Staying physically active is essential when it comes to maintaining a healthy body. However, an active lifestyle is also a leading cause of injury.
Fortunately, by looking at the most common types of sports-related injuries, it’s easy to see patterns emerge. It also makes it fairly clear that you can avoid many injuries by taking the right steps.
Dr. Richard Bernstein is a sports injury specialist here at Santa Cruz Osteopathic in Capitola, California. If you’re nursing a sports injury, he’s ready to help you with orthopedic treatment that can restore your game.
Four common sports injuries
First, when it comes to sports injuries, it doesn’t matter if you dabble in sports or play professionally. The most common problems usually stem from excessive force or repetitive strain.
Here are the top-four sports injuries Dr. Bernstein sees, along with steps you can take to prevent them.
Each day, 25,000 Americans sprain an ankle. In fact, this injury is so widespread, virtually anyone who is active in a sport for years experiences at least a mild sprain.
When you sprain your ankle, your foot turns inward suddenly. This movement overextends your ankle's outside ligaments, which are susceptible to injury because they aren’t terribly strong. Ankle sprains vary by degree and location.
You can reduce your chance of sprains by doing exercises to strengthen the ankle. Dr. Bernstein usually recommends strengthening the outer ankle by doing ankle circles and calf raises three times a week.
If you perform repetitive motions, like swinging a golf club or tennis racquet, you’re at risk of sports injury. These repetitive motions inflame elbow tissue and create small tears in the joint’s tendon. Golf elbow produces pain in the inner elbow while tennis elbow is typically felt on the outside of the elbow.
Surprisingly, the best preventive treatment involves wrist and hand exercises, like finger stretches and wrist flexors. You can also have a sports expert, like a qualified tennis or golf coach, analyze your body mechanics while swinging to help identify and correct issues that could lead to elbow injury.
Between 100,000-200,000 Americans tear their anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) each year. These injuries are the most serious common sports injury, affecting both casual and professional athletes across a wide range of sports.
ACL tears occur during fast stops and changes of directions, like the actions seen in tennis, football, and basketball. When you completely tear your ACL, you often need surgery if you want to maintain your ability to participate in sports.
To help prevent ACL tears, you can strengthen the muscles supporting your knees by doing calf raises and lunges. With more support, you can spread out the strain of movement that puts stress on the ACL.
Sports that see the highest numbers of groin injuries include football, baseball, hockey, and soccer. That’s because these athletes in these games perform a lot of side-to-side motion.
Groin strains — or groin pulls — occur when the muscles of the inner thighs are strained. They can also be slow to heal because these muscles are used constantly in everyday life, even by walking, and it’s tough for active people to lie on the couch for days to help the recovery process.
Fortunately, some exercises can support your recovery. Examples include mild hip abductor and hamstring stretches. You can also avoid groin strains by regularly doing side planks, hip abductions, and flexions with resistance bands. When part of your regular training routine, they can help strengthen the groin and protect against future injuries.
It’s essential to warm up and cool down before any physical activity, even walking. You should also be aware of your personal abilities and try to play within them. Taking these steps can help prevent these sports injuries along with a wide range of others.
However, accidents can still happen. Rest easy knowing that, if they do, Dr. Bernstein can help you recover. Just call the office at 831-316-1493 or request an appointment online today.