Orthopedic Specialists

Common Sports Injuries and How To Prevent Them

August 9, 2022

With fall sports just around the corner, understanding how to prevent common sports injuries is an important topic for both athletes and parents. No matter what sport you play and no matter what intensity level, there are certain steps that you can take to avoid getting injured this season. 

how to prevent sports injuries

Common Types of Sports Injuries

If you’ve played sports, or even if you don’t play an organized sport but are very active, you’ve likely experienced an injury before. Common athletic injuries include:

  • Torn muscles and ligaments (torn ACL, MCL, etc.)

  • Pulled muscle

  • Shin splints 

  • Back pain and neck pain

  • Fractures 

  • Concussion 

  • Other ankle injuries, knee injuries, back injuries, and elbow injuries

These types of injuries are common at sports injury clinics, and the type of injury treatment can vary based on the type and severity of the injury. However, there are ways that you can mitigate the risk of experiencing any of these common injuries in sports. 

How Can I Prevent A Sports Injury?

Before hitting the field or gym, there are some basic steps that you can take to prevent injuries. 

  • Staying active in the off-season: Don’t limit your training to one season. Staying active during your off-season helps prevent muscle loss, maintain endurance, retain flexibility, and more. Staying in shape throughout the year helps maintain performance while preventing deterioration that can lead to injuries when your season resumes.  

  • Proper prep the day before: The day before a practice or game is just as important as the day of. Making sure you get plenty of water, a nutritious meal, and the right amount of sleep not only reduces the risk of getting injured but also helps you perform better. 

  • Having the right gear: Having the proper helmets, pads, and other protective gear is crucial to preventing injuries and mitigating the severity of an injury if it does occur. Make sure you have all of the right gear, that it fits properly, and that you’re wearing it any time you’re in the game or at practice. It’s worth it to take the time to do some research before buying protective gear to make sure that your choosing the best option to keep you protected while you play. 

  • Warming up and cooling down: Warming up before competing is vital to prepare your body to play and prevent injury. Some light cardio to get your heart rate up and plenty of stretching to get your muscles loose and flexible can be the difference between a bruise and a torn muscle if you take a fall. Most athletes know the importance of a good warm-up, but a good cool-down is often overlooked. Cooling down after a workout allows your body to gradually recover to your normal heart rate and blood pressure. If you’re not doing an adequate cool-down routine you’re slowing muscle recovery, increasing the risk of an injury, and even reducing the benefits you gained during your workout. 

  • Staying hydrated: Any athlete knows the importance of staying hydrated during a game, but it’s also vital to be fully hydrated before and after activity as well. Being properly hydrated not only prevents dehydration but also:

    • Reduces the risk of heat stroke and heat exhaustion 

    • Helps maintain normal blood pressure 

    • Improves blood flow and circulation

    • Improves delivery of oxygen and nutrients to the muscles

  • Overexertion: It’s perfectly normal to get tired during a game or practice, but it’s important to know your limits. If you’re feeling dizzy, nauseous, or lightheaded, it’s important to take a break and drink plenty of water before getting back into the game. If you fall or take a hit and something feels off, don’t ignore it. Continuing to play before seeing a sports medicine provider when you may have an injury can result in a worse injury, longer recovery time, and even lasting damage. 

Treating Sports Injuries

No matter your injury, it’s important to seek care from an orthopedic clinic/sports medicine clinic as soon as possible. The faster your injury is diagnosed and treated, the better the recovery outcome. Injury recovery and injury treatment can vary depending on the type of injury but most injuries benefit from the following treatments:

  • Physical Therapy: Physical therapy is a vital part of sports injury rehabilitation. Physical therapists will provide individualized care to address your specific injury to help you recover faster and better. Physical therapy helps you not only recover from your injury but can also help improve balance, flexibility, and range of motion. Physical therapists can also provide valuable resources and information to help you prevent future injuries and improve your athletic performance. 

  • Ice and/or Heat: In addition to seeking specialized care from an orthopedic doctor, ice and/or heat therapy can help with injury recovery and symptom management. As a general rule of thumb, ice is used for acute injuries or pain along with inflammation and swelling, while heat is used for muscle pain or stiffness. Learn when to use ice, heat, or both!  

  • Rest: Give your injury the time it needs to heal fully to not only prevent further injury but also to ensure optimal performance. It is important that both you and your physical therapist/orthopedic doctor are fully confident that you’re ready to get back in the game. 

Expert Sports Medicine Care With No Appointment Needed

At Orthopedic Specialists, we offer walk-in sports medicine clinics starting at 7:30 AM Monday-Friday. From diagnosis to treatment to ongoing care, we can help you put your injury behind you so you can get back to playing the sports you love!

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