Knee injury running on the beach

Understanding Sports Injuries

Naturally, when it comes to physical therapy, patients seek treatment for a very wide variety of issues. Physical therapy can help to heal or alleviate anything from  back pain to cardiovascular diseases. It’s one of the most effective (and natural) ways to treat the many aches and pains of the human body. Therefore, patients with sports injuries often seek physical therapy following a doctor’s recommendation.

Usually, sports injuries occur during moments of heightened activity – like exercise or, of course, participating in sports. In addition, while adults do get these injuries, children are generally at a higher risk. If you haven’t been active for some time, don’t stretch or warm up prior to exercise, or play any contact sport, you’re at risk for one of these injuries.

In this post, we’ll discuss the basics of sports injuries in order to provide you with a better understanding of what they are, differing treatments and some ways to prevent them.


6 Different Types of Sports Injuries

Obviously, since different sports require different movements and engage different muscle groups, their injuries vary based on whatever you’re playing. For example: if you’re playing tennis, the constant swinging motion may lead to lateral epicondylitis, or “tennis elbow.” This is the common term for the inflammation or tearing of the tendons that connect with the forearm muscles near the elbow. General overuse can damage these tendons and forearm muscles. Constantly repeating swing motions inflicts this damage and leads to pain and tenderness.

Sports injuries are categorized into several types, based on the area, symptoms and potential complications.

These are the most common types of sports injuries:

1. Sprains

These occur when we tear our ligaments, or stretch them too excessively. Ligaments are the tissues within joints that connect our bones together.

2. Strains

When we stretch too much or tear muscles/tendons, it results in strains. Our tendons are thick tissue cords that adjoin bones to muscles. Unsurprisingly, many patients often confuse strains with sprains, and vice versa.

3. Knee Injuries

When any injury restricts our knee joint’s movement, it’s usually a sports injury. Anything from muscle tears, to overexertion, to tissue damage can inflict a knee injury.

4. Achilles Tendon Rupture

Our Achilles tendons (at the back of our ankles) can break or rupture during sports/exercise. If it does, you’ll feel instant, severe pain and have trouble walking.

5. Dislocations

A common sports injury. During moments of exertion like cardio or strength training, a bone may be forced from its socket. Usually, they’re extremely painful, and there’s a considerable amount of swelling.

6. Rotator Cuff Injury

Our rotator cuffs consist of four pieces of muscle working in sync. It ensures our shoulders can move in all directions. Should we tear any of these muscles, it can impair the rotator cuff.


Sports Injury Treatment

Within the medical community, there’s a very popular acronym for sports injury treatment: R.I.C.E. This stands for:

  • Rest (remain off your feet as much as you can)
  • Ice (apply a cold ice pack to the area)
  • Compression (wrap in a tight bandage to reduce swelling) 
  • Elevation (keep the injury upright on pillows while icing) 

It should be noted that R.I.C.E. is generally the ideal solution for healing mild injuries from acute to chronic. For the best results, begin this within the first twenty-four hours after you receive the injury. Should you get an early start, it’ll greatly help to reduce any swelling and likely prevent any additional pain in the future.

Of course, there are both over-the-counter and prescription medications to treat pain. Also, everyday medications like ibuprofen or acetaminophen ease pain and bring down any swelling.

However, if your sports injury is unbearably painful, or seems severe, then you should definitely make an appointment to see a doctor. And if you experience any prominent bumps, popping/crunching sounds from the joint, inability to put any weight on it or instability, seek emergency attention. Additionally, if you feel any difficulty breathing, dizziness or fever following an injury, you should absolutely seek emergency treatment immediately.


Sports Injury Prevention

Want to know the most effective way to prevent sports injuries? Believe it or not, its actually shockingly simple: just warm up and stretch! That’s right, it’s that simple. When our muscles are cold, they’re prone to tears and strains.

However, once we warm them up nicely, they’re a lot more flexible. In addition, they’re much better at absorbing abrupt movements, jerks and bends. Altogether, this makes the risk of injury significantly smaller.

3 Tips for Injury Prevention

  1. Technique: Take care to learn the precise way you should be moving during your chosen game or exercise. Naturally, different forms of exercise demand varied stances and postures. For example, bending your knees at a particular moment can prevent injuries to your spine or hips in certain sports.
  2. The Right Gear/Footwear: If you’re doing anything that requires heightened activity, it’s imperative to use the right stuff. Obviously, going for a run is virtually impossible without a comfortable pair of sneakers. The same rule applies to any sport – don’t play without any of the right clothing, footwear or equipment. If you do, you may wind up with a sports injury.
  3. Don’t Overexert Yourself: Way too many people try to be heroic in the wake of a sports injury. Rather than taking the necessary time to rest and heal, they claim they’d rather “work through the pain.” This is nonsense. Give your body time to heal. And when you eventually return to your sport or workout, don’t dive back in headfirst right away. Ease yourself back in gradually, starting at a lower intensity and working your way up from there.


Conclusion – Lake Shore Physical Therapy

Ultimately, sports injuries (like any other injury) will benefit from careful and precise physical therapy treatment. There’s no sports injury that’s completely untreatable. And at Lake Shore Physical Therapy, our therapists will collaborate closely with you to provide you with a swift, safe and natural recovery.