The most common sports injuries and how to prevent them

By Lauren Zedlar

Elm Staff Writer

According to Guardian Dialect Life Insurance Company of America, “every year 8.6 million Americans sustain a sports- or recreation-related injury.” 

According to The Orthopaedic Institute of Southern Illinois and Western Kentucky, one of the most common injuries is a pulled muscle. The most common muscles that are pulled are hamstrings and groins.

This occurs when a particular muscle is suddenly stretched farther than it’s capable. This can be done while doing a sudden movement, like sprints or jumping, without proper stretching beforehand.

According to Guardian Dialect, “the best way to prevent a pulled muscle is to take time to warm up before playing any sport.” They recommend stretching before any physical activity to prepare muscles. 

Another common sports injury, according to The Orthopaedic Institute, is a sprained ankle. This injury can range from minor to severe, meaning athletes could miss one practice to an entire season due to the seriousness of it. 

According to Guardian Dialect, this occurs when weak ligaments are strained surrounding ankles. This can happen when the foot rolls inward during physical activity. 

To prevent a sprained ankle, Guardian Dialect recommends being careful when running on hard or uneven surfaces. For athletes, making sure shoes are properly sized and the correct type for whatever exercise is being done. Guardian Dialect also recommends wearing ankle braces or taping ankles for more support. 

According to The Orthopaedic Institute, knee injuries are also a very common sports injury. They can vary from slight strains or full knee tears, once again meaning that this injury could remove a player from their sport indefinitely. 

According to Jayne Leonard, certified counselor and psychotherapist, Patellofemoral syndrome, commonly known as “runner’s knee,” is “the most common knee pain of the population,” which includes athletes and non-athletes.

Guardian Dialect recommends cutting back on running as soon as you feel pain below your kneecap. 

A more serious knee injury is an anterior cruciate ligament tear. This injury most likely will require surgery and months on crutches. 

According to Guardian Dialect, “your ACL is a ligament that plays an important role in stabilizing your knee, and sometimes it can be damaged by sharply pivoting or changing directions while running.”

Guardian Dialect and Leonard recommend wearing supportive shoes and insoles, focusing on strengthening muscles around the knee to protect the ligaments, and resting when feeling pain. 

According to The United Kingdom’s National Health Service, “mild sprains and strains can often be initially treated at home using PRICE therapy for two to three days.” Each letter within the word ‘price’ stands for a treatment method that should be followed. 

P for protection, which means that athletes should stop using the injured body part or use some sort of support to help it, like crutches or a brace.

R is for resting; a rest period for minor injuries is around one to three days of no physical activity or until whenever any swelling goes down.

 I is for icing the area. According to the NHS, “icing for 15-20 minutes every two to three hours” is beneficial. 

C stands for compression, which requires athletes to wrap injured body parts to also decrease swelling. 

E is for elevation, which is one of the most important parts of PRICE. The NHS recommends keeping “injured body parts raised above the level of your heart whenever possible” because this reduces swelling and allows blood to continue to flow to the injured area. 

The NHS recommends not returning to previous activity until fully recovered to prevent further injury. They also recommend light exercises, like stretching or walking to improve the area’s range of movement. 

As movement becomes easier and the pain decreases, physical activity can increase, but it is important to remember to go at your body’s own pace of recovery for the best healing process.

Photo by Marah Vain Callahan.

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