We’ve all seen it; that moment when an athlete crumbles to the ground, immobilized by or writhing in unbearable pain. From strains to sprains, it seems like injuries in sports are inevitable. In the best case scenario, the athlete is rehabbed efficiently and quickly returns to the competition. In the worst case, the injury is career-ending.
There’s a common misconception that anytime you step out onto the field of play, you always run the risk of some sort of injury. In the majority of cases, however, sports injuries are preventable. It’s important to be vigilant while exercising and listen to your body. Without further ado, here are the 3 most common injuries in sports:
1. Ankle Sprain
This injury occurs when the ligaments in your ankle tear or get stretched too much. It usually happens on the outside of the ankle, when you “roll” your foot. As a result, the ligament on the outside of your ankle is stretched more than it’s able to.
Your body responds with signs such as swelling, bruising, tenderness, itching or stiffness in the ankle. A lot of ankle sprains occur in sports which involve a lot of jumping. The risk is also higher when there’s a chance of stepping on someone’s foot. These sports include basketball, soccer and volleyball.
2. ACL Strain
The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is a ligament that runs behind the knee, between the femur (thighbone) and tibia (shinbone). Straining the ACL can occur when a player suddenly decelerates, tries to abruptly change running direction, hyperextension of the knee or pivoting in place.
Symptoms can include sudden and severe knee pain, a feeling of looseness in the joint, swelling or an inability to put weight on the joint without pain. Sports where ACL strain is high risk include soccer and baseball.
3. Tennis Elbow
This injury is brought on by the overuse of the arm, forearm and hand muscles. Surprisingly, only a small group of people diagnosed with tennis elbow actually get it from playing tennis. Nevertheless, the risk is high for racquet sports such as squash or racquetball. In tennis elbow sufferers, the pain is focused on the outside of the arm, where your forearm meets your elbow.
When you constantly use your arm in a repetitive motion, the tendons at the elbow end of the ECR (extensor carpi radialis) muscle may develop small tears. As a result, the tears lead to inflammation, putting stress on your arm and making it painful to lift and grip things.
To prevent injuries, each workout should start with a gentle warmup. Getting warmed up increases blood flow to the muscles, gets your more flexible and could decrease injuries.
There are also cognitive training tools that help strengthen your peripheral vision. Heightened visual processing skills could help prevent injuries as they allow you to better read your opponent’s actions and respond more quickly. This could mean the difference between dodging your opponent and colliding with them head on. Stay safe!
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