We all know the benefits of sports, and most of us are acquainted with the feeling of finally becoming good at one. Heck, many of us have at least dabbled in some sports, if not committed years of our lives to them. Unfortunately, every type of sports career comes with a certain risk of injury, some more than others. However, most people would agree that the positives far outweigh the risks of sports injuries, and there are plenty of things we can do to prevent getting hurt while exercising.
The Most Common Sports Injuries & How to Prevent Them
First off, poor warm-up routines can cause a variety of injuries, because you shock your muscles and joints into action. Without a proper warm-up, your blood vessels aren’t dilated enough, causing an insufficient amount of oxygen to reach your muscles. Warming up also loosens your joints by increasing your body’s temperature.
You’ve most probably heard the phrase “no pain, no gain” tossed around, but we’d like to remind you that a lot of pain is dangerous. Working hard is admirable, but overworking yourself can cause more harm than good.
It’s often overlooked that bad sports injuries can be the result of an inadequate technique. Whether you’re exercising alone or participating in a team sport, you risk harming yourself by repeating improper actions.
We’re all predisposed to some kind of injury; everyone has some weakness that they should look out for. For example, knees, ankles, and hips are most commonly associated with genetic proclivities.
Perhaps the most unavoidable threats are impacts sustained while participating in group sports, especially when it comes to high-contact ones. That’s not to say that you can’t get injured during one-person sports, but the additional players increase the odds significantly.
Most Common Sports Injuries
1. Runner’s knee
Runner’s knee is an umbrella term that covers a range of knee-related injuries, most of which cause pain around the kneecap (patella). Therefore, patellofemoral syndrome is usually the first to come to mind when this term is mentioned. Even though the name ties these injuries to runners, many other activities can cause them. A considerable number of these can be treated by following the RICE (rest, ice, compression and elevation) method.
2. Rotator cuff injuries
Rotator cuff injuries are among the most frequent of shoulder injuries in sports. An acute injury or overuse can cause the tendons that surround your shoulder to strain or tear. A rotator cuff strain/tear is followed by a dull pain in your shoulder.
3. Tennis elbow
Tennis elbow is a condition often developed by non-athletes as well, but it’s most commonly seen in players of racquet sports. It’s similar to golfer’s elbow, but you can distinguish the two by paying attention to the origin of the pain. Tennis elbow is usually characterised by pain on the outside of the elbow, while those suffering from golfer’s elbow will feel it on the inside.
4. Pulled groin or groin strain
A pulled groin or groin strain is caused by running or suddenly changing directions. Types of sports injuries such as this one are most likely to happen to football or rugby players, as they require a lot of those motions. If you feel pain in your groin or the inside of your thigh, you’ve probably pulled your groin.
5. Shin splints
Shin splints – also referred to as medial tibial stress syndrome – are brought about by the inflammation of the muscles, tendons, and the connective tissue around your shin bone. This isn’t a serious injury, and in most cases you won’t feel more than tenderness or soreness.
6. Hamstring strains
Hamstring strains are very common sports injuries, but luckily the majority of them just require rest. One or more muscles at the back of your thigh get stretched too far, and that can either tear or strain them. Regrettably, the frequency of recurrent hamstring injuries is high in professional sports.
Sciatica is pain resulting from harm or pressure to the sciatic nerve that stretches from your lower back and down each of your legs. Symptoms are typically restricted to one side of your body. Aside from the pain, some numbness in the afflicted leg is also to be expected.
Concussions are brain injuries caused by an impact to the head. It’s estimated that yearly in the US, there are between 1.7 and 3 million head injuries in sports resulting in concussions. To know if someone is suffering from one, look for the following signs: a lasting headache, dizziness, nausea, sensitivity to light or noise, confusion, and memory issues.
9. Pulled hip flexor
Hip flexors are the muscles at the front of the hip. Cyclists, runners, martial artists, and soccer players are especially susceptible to hip flexor strains, as these muscles are necessary for high kicks or any sort of motion that includes moving your knee upward significantly.
Fractures of bones in wrists, hands, collarbones, ankles and feet are common sports injuries among participants in high-contact sports and of course, extreme sports like skydiving, climbing, and freestyle skiing.
Most Dangerous Sports
The majority of extreme sports with the highest risk factors involve jumping from a great height with a parachute, cord, skis, or in some cases (for example cliff jumping) without any gear at all. These are not for the faint of heart and should never be attempted without proper supervision or training.
The slightly less life-threatening and more popular but nevertheless dangerous sports are:
You may not have expected horseback riding to be at the top of this list, but consider the fact that certain assessments place equestrianism among the sports with the most injuries on an annual level. An injury is likely to occur for every 350 to 1,000 hours of riding.
A helmet and protective clothing can only do so much when you’re hurtling 100 miles per hour down a racetrack. It’s a sport with a very high death toll.
It might seem odd that anyone would actually choose to lay flat on a sled and go down an icy pipe at ridiculous speeds, but some people do. The luge is one of the oldest and most dangerous Winter Olympic sports.
We doubt that anyone is shocked by the severity of head-related sports injuries that boxers obtain on a regular basis. For instance, according to the Association of Neurological Surgeons, 90% of boxers will get a concussion during their careers.
American Football and Rugby
These two sports feature people slamming into each other at full force, so it’s not surprising that at least one player ends up with a concussion in almost every American football game. Rugby shares many of the same characteristics and statistics as American football.
When it comes to mountain climbing, the causes of sports injuries can be attributed to both the demanding nature of the sport and the weather conditions, which can drastically affect the safety of the participants. Mountain climbers are also in danger of avalanches and rockfalls.
Although skiing isn’t as hazardous as it may seem, it still carries a certain amount of risk. Losing balance during a competition or any such mishap can cause the athlete to go plummeting down the slope. Additionally, inexperienced skiers should avoid skiing off-piste, as the snow there isn’t flattened and could be hiding many obstacles beneath it. It’s quite easy to get lost outside of marked paths as well.
Despite all the padding players wear, the list of sports injuries that occur due to rough hockey games is long. However, better equipment and rule changes over the past several years have made hockey safer. Even so, any event involving ice, sharp blades, huge players, and heated tempers can’t remain injury-free.
Worst and Weirdest Injuries of All Time
Gale Sayers (football) – he tore the ligaments in his right knee and then the cartilage in his left knee in two separate NFL games in 1968 and 1969
Rashad Johnson (football) – the tip of his middle finger was cut off in 2013
Maurice Stokes (basketball) – he suffered a life-changing sports injury in the last game of the 1958 season; he hit his head on the floor and was knocked unconscious, three days later, he fell into a coma and after three weeks he woke up permanently paralysed
Monica Seles (tennis) – back in 1993, she was stabbed in the back by a mentally unstable fan who ran up to her during a match
Sidney Crosby (hockey) – Crosby suffered two concussions in 2011, only four days apart
As you can see from the previous paragraph, sometimes freak accidents are unavoidable, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of things that we can do to prevent sports injuries from occurring in everyday situations.
This part of our article is closely related to everything we’ve listed in the Causes section. Simply put, most of those causes can be easily avoided.
For starters, you should never shorten or skip your warm-up. It can be dull, but disregarding it can lead to consequences that definitely aren’t worth the few minutes you’d save.
Secondly, knowing your body’s limits and when to stop is vital for your long-term health. Sometimes you might not even be aware of a minor injury you’ve sustained. These can usually heal on their own through rest, but “pushing through the pain” can just aggravate them.
Thirdly, the prevention of sports injuries goes all the way back to your very first encounter with a new sport. You should pay close attention to everything your instructor is telling you to do. Even if you aren’t a beginner, there’s no such thing as a perfect player. Improving your technique is always helpful in avoiding strains and tears.
Finally, if you know that you’re prone to certain types of injuries, you should try to avoid activities that include motions that are most likely to harm you. If that isn’t possible, there are many pads, guards, and straps that can help you secure the body part in jeopardy.
Despite all that, sports and injuries are inseparable, because even if you do take all of the above-mentioned precautions, you can never predict exactly what is going to happen during a sporting event. The best you can do is be prepared, participate responsibly, and avoid unnecessary risks.
What is the most common injury in sports?
Perhaps the most common injuries in sports are knee-related conditions. This is because your entire body is supported by your legs. Most sports involve not only running and jumping, but also sudden twisting, turning, or crouching, thus putting your knees under a lot of pressure.
What injury takes the longest to heal?
Sports injuries relating to bone fractures can take a while to heal. Recovering from a compound fracture can last as long as eight months.
What sport has the most injuries?
Surprisingly, basketball is at the very top when it comes to the number of injuries sustained by players. According to the study conducted by the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine, six to 14 injuries are to be expected for every 1,000 hours of basketball played.