In 2021, 3.2 million people were treated in emergency departments for injuries involving sports and recreational equipment according to the national safety council. The activities most frequently associated with injuries are exercise, cycling, and basketball, and the most common ailments include shin splints, hamstring strains, golf/tennis elbow, ankle sprains, knee pain, shoulder pain, and achilleas tendonitis.

What Causes Sports Injuries?

Improper intensity — Make sure your body can handle the frequency or intensity of your training and slowly build your intensity level

Underlying injury — If you have a previous or underlying injury, you may be predisposed to problems that could cause further injury

Inappropriate equipment or clothing — Make sure your equipment is right for your body in terms of weight and length, and always wear the proper protective clothing 

Types of Sports Injuries

Common sports injuries include:

  • Muscle and tendon injuries — An injury to a tendon is called a strain or a tear. The term strain is used interchangeably with “partial tear” to mean disruption of some of the muscle fibers.
  • Overuse injuries — Overuse injuries are typically the result of tendons becoming inflamed, and tendons commonly affected include the rotator cuff, Achilles, elbow, patella, plantar fascia.
  • Ligament injuries — An injury to a ligament is called a sprain or a tear. These include the ligaments on the outside of the ankle, the anterior cruciate ligament in the knee. A sprain occurs when some of the ligaments are partially torn, a tear is when the ligament is completely disrupted.  
  • Bone injuries – an acute trauma, such as a broken ankle or wrist, is indicated by bruising, swelling and pain.  
  • Stress injuries – these are typically related to overuse and repetitive stress to a bone, and can range from a bruising to a stress fracture. Stress injuries are often the result of a load that is too intense or inappropriate footwear.

How To Treat an Injury

If you suffer an acute or overuse injury, be sure to do the following:

  • Protect the affected area from further injury with a brace or sling
  • Rest the area or load it cautiously as guided by pain level
  • Apply ice to the affected area for 20 minutes every 2 to 3 hours
  • Limit swelling and damage by using a compression bandage
  • Elevate the injured body part above heart level to reduce swelling
  • See your doctor to determine proper care and next steps

Authored by Zach Meeker, Research Assistant for Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush University Medical Center

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