Sports injuries include a wide range of injuries that occur while participating in any type of sporting activity. Injuries that occur while exercising also come under sports injuries.
Sports injuries occur due to various reasons. Failing to warm up, lack of conditioning or over-training may result in sprains, strains and pulled muscles. Bruises, broken bones or traumatic brain injury may result from collisions on the sports field and using the wrong from or technique could cause injury to the muscles, ligaments and other soft tissue.
These are some of the more common sports injuries.
Muscle pulls are perhaps the most common injuries that occur in sports-persons. They occur when a muscle is stretched beyond its capacity and are usually accompanied by pain, swelling and soreness in the affected area.
The muscles that are the most prone to these injuries are those in the lower-back, quadriceps, groin and shoulder. Most of these injuries can be treated using the RICE technique, where RICE stands for Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation. Anti-inflammatory drugs can help ease the pain and inflammation and may be enough for minor injuries but more serious injuries will require medical attention.
Proper stretching and warming up before indulging in strenuous activity is the best way to prevent muscle pulls and tears.
Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome Or Knee Injury
Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome is caused by the roughening, softening or wearing out of the cartilage that lies just beneath the kneecap. In athletes and sports-persons in general, the constant friction and stress during workouts and play damages the tissue of the kneecap, resulting in severe pain. Running, jogging, basketball, football and other high impact sports are the major cause of such injuries.
Ignoring the symptoms and continuing to play despite the pain can lead to severe aggravation and long-term issues. This is because our knees are subject to more stress on a regular basis than any other joint in the body.
Treating knee injuries require time and patience. It can take up to 6 weeks for such injuries to heal and during this period, low impact exercises are suggested. Alternate application of hot and cold packs has also been known to help ease the pain.
Shoulder injuries are classic overuse injuries. These injuries are commonly seen in sports-persons who engage in sports such as tennis, basketball, volleyball, cricket, swimming, and weightlifting, all of which involve extensive use of the shoulder, particularly over-the-head movements.
Most shoulder injuries can be treated with RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation).
Preventive steps include strengthening exercises, stretching exercises and proper warming up before diving headlong into the game or activity.
Ankle sprains are also a very common type of injury that occur while playing high impact sports, especially where running is involved. It usually happens when the ankle bends or twists in an unnatural direction. The ankle is held to the shin bone by a network of cable-like tissues called ligaments. Any unnatural twist can cause these ligaments to stretch or tear which causes swelling, soreness and pain.
While painful, these injuries are only serious if the ligament tears, which is rare. Typically, a couple of days’ rest with application of an ice pack on the site of injury, coupled with pain relievers should be sufficient to relieve minor sprains.
Major sprains, however, would need medical attention. If the pain doesn’t subside in a few days, medical attention is always going to be highly advisable.
Tennis elbow is commonly seen in sports-persons who engage in sports such as tennis, badminton, cricket and hockey.
The term ‘Tennis elbow’ is normally meant to encompass overuse and misuse injuries of the outer (lateral) elbow. It is characterised by pain or tenderness on the outer muscle of the forearm, at the place where it is joined to the elbow.
This injury is notoriously difficult to treat and no specific treatment is successful on its own. This is mainly because it is very poorly understood and the exact cause is unclear.
Treatments often involve using elbow bands and splints, shock therapy, ultrasound, deep massage and laser therapy. The recovery however can extend from a few weeks to several years depending upon the cause and severity of the pain, how long it is left untreated and management strategies that are implemented. It is best to provide rest to the elbow and get medical attention immediately.
Concussions are among the most dreaded injuries in sports. Concussion injuries are commonly seen in athletes engaged in fast-paced, high-impact sports such as football, rugby, wrestling and hockey amongst others.
A concussion is basically caused by a blow to the head, which leads to a temporary loss of cognition. Symptoms include, but are not limited to, headache, lack of coordination, confusion, temporary loss of memory, vomiting, dizziness and excessive fatigue.
Repeated concussions can cause permanent brain damage and sports managers and organisers must take proper precautions and insist that all players wear the recommended protective equipment for their sport. This is especially important while indulging in activities which might result in collisions to the head. In rare cases, if another concussion is caused before the first one has healed completely, it can result in second-impact syndrome, which is usually fatal.
A complete medical check up is crucial after a concussion to determine the full extent of the injury and develop an appropriate treatment plan. Complete rest and regular medical supervision and checkups are absolutely necessary for a full recovery.
The sports field is prone to injuries, and not all of them can be prevented, but their effect can always be mitigated by keeping fit, warming up properly and making sure that the body gets proper rest, nutrition and hydration to the body before and after every session.
In the event of an injury, it is always best to stop all physical activity immediately and let your coach or physiotherapist know of the nature of the injury.
Despite an athlete’s natural instinct to go on with the game at any cost, it is important to consider whether a single game or training session is worth shortening your career or even ending it prematurely.
Sports managers and sports organisations are responsible for overseeing the training and physical fitness of their players and putting measures in place to minimise sports related injuries.