September is an exciting time of year for many, signifying not only the start of fall and back-to-school, but also the start of fall sports such as football and soccer season. As you gear up to hit the field, you must take every precaution to avoid a sports-related injury. While you may not be able to completely eliminate the risk of injury, especially in high contact sports, you may help prevent them from occurring by understanding their causes.
Sometimes referred to as a pulled muscle, strains occur when the muscle or tissue that connects your muscle to the bone tears.
How they occur- Strains occur as a result of overuse or improper use of a muscle. They can come on suddenly or gradually over time and can be offset if you overstrain the muscles or by heavy lifting. They can happen anywhere but are more common in your lower back, hamstring, and shoulder, putting people who participate in sports such as soccer, football, wrestling, and hockey at a greater risk. You’re also putting yourself at a higher risk if you’re not warming up before your workout or are fatigued.
Sprains occur when your ligament becomes torn or stretched. The majority of sprains occur in your ankle or knees, but they can occur anywhere.
How they occur – Falling or twisting can pop a joint out of place. If you have swelling, pain, or are unable to move your joint then you most likely have a sprain. If you’re unable to bear the weight on the leg of your injury, you may have completely torn your ligament and should seek medical attention.
Often times, sprains and strains don’t require medical attention as they are typically minor injuries. They are also the most common types of injuries that athletes face.
Fractures – A fracture is a broken bone. Depending on the severity of your injury, it can be anywhere from a small crack to a complete break. There are several different types of fractures and the majority of them occur because of stress or a high force impact.
How they occur – While bones are very strong and can withstand a lot of weight, too much force will cause a fracture.
Tears – The most common tear is in the anterior cruciate ligament, or ACL. Located in the knee, it is one of four major ligaments that holds the knee together and connects the upper leg bone with the lower leg bone. Up to 3,000,000 cases are reported each year. They’re most often seen in football, soccer, and basketball players.
How they occur – Tears occur when the muscle is stretched too quickly. If you do not warm up properly before your exercise, you’re putting yourself at a higher risk; a muscle that has been warmed up is much less likely to tear than those that aren’t.
Achilles Tendonitis – Achilles tendonitis occurs when the Achilles tendon, which connects your calf muscle to the back of your leg, becomes inflamed. It is very common with runners, as well as those that participate in the following sports: football, baseball, softball, basketball, dancing and tennis.
How they occur – This type of injury occasionally results from overuse of the tendon due to high impact exercise. It can also occur from not warming up properly prior to exercise and by wearing the improper footwear. If you are feeling pain in your Achilles tendon, do not ignore it. Rest and cut back on your training and its intensity to prevent further injury.
Runners Knee – Common with runners, this type of injury occurs when the kneecap, or patella, is irritated by the stress of running. Often times, those affected do not feel the pain during their workout but rather after. The pain is usually above, below, or at the kneecap and worsens when you’re running uphill or downhill.
How they occur – When you add or intensify your workout, you’re adding stress to your kneecap which can cause this type of injury. Your medical professional may use a combination of modalities such as physical therapy, stretching, strengthening and taping to get you back on your feet.