Updated: Feb 20, 2022
Injuries are inevitable in the human experience and affect each one of us from time to time. Athletes are no exception to this of course and are far more likely to encounter injuries than the less active people around them. Athletes generally push their bodies quite hard and are therefore more likely to injure themselves. Today, we are going to look at two categories of injuries, these are, acute and overuse injuries.
Acute injuries are generally associated with sudden trauma, for example, a collision with another player during a game, a fall, sprain, or broken bone. Overuse injuries, on the other hand, are caused by repetitive motions over a period of time. For example, swinging a tennis racket or pitching a baseball. Overuse injuries are harder to identify as discomfort, pain, or even swelling may not begin right away.
How then, can you avoid such injuries? We will look at the most common injuries that affect athletes and we will be providing tips on how to prevent these injuries from occurring.
What are the most common injuries among athletes?
Overuse injuries are among the most common injuries that athletes suffer from. An overuse injury occurs from the same repetitive motion during long hours of intense training or competing.
Stress fractures are small cracks that develop in bones caused by repetitive force or overuse (usually in the feet) and can worsen if untreated. Stress fractures are very common among runners and jumpers as they most commonly occur in the feet. Stress fracture pain develops gradually, rather than a sharp sudden pain that you would expect in most other instances. Most of the time, there are no obvious symptoms apart from minor swelling.
Muscle strains are the stretching or tearing of the muscle when forced beyond its full capacity. When the muscle fibers are torn, the muscle is unable to function properly and will require a longer healing process. This condition is most common in contact sports such as football, as well as sports that require a quick change of motion like soccer, basketball, and tennis.
Some of the symptoms of muscle strains are swelling, cramps, spasms, a decrease in muscle strength, and in some cases, a complete loss of muscle function.
3. Cartilage Tears & Torn Ligaments
When a joint is forced into an unnatural position beyond its normal range, the ligaments and cartilage will stretch beyond their natural capacity and may tear resulting in an injury. Torn ligaments most commonly occur in the wrists and ankles. Some of the symptoms of a torn ligament include inflammation, swelling, numbness, and pain (if applying weight to the affected area).
To address this problem, physical therapists have come up with different programs that are designed to help athletes prevent these injuries from occurring. Most of the programs incorporate strength and conditioning, as well as stretching, which are the most important elements for preventing sports injuries. It is important to work with professionals that are experienced in working alongside athletes. They will make sure you are properly conditioned before giving you the green light. Aside from strength and conditioning exercises, there are also some other things you can do to help prevent yourself from incurring an injury.
If you are planning to adjust your workout regiment, then try to adjust it gradually. Experts recommend that if you want to add more time and intensify your training routine, then it is best to do so over several months as pushing your body too hard too soon could result in an injury.
Always wear good quality shoes. It is recommended to discard worn-out or poor-quality footwear as this can also lead to injuries. New running shoes provide adequate cushioning for your feet, and by design, reduce stress on your ankles and feet. Old worn-out or poor-quality shoes, generally lack the cushioning and support for your feet. You should consider investing in good-quality running shoes that will provide your feet with the support they need.
Also, be sure to get enough vitamin D and Calcium as having healthy strong bones is a necessity for preventing injuries. Vitamin D can be obtained naturally from sunlight, however, there are a number of variables that can affect how much vitamin D you will absorb so you may find that you need to consider supplementing vitamin D in the form of a multivitamin. Calcium is contained in a number of foods such as milk, eggs, meat, lentils, beans, nuts, and seeds. Calcium levels can drop especially with age so it might be a good idea to consider supplementing calcium in the form of a multivitamin if your calcium levels are too low. As always, be sure to consult your physician first as in some cases, multivitamins may not be the best option for you.
Spend 10-15 minutes warming up with some light cardiovascular and stretching exercises. Warm-up exercises are important because they help supply your muscles with oxygen and raise the temperature of your muscles. This promotes flexibility and looseness in stiff areas of the body. Performing high-impact motions such as sprinting or jumping with cold muscles, increases the likelihood of injury.
It is always recommended to ease your way into any new form of exercise. If you suddenly introduce high-intensity, rigorous training exercises to your body, this can overload your system and result in an injury. If you want to increase the intensity of your workouts, then you should always make gradual increases over a period of months in order to allow your body plenty of time to adjust.
Finally, be sure to carefully follow the plan of your physical therapist. They will teach you about your body's movement, mechanics, and how to correctly use techniques and forms applicable to your training regiment.
At Arise Physical Therapy, our licensed physical therapists can customize an exercise and sports injury prevention program for you, that recognizes the weaknesses of your musculoskeletal system while promoting quick recovery times. If you want to know more about injury prevention and sports rehabilitation, then please get in touch with us today!