using all their strength to push and shove their opponents. The initial burst of exertion is when muscle injuries are most likely to happen.
Players can expect to be on the sidelines for anywhere between a few weeks and several months, depending on the severity of the strain or tear.
These injuries can be prevented by incorporating proper warm-up routines, maintaining a high degree of flexibility, and incorporating strength training into regimes, all promoting and supporting muscle health.
Knee Injuries, Including ACL Tears
Sports involving pivoting, sudden stops, and cutting can make an athlete suspectable to knee injuries. Such injuries are common among basketball and soccer players, plus skiers. A torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury is one of the most severe knee injuries and can be career-threatening.
ACL tears occur when an athlete changes direction, lands awkwardly from a jump, or rapidly decelerates. They can also happen following a strong impact, making them likely in all contact sports.
Although there are grades for ACL tears, none result in a short spell on the sidelines. At the bare minimum, even the least severe ACL injury will take six months to recover from, but usually, 12 months rest is required before resuming sporting activities. Surgical intervention is often required, followed by extensive physical therapy to regain strength and stability in the knee.
Taking steps to reduce the risk of ACL tears is something every athlete should do. Practicing proper landing and cutting techniques is one step if you compete in sports requiring those things. Improving agility and strength also works, as do knee braces for additional support.
Concussions are a significant concern in all forms of contact sports and are an injury that can have long-lasting detrimental effects. Concussions are essentially a type of traumatic brain injury resulting from a blow or jolt to the head. They occur when the brain is shaken within the skull, which can occur during collisions, falls, or tackles.
Most sports now have concussion protocols that prevent athletes from competing until they pass several tests to see if a concussion affects their cognitive ability and other areas. A mild concussion may only take a few days to recover from, but severe traumas can take weeks or months to shake off thoroughly. It is crucial to fully recover from a concussion because the risk of a life-threatening “second impact syndrome” is possible.
Much medical evidence points to a link between suffering concussions during an athlete’s playing days and developing dementia in later life. Concussions should be avoided at all costs.
Wearing appropriate protective equipment like helmets is the number one way of reducing the risk of a concussion. Always follow the game’s rules, which are in place for fairness and to protect everyone playing that game. In addition, always promptly report any head injury regardless of how insignificant it seems at the time.
Lateral Epicondylitis (Tennis Elbow)
Lateral Epicondylitis, often called Tennis Elbow, is common in sports that require frequent arm motions, like tennis, golf, or baseball pitchers. Repetitive gripping, wrist extension, and overuse of the forearm muscles while swinging a tennis racket or golf club can lead to tennis elbow.
Tennis elbow sufferers experience pain and inflammation on the outer part of the elbow, which usually requires rest, ice, physical therapy, anti-inflammatory medicines, and pain relief medication. Recovery time varies from several weeks to several months.
There are measures athletes can employ to prevent tennis elbow from occurring. For example, strengthening the forearm muscles reduces the risk, as does using equipment that reduces strain on the elbow, such as a vibration-dampened tennis racket.
Sports injuries are an unfortunate but expected part of athletic life. Just as cars suffer mechanical problems, the human body can also break down. Prevention is always better than the cure, so practice proper techniques, build strength and flexibility, and wear appropriate protective equipment.
Always consult a healthcare professional if you endure an injury because treatment and recovery times can vary significantly based on individual circumstances.