5 Most Common Sports Injuries & How To Treat Them

All right, you have set your new fitness goals, and you are ready to jump right into your brand new intense workout regimen. Perhaps you've been admiring the bodies of Michael B. Jordan, Dwayne Johnson, Serena Williams, Jennifer Lopez or that doggone Naomi Campbell, and you decided hey, I can have a body like that! So now you plan to work out harder than you ever have before. Sounds great, but wait a minute! Before you do too much too fast, you should be aware of the 5 most common sports injuries.

According to the National Safety Council, personal exercise accounted for 526,350 sports injuries in 2017. This was followed by basketball injuries of over 500,085, then followed by cycling injuries. So as you do your sports routines, your workout regimens, it's very important to be in tune with your body and to be aware of if you have a sports injury or if you are at risk.


5 Most Common Sports Injuries


1. Pulled Groin or Groin Strain Injury

The groin muscles refer to those muscles in the inner thighs that attach the pelvis to the inner thighbone. They are responsible for pulling the legs in together. Groin injuries can occur in any workout regimen or physical activity involving rapid side-to-side movement, certainly in sports like football, baseball, and definitely, if you're doing an intense workout regimen, CrossFit training, and you can mess around and strain the groin if you're not properly stretched. The symptoms include a shooting pain in the groin. They can include bruising, swelling and difficulty walking.

The treatment for a pulled groin, RICE, rest, ice, compression, elevation. You'll want to rest the groin which is difficult especially for a lot of athletes, especially young people who don't want to rest for as long as they need to rest. You also need to ice the groin which consists of taking either an icepack or a bag of frozen vegetables like frozen peas and putting it on that area, but you wanna put a thin towel there so you don't damage your skin or freeze your skin. And you ice it for 15 minutes at a time every one to two hours for up to two days after the injury.

One way to prevent a groin strain or a pulled groin is to make sure that you stretch properly and that you work out and you stabilize those muscles around the groin. So common sports injury number one, groin strain.


Most Common Sports Injuries


2. Shin Splints

Shin splints also called medial tibial stress syndrome. Now athletes get shin splints when they change their workout routines, either when they change the intensity or the frequency or the type of exercise, which can certainly happen in someone who's jumping into a whole new workout regimen. If you have shin splints, you will have pain in the front of your shins, usually in the medial portion or toward the center down in the lower half of the shin, and that pain will be diffused. It'll be all over that shin area.

In order to treat the shin splints, again, RICE, rest, ice, compression, elevation. You definitely want to rest or to change the intensity of your exercise. You want to ice the area and give your body a chance to heal. When you have shin splints, what's actually happening is that you're having an inflammatory response in the connective tissue over the bone. You don't actually have a broken bone or fracture.


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Now if you don't rest those shin splints properly, then you can actually develop a stress fracture. And you'll know the difference, because instead of the pain being diffused, kind of all over that front center part of the shin, you actually have a pinpoint area of pain if you have a stress fracture. So again, pay attention to your body. Make sure you see your doctor if those shin splints aren't getting better, and you can also take anti-inflammatories especially if you do not have any kidney disease. Consult your physician.


3. Runner's Knee

Runner's knee or patellar femoral syndrome. Now, this is a very common sports injury, and if you have a runner's knee, then you'll feel pain especially in the upper part of your kneecap or behind your kneecap where your kneecap or patella meets the lower thigh bone or the femur. And you get runner's knee when you have excessive activity especially if you have a lot of running, jumping, twisting, and you can help to prevent a runner's knee if you really stabilize that knee; you stabilize the patella.

How do you do that? Making sure that you have strong muscles around the knee like in the thighs, and also strengthen muscles around the hip. When you have runner's knee, the pain can be exacerbated by squatting, running, or even sitting for prolonged periods of time. Again, to prevent runner's knee, you want to really make sure that you stabilize those muscles around the knee.




4. Rotator Cuff Injury

Now we hear the term rotator cuff all the time, but what exactly is a rotator cuff? Well, the rotator cuff refers to the four tendons which cuff the upper arm bone or the humerus. Now a tendon is a thick tough band of material that attaches muscles to bone, so when it comes to the rotator cuff you have these four tendons which are attached to four muscles which help to stabilize and to rotate the shoulder, the rotator cuff. You have the supraspinatus which is actually the most important of the rotator cuff and the most vulnerable to injury. This muscle is responsible for lifting that shoulder joint. And then you have the teres minor and the infraspinatus which are responsible for rotating the shoulder outward, and then you also have the subscapularis which is the muscle responsible for rotating the shoulder inward. So together these muscles and tendons help to rotate that shoulder joint. They are the rotator cuff.


Risks For Rotator Cuff Injuries

You are at risk for getting rotator cuff injuries when you have repetitive movement of that shoulder, movements that require frequent stretching of the arms upwards or pushing or lifting. So you can imagine that when you're doing a new sports routine and you have that intensity up, say you're doing excess weightlifting, then you can put that shoulder at risk. Certain athletes like baseball players who are throwing and using that shoulder a lot are at risk for rotator cuff injuries. Also in other sports like basketball, hockey, anything where you're using that shoulder joint frequently and intensely can cause a rotator cuff injury. Now if you just damage the tendon or cause some bruising or some swelling, then it's called tendinitis or tendinopathy. And oftentimes RICE, that rest, ice, compression, elevation along with taking anti-inflammatories can be enough.




Rotator Cuff Diagnosis

But if you have a tear in the rotator cuff, that could be a little more serious. Now in order to diagnose a tear, you will need to see a physician like a sports medicine doctor, and an MRI can reveal if you've had a tear in the rotator cuff. If it's just a small tear or a moderate-sized tear, then you may still be able to be treated with conservative management like the rest, the ice, and or the anti-inflammatories, but if it's a large tear or it's causing severe pain, then you may actually need surgery to correct the rotator cuff tear.  The symptoms of rotator cuff injury are going to be pain in the tip of the shoulder or in the upper outer shoulder.

5. Ankle Sprain Injury

Oh, you know what an ankle sprain is! An ankle sprain occurs when the ankle joint is twisted or turned too far in one direction or the other causing a stretching or even a tearing of the ligaments.

So what's a ligament? A ligament is a broad band of tough tissue that connects bone to bone. Now, this is different from the tendon I talked about in the rotator cuff, because tendons attach bone to muscle. So in an ankle sprain, you have again a stretching or tearing of the ligaments which attach the bone to bone. When this occurs, you will get pain in the ankle area. You can also get swelling, and again that treatment is RICE, rest, ice, compression and elevation.

Ankle sprains can happen in just about any sport, anything requiring quick changes in motion and agility where you can roll that ankle or stretch those ligaments. Some of the things you can do to help to prevent ankle sprains, stabilizing the muscles again surrounding the ankles, doing proper stretching, making sure you have good supportive strength, wearing proper shoes, proper ankle support depending on the sport that you're doing.

But again, if you're going to be working out and playing sports, you must be aware of these potential injuries. Bottom line is that if you're going to be working out or playing sports, then certainly sports injuries are something that can happen, but prevention is key. Make sure that you consult your physician before starting an intense workout routine, and if you're able to, consult a physical trainer, someone who knows the body and who's able to guide you on just how far you should be pushed. A lot of times we set unrealistic goals for ourselves, too fast, feeling pressure to look exactly like Hollywood stars with perfect bodies. Don't do that! Just make sure you set goals that are realistic for you and that you pay attention to your body.



Love your body, and do what you need to do to prevent sports injuries. If you can't prevent them, which sometimes you can't, at least if you remember these 5 most common sports injuries so that you will be aware of what the injuries are when and if they occur, and you'll know how to best manage them.

I want you to do one more thing to make sure you are living a healthy, happy life. I want you to download the free PDF, "10 Healthy Habits for a Better You and a Better Life". This is a checklist of healthy habits for you to live your best life. I use it myself daily. It helps me; I hope it will help you.

Dr. Frita - Frita McRae Fisher, M.D.
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  1. Taylor Hansen on July 20, 2020 at 2:31 pm

    It’s interesting that a rotator cuff injury can be treated with ice and compression if it’s a small injury. My son injured his rotator cuff and now can’t pitch for his school. I’ll be sure to help him find a good doctor that can help treat his rotator cuff.

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