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What Are the 7 Most Common Sports Injuries?

Exercise is critical for a healthy lifestyle but can lead to injury. That's true whether you take a regular evening walk, go to the gym three times a week, or play in the Superbowl.

When discussing sports injuries, you'll typically hear terms like acute and chronic. Acute means it happens suddenly, such as when you turn your ankle during your walk

Chronic injury develops over time, usually due to repetitive motion or overuse. A baseball pitcher with a rotator cuff tear likely has a chronic injury. Someone who plays tennis every weekend might have a painful tennis elbow.

The key to reducing your risk of injury is twofold. First, you must understand why sports injuries can happen sometimes. Second, know common injuries that occur. This article touches on both critical topics, pinpointing the seven most common sports injuries.

What Causes a Sports Injury?

That is difficult to answer because there is no single cause for sports injuries. There are some common risk factors, though, such as:

  • Overtraining, especially if you are new to exercise or not physically fit
  • Poor technique
  • Playing sports frequently
  • Wearing improper shoes or equipment
  • Jumping or running on a hard surface
  • Having a prior injury in the same location

Certain medications can make you more prone to injury, as well. For example, a category of antibiotics, fluoroquinolones, can put you at risk for tendinitis.

7 Most Common Sports Injuries

The human body's design makes certain injuries more likely than others. Here are seven common sports injuries.

1. Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) Tear

The knee takes the most abuse of all the joints in the body. The knee is the largest joint and one that is necessary for almost every form of exercise. A high percentage of sports injuries will involve the knee.

An anterior cruciate ligament tear is at the top of the list for potential knee injuries. This ligament sits under the kneecap, holding the tibia (shin) and femur (thigh) bones together. It prevents the tibia from sliding in front of the femur. It is also one of the primary ligaments that stabilize the knee.

ACL tears can occur when you take a hit on the side of your knee joint. It can also be the result of overextending your knees or stopping suddenly.

2. Lateral Epicondylitis (Tennis Elbow)

Don't let the name fool you. Tennis elbow is an injury you can get in various sports, including golf. This injury is the inflammation or micro-tearing of tendons that connect the forearm muscles to the elbow joint near the lateral epicondyle. This tiny bump sits on the outside of the elbow.

This sports injury is typically due to overuse. You repeatedly use the forearm muscles and elbow tendons in the same motion when playing tennis or golf. That leads to irritation and inflammation of the tissue.

3. Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome (Shin Splints)

You will likely recognize the term shin splints if you are a runner or a dancer. This is pain that occurs right at the edge of the shin bone. A sudden change in a workout or training intensity can cause it.

4. Hamstring Strain

The hamstring refers to three muscles in the back of the thigh. An injury to this connective tissue can range from a mild pull to a complete tear. Hamstring injuries often occur when you kick or fall forward hard on the leg.

5. Ankle Sprain

Ankles are joints that are almost constantly under stress. When the muscles that support the joint are weak, they can stretch or tear.

This is a widespread injury that can happen in many ways. For instance, you can awkwardly step down on your foot and roll your ankle. It can also happen if you trip or step into a hole.

6. Groin Pull

A groin pull refers to an injury to the muscles on the inner thigh. You often see this injury in sports that require a lot of side-to-side movement, such as football or soccer. Groin pulls can become chronic if not allowed to heal completely.

7. Shoulder Injury

The shoulder joint is capable of wide motion but is also somewhat unstable. Whether throwing a ball or pulling your body weight up while climbing, you put a lot of strain on these joints, which can lead to injury.

One of the most common shoulder injuries is a rotator cuff tear or impingement. The rotator cuff is a group of tendons and muscles that hold the joint together. Injuries to this area are often due to progressive wear. Repetitive activities like reaching your arm up to grab something or pitching a baseball can cause damage or tendonitis. Rotator cuff injuries can also result from a fall or accident.

Preventing Sports Injuries

You may not be able to go your whole life without ever having a sports injury. There are things you can do to reduce the risks, though.

  • Stretch often: Stretching helps keep at-risk muscles, ligaments, and tendons flexible.
  • Don't over-exercise: Start slow and build if you are new to working out or a sport. Don't go from no exercise to intense overnight. Take time to get stronger and learn proper techniques.
  • Use the right equipment: Starting with your shoes. If you are a walker or runner, buy shoes designed for that activity. If you are active in sports, wear the recommended padding and support gear.

If you do get an injury, give it time to heal. Otherwise, you risk injuring the same area again.

Treating Sports Injuries

Tips for injuries start with basic first-aid and RICE:

  • Rest
  • Ice
  • Compression
  • Elevation

See your doctor for injuries that seem more severe or don't improve in a few days. A doctor will provide a proper diagnosis and design a care plan that includes rest and rehabilitation.

Laser treatments are one possible option for sports injuries and back pain. Laser therapy is pain-free and can help heal common sports injuries.

Benefits of laser therapy include:

  • Pain management
  • Reduction of inflammation
  • Faster recovery time
  • Improved nerve regeneration

Aspen Laser has provided state-of-the-art laser equipment to the medical community since 2014. Find an Aspen Laser health professional near you and learn more about how this treatment can help heal sports injuries.

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