Though getting exercise is an important component of a healthy lifestyle, there are always risks of injury when playing a sport. Accidents happen, but there are ways you can lower your risk of injury and maintain longevity in your joints.
What Are the Most Common Injuries in Sports?
The type of injury may have more to do with the specific type of sport you are playing. For example, swimmers often suffer from "swimmer's shoulder" due to the repetitive action of the arms when swimming. There are a few different types of sports injuries that are the most common among patients:
- Sprains and strains: a sprain like an ankle sprain is a common injury we see especially in those who have recently taken up a sport. Too much shifting and pushing off the feet in ways you haven't done in a while put a strain on the joint and can cause pain or injury. Make sure to start slow and warm up properly.
- Fractures or bone breaks: these types of injuries are often accidents. However, making sure you know how to fall or how to tackle properly can help prevent injury in sports like gymnastics or football.
- Knee injuries: Since the legs are one of the most used ailments of the body in terms of movement, they tend to see the most injuries.
- Achilles tendon injuries: Pushing off when running or cutting can cause these types of injuries.
- Shin Splints- this is often seen in runners. If you are getting back into running, make sure to build your way back up and recover by icing and elevating when you are done.
- Rotator cuff injuries- often seen in throwing sports, rotator cuff injuries can happen due to overuse. Make sure to use the RICE method (rest, ice, compress and elevate) in order to properly recover after playing.
- Dislocations: Contact sports tend to see the most dislocations. this acute injury happens when the ends of your bones move out of place.
How Can You Prevent Injuries in Sports?
At Elite Sports Medicine, we encourage all of our patients to live active lifestyles. It is important to find the type of exercise that not only works well for your body but that you actually enjoy doing! If you enjoy doing it rather than seeing it as punishment, you are more likely to do it every day. Though this active lifestyle is highly encouraged, there are things you should keep in mind before jumping into any sport. Here are a few tips our sports medicine doctors recommend-
Not Doing Too Much Too Soon
If you have recently taken up a sport, or are getting back into it after an extended break, it is important to start slow. Many injuries come from those who did too much during their first intramural game or first run after a long break. Start slow and remember it is okay if your body isn't what it use to be! Some of our most motivated athletes just want to jump right back to where they were, but you cannot accomplish your long-term goals if you get injured during the process.
Making sure you are stretching and warming up before exercising is one of the most important factors in injury prevention. Our joints stiffen if we have been sitting or are not as active. You want to make sure your joints are well-lubricated before performing any intense activity. Joint teats like MCL or ACL tears can occur if you have not properly stretched or warmed up.
To read more about pre-workout strategies, check out our blog Physical Therapy Tips- Static and Dynamic Stretches
Wear Your Sports Gear
If you are participating in a sport like baseball or football, it is important to wear the proper gear in order to prevent injury. Make sure your gear is in good condition and worn properly. All helmets and pads should be secure and strapped in place.
Who Should You See for a Sports Injury?
Orthopedic surgeons see all types of sports injuries. Based on what the injury is, seeing an orthopedic surgeon who specializes in that specific injury will be best. These surgeons have extra training in your injury and will know the best possible treatment to get you back to your sport.
If you play sports for a school, there should be an athletic trainer who can assist you until you are able to see a doctor. Be careful to not put added stress on your injury until you arrive at the doctor or hospital if it's a serious injury.
What is the Role of an Athletic Trainer in Sports?
An athletic trainer is a crucial part of team sports. There are a host of responsibilities they take on when caring for a team.
- Injury prevention
Your athletic trainer should be a part of your practice overseeing their players. Running drills and teaching their players about injury prevention is part of the athletic trainer's job as opposed to the coach's.
An athletic trainer is often the first person on the field when a player is injured. They should be trained on how to diagnose a player who is injured. This goes into knowing the next steps for the player like when to seek immediate medical attention, when to stop a player from continuing to play, and basic medical care for minor injuries.
- Emergency Care
In the unfortunate case that a player is severely injured, it is the athletic trainer's responsibility to get the player off the field and on the way to the nearest emergency care clinic. They should be trained in emergency care like CPR, be familiar with ambulance care, etc.
- Conditioning and Rehabilitation
To prevent injury in sports, it is important to keep your body conditioned. One of the biggest causes of injury in sports is doing too much all at once. Your athletic trainer will be a good resource for helping keep your body healthy and ready for your sport.
Rehabilitation after an injury is also a task of your athletic trainer. Depending on your injury, you may also be working with a physical therapist. It is the job of the athletic trainer to be the middle man between medical care and coaches / administrative staff. They should be able to modify your activity during practice and in games to ensure your safety.
- Administrative tasks
Whether it is emails from coaches, parents, medical staff, etc, there is a big chunk of an athletic trainer's job that revolves around administrative tasks. Being the middleman between players and medical care requires a lot of communication.
Our sports medicine doctors in Nashville always encourage patients to live healthy, active lifestyles. Participating in sports has both physical as well as amazing mental health/community benefits. You should never have to avoid the things you love for fear of injury. Instead, talk to your doctor about ways you can safely do what you love while preventing injuries!