Identifying Common Sports Injuries

March 02, 2017

Sports injuries include a few common injuries that both professional athletes and everyday people come across. Although a person may take many precautions to avoid injury, it may still occur at one point or another. However, knowing what types of injuries there are and how and why they happen can help you avoid them.

The most common sports injuries include the ACL tear,ankle sprain, epicondylitis (tennis elbow/golf elbow),ankle sprain, groin pull, hamstring strain,hip flexor strain,patellofemoral pain syndrome, sciatica, shin splits, and shoulder injury.

Here, we’ll breakdown each injury, and inform you on what to do if you come across one.


ACL Tear

An anterior cruciate ligament tear or ACL tear is one of the most common knee injuries. The anterior ligament is one of four ligaments in the knee, and can tear when overstretched. Pain and swelling may occur depending on the severity of the tear. Athletes who play sports such as American football and basketball, where they’re likely to make sudden stops and get hit from the side, have a higher risk of tearing their ACL.

If you tear your ACL, you can try to reduce the swelling by resting, apply ice, and wrapping your knee. Anti-inflammatory drugs may be taken to reduce the pain. Most importantly, make sure to see the doctor. Surgery may be required to restore full function of the knee if the tear is severe.


Ankle Sprain

An ankle sprain is quite common among professional athletes and the average person. This injury occurs when the foot is turned inwards to the point of tearing the ligaments of the ankle.

If you sprain your ankle, apply ice, wrap your knee, and try to relieve as much pressure as you can from the ankle – and make sure to see the doctor.

Epicondylitis: Lateral and Medial Epicondylitis  

These injuries occur due to repetitive motions or overuse of the wrists and arms.
Lateral epicondylitis, commonly known as tennis elbow, refers to pain on the outer side of the elbow, which may also radiate along the forearm and wrist. 
Medial epicondylitis, commonly known as golfer’s elbow, refers to pain on the inner side of the elbow, which may also radiate along the forearm and wrist. 
Make sure to take a break from your sports activities while in the healing process. Rest and relieve pressure from the elbow, and apply ice and a wrap to help with healing. Surgery is an option if prior treatments are non-responsive.

Groin Pull

Moving from side-to-side, such as when playing football, can cause a groin pull, where the muscles in the groin area become strained with pain and inflammation.

If you think you may have a groin pull, make sure to rest and apply ice to the affected area. Wrapping the area will also help.

See the doctor if the pain becomes too intense. This may take up to 12 weeks to heal.

Hamstring Strain

The hamstring is a group of three muscles in the back of the thigh. They can become over-stretched when participating in sports such as hurdling.

Not stretching and warming-up can easily lead to a hamstring strain, which can take a very long time to heal – generally months. Resting, applying ice to the affected area, and taking anti-inflammatory drugs can help with the healing process.

Hip Flexor Strain

The hip flexor is made up of a group of muscles engaged with lifting the knee and bending over at the waist. A hip flexor strain can occur if too much stress is applied to hip flexor, such as when kicking or sprinting. Hip flexor strains are usually more likely to occur from not stretching and warming-up properly.

Applying ice and taking anti-inflammatory medications can help alleviate pain and swelling. See the doctor if the pain and swelling is still present after two weeks.

Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome (PFPS): also known as Runner’s Knee

This occurs from repeated movement and pressing of the kneecap against the femur (leg bone). This generally happens with sports that involve running and jumping. People with PFPS may require crutches.

It’s important to alleviate pressure from the knees and only do low-impact exercises when suffering from Patellofemoral syndrome. Anti-inflammatory medications may be taken, and a soft-brace may be worn to relieve pain and help with healing. Make sure to see the doctor for the right treatment.


This is a lower-back pain that runs down the legs due to irritation of the roots of the lumbar and lumbosacral spine. It can occur with sports such as running, cycling, tennis, and golf, and is usually caused by improper stretching.

Applying ice and taking anti-inflammatory medications can help alleviate pain. See the doctor if you experience sciatica. If severe, it can leave a person unable to move due to unbearable pain.

Shin Splits

The term for pain that occurs down the front of the legs is known as shin splits. It can occur from running, overpronation (the ankle rolls too far downwards and inwards with stepping), excessive stress placed on the legs, or inadequate stretching.

It’s important to wear proper athletic shoes, with insoles that properly support your feet to help avoid it. Most of the time, shin splits can be treated by applying ice and taking anti-inflammatory medications. See the doctor if the pain persists for too long, as it may be a stress fracture (a small crack in the bone).

Shoulder Injury

Shoulder injuries generally include sprains and dislocations, and most often occur with sports where overhead movement is required, such as weightlifting and basketball. Shoulder injuries are the most common injuries in sports medicine.

If you experience a shoulder injury, applying ice and taking anti-inflammatory drugs can help. Make sure to get plenty of rest, and see a doctor if the pain persists for too long.

Play Safe and Smart

Remember that every workout, practice, or game should start with a warm-up – anywhere from playing a round of golf to something more rigorous such as weight training. Getting warmed-up increases blood flow to the muscles and allows you to become more flexible – but most importantly, helps prevent injury.

If you experience excessive swelling, deformities in your joints or bones, changes in skin color (other than mild bruising), or have pain and discomfort that just won’t go away, make sure to see a doctor as soon as possible as it may be the sign of a serious injury.




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