Sports injuries can be devastating to athletes. Whether you are an occasional or an every-day athlete, you are susceptible to sports injuries. Some can be life-threatening to an extent of leading to paralysis, whereas other minor injuries can subside in a few weeks using self-treatment.
Sports players need to be well-rounded with the typical injuries they could possibly sustain so that they take precautionary measures. This article extends its scope to the worst sports injuries that a player can have. It further highlights tips on how to avoid the injuries.
What are sports injuries?
Sports injuries are generally injuries sustained from an engagement in sports or exercises. These are the injuries linked to the musculoskeletal system which involves the tendons, muscles, cartilage and the bones. Usually, sports injuries can occur due to a lack of warm-up exercises, lack of conditioning, overexercising using improper training techniques, etc.
There are many types of sports injuries as highlighted later in the article. The common types of injuries sustained from sports include the ankle sprains, muscle strains, fractured vertebrae, dislocations, tendons and knee injuries. Injuries can further be classified as acute or chronic injuries. Moreover, there are mild and severe injuries of which mild injuries can subside following a self-treatment called RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation).
Causes of Sports Injuries
The causes of sports injuries can differ from one sport to the other. For instance, the impact felt in soccer or rugby is not equivalent to the one felt in basketball. Nonetheless, many causes are common across all sporting activities. These include an improper training routine, weakened ligaments, tendons and muscles, lack of warm-up and poor training techniques. These are further discussed below:
- Lack of warm-up – Body muscles need to be prepared prior to undertaking any physical activity. Warming up the muscles increases the blood circulation and the body temperature. Failure to warm-up can expose to injuries when you start training or playing. Roughly 15 to 30 minutes of warm-up should be sufficient to ensure that you are well-prepared. That can be achieved through various pre-participation exercises such as cardiovascular and stretching.
- Improper training schedules – Training bears lots of health benefits if done properly. Overtraining can subject your body to too much stress and eventually sports injuries such as pulled groin muscles, twisted ankles, or knee injuries. The list is not all-inclusive. Ideally, you should have sufficient breaks in-between your workouts for the muscles to relax. Such breaks are even more important if you are just starting with strenuous exercises after a long-break of mobility. The symptoms of this cause are excessive fatigue, impaired concentration and insomnia.
- Weakened ligaments, tendons, muscles – if your muscles are weak, you can be vulnerable to sports injuries for unusual movements you make in the field. The best way to prevent this is to consult with the practitioner before engaging in any strenuous exercise. This will help the doctor to diagnose problems early so as to prevent injuries resulting from a weakened body.
- Overuse – overuse of muscles and joints can also lead to sports injuries, particularly to what are termed as chronic injuries due to repetitive strains. The symptoms to the overused muscles include the long-lasting pain that worsens over time and swelling around the muscles. It is important that you do not exert too much force on your muscles over a long time without taking a break during your workouts or other sporting activities.
- Poor training techniques – some sports injuries are also attributed to poor training techniques. If you pursue a certain exercise using a poor technique, chances are you may injure yourself in a process. To avoid using poor techniques, ensure that you outsource the expertise of an expert personal trainer or coach to help you configure the best methods of working out.
- Impact – If you are playing rugby or soccer, it’s unlikely that you can avoid impacts as they form part of the definition of the sports in question. Most injuries for such players are caused by impacts where players aggressively collide with each other. The repercussions could be twisted angles, dislocated joins or torn ligaments, etc. The best way to minimize such impacts is to wear proper protective measures such as shin guard.
Types of Sports Injuries
There is a broad range of sports injuries, but can be categorized into soft tissue and hard tissue. This categorization is dependent on the location. Soft tissue injuries, for example, result when you sustain injuries to your muscles, ligaments, blood vessels, tendons, and organs. On the other hand, hard tissues occur when you sustain injuries on external parts like your bones, knees, and the neck.
The typical soft tissue injuries include the muscle strains where you over-stretch your muscles when playing soccer, rugby or running, torn ligaments, ACL. These injuries are often classified as acute because they can happen suddenly or chronic injuries as some can happen for a long time. Hard tissue injuries examples include the dislocated joins, extracted teeth, broken legs, etc. In most cases, hard tissue injuries are severe and take a long time to cure completely depending on the method of treatment.
Common types of sports injuries include the following:
- Muscle strains – these happen when you strain your muscles or tendons beyond their natural limits. Tendons are the tissues that attach the muscles to bones.
- Sprains – these can affect the knees, ankles, and ligaments. The ligaments can be torn.
- Bone fracture – the bones can be fractured when you get involved into a severe impact. Cyclists are also vulnerable to bone fracture when they fall while cycling at high speeds.
- Joint dislocation – an impact in rugby or soccer can result with the dislocation of joints.
- Tendinitis – an injury to the tendons. It is often caused by an overuse of the tendons thus resulting in swelling, inflammation, and pain. It will be painful to even climb the staircase or traverse the uphill.
Which sports could easily create injuries?
Almost any sport that involves intensive strenuous exercises can create injuries. You name them: soccer, rugby, boxing, basketball, netball, etc. An impact is the common occurrence in sports and can result in many injuries. Even the hikers or backpackers can be vulnerable to sports injuries as they trek on uphill and downhill mountains.
Whether an occasional or an enthusiastic sportsman, you are bound to sustain injuries at any given time. It is important to take precautionary in avoiding such injuries. For every sport, there are proper techniques and proper protective measures to follow in order to minimize the possible injuries.
How to avoid injuries from sports?
Most of sports injuries are avoidable if athletes take certain precautionary measures. Even the worst sports injuries, as discussed subsequently, can be minimized when you exercise caution at all the times. For instance, athletes need to ensure that they use proper equipment and follow the right techniques among others. Even in sports predominated by intensive physical contact, wearing the right protective gear can significantly minimize the injuries. Warming up prior to participation is also an imperative sports injury prevention method. Let’s simply these prevention methods below:
- Warm-up – warming up your muscles about 15 minutes before you start with your start can add a significant value to them. You can walk or stretch the muscles to increase the blood flow. But do not over-stretch the muscles as that can exacerbate the pains. It is advisable to focus on muscle groups and alternate them daily when stretching before repetitive stretching may result in overuse injuries.
- Take breaks – exercising heavily without breaks is a recipe for chronic or acute injuries. If you are just starting with the exercises after a long mobility break, it’s important to take breaks. Do not overdo training more than your body muscles can endure. The best strategy is to take exercises gradually until the fitness improves. If you are in the dark regarding the number of tasks to take before you harm yourself, you can get hold of the fitness instructor.
- Proper equipment – Proper equipment is also pivotal to injury prevention measures. If you engage in boxing, cricket, motor sports or cycling, you need to ensure proper protection of your head. Helmets and head guards are popular equipment used to minimize injuries. In other sports, you may need shin guards, shin pads, and gum shields. The runners need the protective running shoes, probably with orthotics as well. The main idea is to protect the vulnerable body parts such as the groin, knees and the head, especially in contact sporting activities.
- Proper technique – repeatedly using an improper technique can lead to sports injuries. Tennis players, for instance, need to avoid racquets with narrow shafts. Instead, they should make use of the whole arm for forehand and backhand shots. If you are lost, you can consult with the fitness coach to help you maneuver the proper techniques so as to prevent injuries.
- Drink lots of water – one may find this subtle, but it has a huge effect on preventing sports injuries. Dehydrated athletes are underprivileged with mental and physical fitness. If sporting amid hot temperatures, you may need to consume more water. However, do not drink too much water as that can have adverse effects. Only 1.2 liters a day can be sufficient. Schedule that for every 20 or 30 minutes during your sporting activities.
- Rest – after undertaking your exercises, ensure that you cool down sufficiently to let the body remove the waste products that have accumulated during the exercise. Resting will lessen the stiffness in the muscles. Moreover, if, during the sporting activities, you feel too much fatigue, know when to stop and rest. That could be the sign that the body needs to rest. If you defy such signs you might expose the body to injuries.
- Run medical checkups before undertaking intensive exercises, especially if you took a long break before.
Top 5 Worst Sports Injuries
Now here are the top 5 worst sports injuries that can be life-threatening to athletes. Numerous players have already gone to retirement on account of the worst sports injuries. Some severe injuries can be treated successfully whereby the player can return to the field of play. Our worst injuries include the torn ACL, torn ulnar collateral ligament, concussion, broken leg and fractured vertebrae. Let’s unfold them:
Athletes such as Tiger Woods, Adrian Peterson, and Tom Brady are victims of the torn ACL (Anterior Cruciate Ligament) in their sporting careers. It can take from 8 to 12 months to recover fully from this worst sports injury. The pain can be excruciating. Basically, the ACL refers to the ligament that provides stability by holding the knee joints together.
If you land improperly or change directions abruptly, ACL tears can occur. The knee may feel numb and completely dysfunctional. One may witness swelling and pain at the affected knee and may not be able to walk. Torn ACL is not a mild injury that can fade away without surgical intervention to restore and strengthen the muscles. In reconstructing the torn ACL, the doctor may take a part of the ligament from your body to accomplish the surgical procedure. But the surgery is not that mandatory. Others opt for a physical therapy although not guaranteed to expedite the healing process like surgery does. Such a decision is dependent on the health status and age group.
Torn ACL injuries are prevalent in all sporting activities. Basketball and football are the leading sports that can expose you to ACL injuries more vigorously. One of the prominent players, Adrian Peterson, has sustained ACL injuries in 2011 which put him on the sideline for a long time. It was unbelievable that he could come back. After 10 months he was back on the field.
A concussion can be referred to as the injury to the brain. The injury occurs when the brain shifts swiftly within the skull after being hit directly on the head. The injury is traumatic and can lead to memory loss, nausea, headache, loss of consciousness, and sensitivity to light, dizziness, and many more side effects. Rugby and football players are at risk of suffering a concussion.
After it has occurred, the player has to be examined to see the extent of the injury to determine the level of treatment. A rest is the first thing needed to let the brain to recover. The injury need not be taken lightly because it can be exacerbated if the player decides to play while concussion has not fully recovered. The doctor should issue the clearance before the player can return to the field. Recovery time differs from one athlete to another depending on the extent of the injury.
Torn Ulnar Collateral Ligament
Recovery time from this injury takes between 12 and 18 months. The Ulnar Collateral Ligament stabilizes the forearm. The tissue can tear with repetitive stress on the forearm, especially in sports that require throwing the ball for long distances. These can be the volleyball and baseball. In treating the injury, the specialist can prescribe a physical therapy to strengthen the muscles. If it is severe, surgery may be needed, although in rare cases.
This is a hard tissue injury that can take a minimum of a year to recover from it. The three bones in the leg – the tibia bone, thighbone and the fibula bone, are all vulnerable to a breakage in sports. The doctor is needed to have an x-ray on the broken leg to see the extent of it. The player might have to put on the plaster cast for a period of at least 7 weeks. Once the cast is removed, the player still needs physical rehabilitation to fully recover.
Athletes such as Steve Austin and Kevin Everett have suffered from this worst injury. There might not be a recovery time, but a career-ending ordeal. It is a back injury which can impair your mobility and end with paralysis. The vertebra is usually broken below the spine. If you fall on your spine, you are more likely to suffer from this injury. The treatment includes prescribing antibiotics, strengthening exercises and wearing a back brace.
Notices after passing the sports injuries
After the recommended recovery time, the athlete has to get the clearance from the doctor as a green-light that she/he can play again. There must not be recurring symptoms. Forcing to play while symptoms still prevail can lead to a recurring injury which can be more severe. It will also delay the healing process of the first injury.
Sports injuries are a reality to all the athletes. There is a plethora of injuries and can affect players differently. In our discussion, we chose the top 5 worst injuries in sports. Not only have we mentioned them, but have also discussed the causes and the prevention tips.
Even though sports injuries are prevalent, they can be minimized. Follow the right methods, use the right equipment, warm-up, do not overuse your muscles, etc. Again, you may be pressured to return to sport prematurely. It is for your health benefit that you only return once you are symptom-free. If you have a minor injury, you can perform the RICE method, and if you have a severe injury, seek medical attention promptly.