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Common Types of Sports Injuries

Source: Carol Eustice; Medically reviewed by Stuart Hershman, MD Updated on February 11, 2020

Increasing numbers of people of all ages have been heeding the advice to get active for all of the health benefits exercise has to offer. But sports injuries can be the price you pay, particularly if you overdo it or you don't properly train or warm-up.

Fortunately, most sports injuries can be treated effectively, and most people who suffer injuries can return to a satisfying level of physical activity after an injury. Even better, many sports injuries can be prevented if you take the proper precautions. Some sports injuries result from accidents; others are due to:

  • Poor training practices

  • Improper equipment

  • Lack of conditioning

  • Insufficient warmup and stretching

What Are Sports Injuries? The term sports injury, in the broadest sense, refers to the kinds of injuries that most commonly occur during sports or exercise. Although virtually any part of your body can be injured during sports or exercise, the term is usually reserved for injuries that involve the musculoskeletal system, which includes the muscles, bones, and associated tissues like cartilage. Traumatic brain and spinal cord injuries are relatively rare during sports or exercise.

  • Types of Injuries in Sports Muscle sprains and strains

  • Tears of the ligaments that hold joints together

  • Tears of the tendons that support joints and allow them to move

  • Dislocated joints

Fractured bones, including vertebrae Bruises, Sprains and Strains A bruise, or muscle contusion, can result from a fall or contact with a hard surface, a piece of equipment, or another player while participating in sports. A bruise results when muscle fiber and connective tissue are crushed; torn blood vessels may cause a bluish appearance. Most bruises are minor, but some can cause more extensive damage and complications.

Sprains A sprain is a stretch or tear of a ligament, the band of connective tissues that joins the end of one bone with another. Sprains are caused by trauma such as a fall or blow to the body that knocks a joint out of position and, in the worst case, ruptures the supporting ligaments. Sprains can range from first degree (minimally stretched ligament) to third degree (a complete tear).

Areas of the body most vulnerable to sprains are: Ankles, Knees and Wrists. Signs of a sprain include:

  • varying degrees of tenderness or pain;

  • bruising;

  • inflammation;

  • swelling;

  • inability to move a limb or joint;

  • or joint looseness, laxity, or instability.

Strains A strain is a twist, pull, or tear of a muscle or tendon, a cord of tissue connecting muscle to bone. It is an acute, non-contact injury that results from overstretching or over-contraction. Symptoms of a strain include:

  • Pain

  • Muscle spasm

  • Loss of strength

While it's hard to tell the difference between mild and moderate strains, severe strains not treated professionally can cause damage and loss of function.

The most common cause of Achilles tendon tears is a problem called tendinitis, a degenerative condition caused by aging or overuse. When a tendon is weakened, trauma can cause it to rupture.

Achilles Tendon Injury Prevention Achilles tendon injuries are common in middle-aged "weekend warriors" who may not exercise regularly or take the time to stretch properly before activity. Among professional athletes, most Achilles injuries seem to occur in quick-acceleration, jumping sports like football and basketball, and almost always end the season's competition for the athlete.

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