When playing any type of sport, there’s always a risk of picking up an injury. There are various reasons why they occur and sports injuries can range in severity. Over-training, a lack of conditioning and failure to properly warm up are all possible reasons why sports players can become injured. At the same time, sporting incidents such as collisions or bad tackles can sometimes lead to more serious injuries.
In this article, we’ve set out some of the causes of the most common sporting injuries.
Sprains and Strains
Sprains and strains are common sports injuries that can impact athletes of all levels. A sprain occurs when ligaments supporting joints are stretched beyond their limits, while a strain is the result of overstretching or tearing of muscles or tendons.
These injuries often arise from sudden movements, improper technique or inadequate warm-up. Symptoms include pain, swelling and reduced range of motion. Sprains and strains can sometimes be run off but more commonly will result in some time away from training and participation. Timely treatment, including Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation (RICE) is crucial for recovery.
Preventive measures, like regular conditioning, proper warm-ups, and technique training, play a vital role in reducing the risk of sprains and strains.
Fractures are a prevalent injury in sports that can be caused by high-impact collisions, falls or excessive stress on bones. In contact sports like football or rugby, forceful tackles and collisions can lead to broken bones. Non-contact sports such as running or gymnastics can also cause fractures due to repetitive stress or awkward landings.
Overuse injuries, common in endurance sports like long-distance running, may weaken bones over time and lead to an increased risk of fractures.
Some of the most vulnerable areas where sporting fractures can occur include the wrists, ankles and collarbone. These types of fractures can cause severe pain and might lead to a prolonged period of rehabilitation.
Concussions are a significant concern in sports due to their potential long-term consequences on a player’s health. A concussion is a traumatic brain injury caused by a blow or jolt to the head, that can cause a temporary dysfunction of brain cells.
Sports such as rugby, heading footballs and boxing pose a higher risk of concussions due to their contact nature. UK sporting organisations have been taking steps to raise awareness about concussions, implementing protocols for identifying and managing head injuries during games.
In many cases, players with suspected concussions are now removed from play and undergo a thorough medical evaluation. Proper diagnosis, rest and gradual return-to-play protocols are in place to reduce the risk of complications from repeated concussions.
Tennis elbow, also known as lateral epicondylitis, is a prevalent and debilitating condition in sports. Despite its name, it can affect players of various sports, not just tennis.
This overuse injury involves inflammation and microtears in the tendons of the forearm, specifically around the outer part of the elbow. Repetitive gripping, swinging or lifting motions common in sports like tennis, golf and weightlifting can strain these tendons.
Players with tennis elbow experience pain and weakness in the affected arm which can impair performance and prevent training. Rest, physical therapy and anti-inflammatory treatments are often prescribed to aid recovery. Preventive measures such as proper technique, adequate rest and forearm strengthening exercises are a good way to reduce the risk of tennis elbow.
A dislocation happens when the bones forming a joint are forced out of their normal positions. A dislocation is a fairly common injury in a number of sports that can be caused by high-impact collisions, awkward landings or overstretching. Football, rugby and other ice hockey are the types of sports where dislocations are common.
The most common dislocation injuries in sports involve dislocated shoulders, dislocated fingers, dislocated knees and dislocated elbows. Dislocations often result in immediate pain, swelling and reduced function of the joint or associated limb. Prompt medical attention is crucial to reset the joint properly and address any associated ligament or nerve damage.
Recovery from a dislocation is likely to involve immobilisation, rehabilitation exercises and a gradual return to activity. Players or athletes should prioritise injury prevention through proper training and conditioning. It’s also advisable to follow any safety guidelines to reduce the risk of dislocation injuries.
Hamstring injuries are a fairly common example of sporting injuries in the UK. The hamstrings are the group of muscles located at the back of the thigh, responsible for knee flexion and hip extension.
Sports that involve sprinting, jumping, and sudden accelerations such as football, athletics, rugby or gymnastics put participants at higher risk of sustaining hamstring strains. Overstretching or excessive force on these muscles can lead to tears or strains that cause a lot of pain, swelling and limited mobility.
ACL (Anterior Cruciate Ligament) Tears
ACL (Anterior Cruciate Ligament) tears are among the most devastating injuries in sports. In professional sports, ACL tears have been known to end careers. The ACL is a crucial ligament that stabilises the knee joint. Anterior cruciate ligament injuries often occur during activities involving sudden stops, changes in direction or direct blows to the knee and sports like football, rugby, skiing and athletics have a higher risk of ACL tears.
When the ACL is torn, players will experience immediate excruciating pain, swelling and instability in the knee which will immediately prevent further participation.
Surgery is usually required to repair a torn ACL and intensive rehabilitation is needed to regain strength and stability. It can take many months or even a year for athletes to recover from a torn ACL depending on the severity of the injury. To minimise the risk of ACL tears, sports players should focus on strengthening the surrounding muscles during training and adopting proper landing techniques to protect the knee joint during sports activities.
Another common knee injury in sports is known as a meniscus tear. The menisci are C-shaped cartilage pads that cushion and stabilise the knee joint. Sports involving sudden twisting, pivoting and direct impact such as football, hockey and skiing put participants at a higher risk.
Torn meniscus injuries cause pain, and swelling and reduce the amount of movement in the knee. This will have an obvious impact on performance and mobility. Treatment options depend on the location and severity of the tear, ranging from rest and physical therapy to arthroscopic surgery for more severe cases.
Recovery times for a torn meniscus vary but often require significant rehabilitation to fully regain knee function.
Tendonitis is another fairly common sporting injury. It occurs when the tendons, which connect muscles to bones become inflamed or irritated due to overuse or repetitive motions in sports activities.
Sports that involve repetitive actions like running, swimming and tennis can lead to an increased risk of tendonitis. Those affected by tendonitis may experience localised pain, swelling and stiffness which could prevent training or sports participation for some time.
Rest, Ice, and anti-inflammatory medicines are often part of any treatment plan, along with physical therapy to strengthen and stretch the affected tendons.
What To Do If You Sustain A Sports Injury
It is important to take any advice offered by your doctor if you sustain a sports injury during training or while participating in sports. Returning to your usual training or playing schedule too early can worsen your injury and could lead to more serious (and long-term) problems.
Whether you’re a professional footballer, play sports for your university or are part of a pub team, a sporting injury can have a massive impact on your life so you should consider preventative measures wherever possible.
Can You Claim Compensation For A Sporting Injury?
If you play any type of sport for a team or you pay to play at a venue such as a tennis court, you will be owed a legal duty of care. This means that if your coach, club or venue are negligent and that leads to you being injured, you might be eligible to claim compensation.
For example, sports injury claims might be possible if your coach gave poor training advice that led to your injury. Similarly, you might have grounds to claim if you tripped and tore your ACL because of a damaged artificial football pitch.
If you’d like more information about making such a claim, please call one of our specialists on 0800 6524 881.