Sports injuries: How to Prevent Them
By Lubna Sheikh on 17th March 2020
Many people like to play some kind of sport even if they’re not a professional athlete. Because of this, sports injuries are pretty common.
While they’re usually not all that serious or life-threatening, it’s still important to follow the proper steps to allow them to heal. Not doing so will often cause the injury to become worse and will mean that you will be unable to play the sport for a while.
In this article, we’ll cover some of the most common forms of sports injuries and how you can treat them.
The Most Common Types of Sports Injuries
If you aren’t a professional athlete, a week devoid of a lot of physical activity can begin to take a toll on your body when you go out to enjoy your favourite outdoor activity – whether it be hiking through a scenic trail or playing a game of golf.
The most common form of sports injury is a strain or sprain. You’ve probably sprained your ankle before, but you can also sprain other parts of your body such as your hamstring, groin, or your knee.
What’s the difference between a sprain and a strain?
1. A sprain is when you damage a ligament– a connection between a bone and a joint.
2. A strain is a fancy word for a pulled muscle. These most commonly occur from hyperextending or misusing a muscle and happen when a muscle fibre or tendon is damaged.
How can I treat my injuries?
Below, we have listed some of the most common injuries and we have included some recommended treatments for each one:
1. Flexor Strain
If you find that you’ve strained your hip flexor muscles, the best thing to do is to rest and ice the area in 20-minute intervals for two-three days. After this healing period, you can begin to apply heat and do light hip flexor stretches.
2. ACL Strain or Tear
If you have a fairly minor ACL strain or tear, it can usually heal if you rest and apply ice to the painful area. A complete tear will most likely require surgery and intensive physical therapy before the athlete can fully heal.
If your doctor has diagnosed you with a concussion, he or she will tell you to rest for a while, refrain from doing anything mentally or physically stressful, and after a while will slowly allow you to ease back into the sport you play. It is important to never resume playing a sport until your doctor has said it is okay to do so.
4. Groin Pull
Much like a hip flexor strain, treatment of a groin pull includes icing the area in 20-minute intervals for the first three days, then slowly working in groin stretches and light exercise until the area is fully healed.
5. Shin Splints
Shin splints are treated by ceasing running activities for a short period of time, icing the area, and slowly increasing running activity until the area is completely healed. To help the shin heal and possibly prevent future injury, consider picking up a pair of shoes with a lot of arch support.
In some cases, getting extra rest, stretching your hamstrings and back, and lying on your stomach instead of your back or side can make some of the pain go away. If you’re still experiencing tingling, pain, or numbness after two weeks, you should seek out a doctor or physical therapist to help alleviate the symptoms.
7. Hamstring Strain
In the early stages of a hamstring strain, the athlete should rest and ice the area in pain. To prevent any future injuries, the athlete should begin to slowly work in hamstring stretches and strength methods. If the pain isn’t gone after two weeks, the athlete should seek professional help.
8. Tennis or Golf Elbow
If the injury isn’t serious, often icing the inflamed area and refraining from strenuous exercise is enough for the area to completely heal. If the inflammation is serious enough, a doctor may prescribe anti-inflammatory medication or a brace to bring the swelling down.
9. Shoulder Injury
To help bring down pain and swelling due to a shoulder injury, the area should first be iced and the athlete should refrain from putting stress on the injured area. A physical therapist should assess the injury if the athlete still feels pain after two weeks.
10. Patellofemoral Syndrome
If someone has damaged their knee, they should first ice the area and get a lot of rest. Gently stretching the thigh muscles can also help with healing as long as the stretches aren’t too intensive. If the knee hasn’t healed after two weeks, a physical therapist should be brought in to create a more aggressive stretching regiment.
How to Prevent a Sports Injury
To adequately prevent sports injuries, the athlete should first make sure they’re wearing adequate protective equipment such as a helmet, shoulder or knee pads, mouth guards depending on the type of sport he or she is playing.
When not actively playing a sport, an athlete should keep up a proper workout regime to keep proper cardiovascular and muscle health as well as proper levels of strength and flexibility.
An athlete should also stay hydrated and do an adequate cooldown exercise before ending their workout.
Finally, an athlete should be well-rested before working out or playing their sport.
What is the P.R.I.C.E Theory?
The P.R.I.C.E. theory is a way to treat acute – or minor – injuries that an athlete may sustain on a daily basis. The steps are as follows:
Protect from further injury
Ice the injury
Elevate the injury
This theory is only for minor injuries such as sprains, strains, bruises, and slight dislocations. If you begin to high levels of swelling or pain, seek out medical help immediately.
Tips for Using Heat and Ice Therapy
For the first 24 hours after an injury, you should apply ice to the damaged area. You should only ice an area after you’ve completed a physical activity and you shouldn’t keep the ice on for too long as it may cause frostbite.
After the first 24 hours of an injury, you can begin to apply heat to the area. You can apply heat before or after an activity, but don’t keep it on for too long as it may cause burns.
You should only apply ice or heat for 15-20 minutes and take a 20-minute break in between sessions.
If you have an open cut or wound, never apply heat or ice to the area.
What Increases the Chances of a Sports Injury?
The most common reasons someone injures themself while working out or playing a sport is due to improperly working out, not having adequate equipment to play safely, overexerting themself, or by not cooling down after a workout.
How is a Sports Injury Diagnosed?
Doctors will commonly diagnose a sports injury by physically looking at the injured area, asking questions about how the injury occurred, or using x-rays or MRIs to see what’s going on inside someone’s body.
After diagnosing an injury, your doctor will give you a treatment plan that you should follow closely. Keep an eye on how you’re feeling. If you feel your injury isn’t getting better, or it’s even getting worse, tell your doctor as you might be suffering from a much more serious injury.
How to Recover From Sports Injuries
If your injury isn’t serious enough for you to go to the doctor, ice the area and get plenty of rest. After 2-3 days, begin to slowly stretch the area to keep it flexible.
While most sports injuries don’t require a doctor’s visit, you should still follow proper protocols to allow it to heal. If you don’t that minor injury could become very serious in the future.
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About the author of this article
My name is Lubna and I am a Holistic Food Coach, Natural Chef, Massage Specialist & Yoga teacher. I am passionate about your health and well-being. Now, health and well-being is my life! I practice yoga every morning. I attend and support my community fitness centre and I have recently learned how to swim.