A sports injury can affect almost any part of your body, but most often, the musculoskeletal system bears the brunt of the harm. You’re at risk for sports injuries if you:
- Haven’t been regularly active
- Don’t warm up properly before exercise
- Try to do too much too fast
- Play contact sports
In addition, there’s a high risk of repetitive use injuries and those caused by improper protective gear among weekend warriors.
At Santa Cruz Osteopathic, osteopathic physician Dr. Richard Bernstein diagnoses and treats the most common sports injuries in his patients in Capitola, California. As an osteopathic physician specializing in physical medicine and rehabilitation, Dr. Bernstein treats you holistically, helping you recover and boosting your game.
Common sports injuries
Your symptoms and complications depend largely on where and how you got hurt and how severe the injury is. The most common sports injuries include:
Sprains occur when you overstretch or tear ligaments, pieces of tissue that connect two bones together in a joint. Sprains most often happen in the ankle joint.
Strains occur when you overstretch or tear muscles or tendons, the latter being thick, fibrous cords that connect bones to muscles. Strains are commonly mistaken for sprains. The two most common locations for muscle strain are the hamstring in the leg and the lower back.
The knee is a complex joint held in place by ligaments forming an “X” shape across the front area. A partial or complete tear of the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is one of the better-known injuries to this joint. Also common are tears in the meniscus, the slippery cartilage that allows the knee joint to swing forward and backward smoothly.
Achilles tendinitis or tendon rupture
The Achilles tendon is a thin, powerful tendon that connects your heel bone to your calf muscles. If you’re a long-distance runner or ballet dancer, you may develop tendinitis, or inflammation of the tendon, from repetitive strain.
You can also rupture your tendon. If this happens, you’ll experience sudden, severe pain and have difficulty walking.
Fractures, aka broken bones, can also occur due to repetitive stress or an acute injury. With repetitive stress, microfractures (stress fractures) can occur in the overused area, while an acute injury is most often the result of a severe blow to that part of your body.
A dislocation forces a bone out of the socket in which it resides. This can be extremely painful and lead to swelling and weakness.
Sports injury prevention
Preventing an injury from occurring is far better than treating an injury after the fact.
Start by warming up properly and stretching. Cold muscles are vulnerable to overstretching and tears, but warm muscles are more flexible and better able to handle quick movements, bends, and jerks, making injury less likely.
Properly warmed up, use these strategies to prevent injury:
Use the proper technique
Whatever your sport, learn the proper way to move during your workout time because different types of exercise require different moving methods. Not following appropriate guidelines leads to injury.
Use the proper equipment
Make sure you have the right shoes for your sport; different sports require different designs and types of support. Also, make sure you have the proper equipment to keep you safe. A baseball catcher, for example, needs a face mask, chest protector, and leg protectors, while a skateboarder should have elbow and knee protection and a helmet. It’s a key way to prevent injury.
Don’t do too much
If you get hurt, ensure you’re completely healed and medically cleared before starting up again. Never try to “work through” the pain; its purpose is to keep you safe by alerting you to problems. When you’re ready, ease back into the sport rather than trying to do everything at full tilt; that only leads to re-injury.
Just like you warmed up before exercising, you need to cool down once you’re through. Usually, you can use the same stretching and exercises you did in the warm-up.
Want more tips on how to stay safe with exercise and sports? Have a sports injury that needs treating? Give Santa Cruz Osteopathic a call at 831-464-1605 to set up a consultation with Dr. Bernstein, or book online with us today.