6 Most Commons Sports Injuries

This is Dr. James Porco, Physical Therapist, Strength and Conditioning Specialist, and Athletic Performance Specialist here at Back In Motion Physical Therapy & Performance in Fort Meyers, Florida.


I'm coming to you today to discuss some of the most common sports injuries that we tend to see in clinical practice. Why and how they occur. What populations they normally occur in, if these common injuries can be possibly prevented, and what you might expect to see in a treatment plan revealing exactly what separates Back in Motion and how we can get you back on the field or back to your recreational or competitive sports as quickly and as efficiently as possible.


#1 Ankle Sprain


All right, so, the first common sports injury that we tend to see in our practice is the ankle sprain. So, a lot of people have heard of ankle sprains and a lot of people have had ankle sprains themselves.


What an ankle sprain actually is is a ligament injury, so it's not usually a muscle. The muscle can be injured in this, however, most of the time, with an ankle sprain, your actual primary injury is located on the ligament that holds the bones and the joints together, allowing them to not separate and keeping them stable.


There are different types of ankle sprains. There's either a high or a low ankle sprain, and all that means is just depending on the ligament that you did sprain, they do have different timelines, but they're relatively similar mechanisms, but not exactly the same.


Traditionally, it's a rolling of the ankle. For example, like a change of direction style sport, a sport where you have to cut, or change direction really fast.


Oftentimes, you'll also see it in non-athletes, when people either step in a ditch or step down a hill that they didn't see or they step with like a funky foot position, and they might roll their ankle.


So, the interesting big point to take away from ankle sprains is, usually after having one or two of these ankle sprains, you can end up leading to chronic instability and the recurring ankle sprains increase with each additional ankle sprain that you have.


So, this is one of those injuries that you want to make sure you treat and you get appropriate treatment for because you don't want this to become chronic and ongoing, like a cyclical kind of thing.


Usually, again, as I said, they happen in a lot of change of direction sports when you're trying to plant the foot and change direction to cut, but they can also happen from stepping improperly or stepping in a ditch of something like that.


Prevention & Treatment


In terms of prevention, what you want to definitely do is make sure you have enough ankle strength, and proprioception, which means understanding where your body and your feet are in space while you're doing athletic activities.


The reason you want to have enough ankle strength is that since this is a ligament injury, the supporting muscles can actually help reduce the amount of force placed on the ligaments and if the muscles take on some of that extra force, the ligament has more opportunity to do its job without getting overstretched or potentially torn.


Ankle strengthening exercises are a primary mode of prevention and a longer-term treatment plan. You also want to make sure you have appropriate ankle mobility in the right direction.


Poor ankle mobility forces you to step in funky positions and, if you have to step in a weird position, you might be more prone to rolling your ankle.


We at Back in Motion look up and down the chain to make sure the knees and the hips are moving well, as well, which may also help you prevent or reduce the risk of an ankle sprain.


#2 Groin or Hip Flexor Strain


The second common sports injury that we see is either a groin or a hip flexor strain. I lump these together because people tend to have pain in a very similar spot, whether it's the groin or the hip flexor.


It's a pain in the groin either to what they call the adductor muscles, which are the groin muscles or the hip flexor muscle.


These muscles tend to get overworked or overloaded with repetitive use like running and sprinting. You can also injure your groin in a change of direction sport, commonly in sports where there's like an over stride or a wide base of support, so like in hockey.


Commonly, we see these injuries, again, either overuse repetitive motion or muscle length imbalances to the groin or the hip flexor.


These muscles tend to be a little bit tighter on most individuals and not quite strong enough to handle what they're being asked to do.


Prevention & Treatment


In terms of prevention, some of the things that we can do to help prevent these injuries are to make sure you do a proper dynamic warmup.


People tend to not get enough blood flow and mobility to these areas prior to participating in their activities or sports, so a good hip flexor and groin warmup can help prevent some of these injuries.


Treating these injuries in the longterm, you want to make sure you put enough strength and length on both the hip flexor and adductor muscle groups.


We tend to do a lot of strengthening, especially eccentric strengthening, which kind of allows the muscle to handle being stretched with the extra load.


Groin and hip flexor strains are something that, depending on the severity, can get better in six to eight weeks of correct treatment.


#3 Hamstring Strains


Hamstring strains are our third common injury and very similar to the like groin and the hip flexor strain, however, in a different location.


Commonly seen in a sprinting injury, hamstring strains can happen either distally, proximally, or at the muscle belly. What that means is where they either attach, down towards the knee or where they start, up towards the buttocks region or somewhere in the middle, which we call the muscle belly.


They commonly happen in sprinting with people who overstride or they don't have the appropriate muscle length to the hamstring, or a tight hamstring.


Prevention & Treatment


The best prevention strategies for this are making sure that you're getting enough length and strength to your hamstring muscles by doing an adequate warmup that allows increased blood circulation to the area, increased tissue mobility, and increased elasticity of the hamstring muscle to allow for you to perform your sport.


Treatment for this is to begin mobilization as early as possible, get that hamstring moving, and then as the week's progress and the hamstring starts to get back to general normal strength, increasing the length of the muscle while also making it stronger, again with that eccentric strengthening to allow for appropriate muscle strength while you're sprinting.


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#4 ACL Tear


Our fourth most common sports injury is the dreaded ACL tear. It's a knee injury. You always hear of ACL tears especially if you watch football, soccer, or basketball.


The reason ACL tears are common in those sports is that it's a change of direction injury and it's a non-contact injury.


They usually don't happen by people getting hit. It actually happens usually when someone's planting from either a jump or a lunge or, and then trying to change their direction quickly.


It's more common in females versus males for a couple of different reasons, but what happens is the ACL is a ligament within the knee that stops the shinbone from sliding forward on the thighbone, the tibia versus the femur.


There's a couple of different reasons and ideas on why ACL tears happen.


One is improper biomechanics. This thing called knee valgus, where the knee caves in, tends to make you more susceptible to tearing that ligament as well as things such as a wider hip angle, weakness of the hamstrings, or being too strong in the quadriceps muscles.


Prevention & Treatment


The treatment plan for an ACL tear, if you are planning on being quadriceps again, ACL tears do require surgery.


There are different types of graft options, such as patellar grafts, patellar tendon grafts versus hamstring grafts.


The pros and cons of those can be discussed with either your physical therapist or your orthopedic surgeon. The treatment plan for this is to return to the sport in about 12 months.


Anything before 12 months does show an increased risk of reinjury to that ACL, but in terms of prevention and treatment, very similar things.


We're working on the biomechanics of preventing that knee valgus, so strengthening of the hip musculature, the hamstring musculature and, um, making sure that we're allowing the athlete to move in an appropriate and appreciate manner so that they don't put themselves in positions that make them more susceptible to an ACL tear.


#5 Knee Injury


The next common knee injury that we see is a patellofemoral syndrome, which is really just pain in the kneecap.


It's a repetitive movement injury, so quite honestly, it's usually overuse that you tend to see this.


Activity such as running, dancing, and basketball where you're doing a lot of pounding on the knee with jumping and leaps and landing and constant motion.


It's an overuse injury with improper biomechanics, which means that the kneecap isn't gliding the way it should be.


When the kneecap isn't gliding the way it should be or sitting in the right groove of the knee joint, we tend to get pain along the anterior portion of the knee.


We can see this in people with either overactive or underactive quadriceps musculature, or again, a lack of biomechanics.




Both with the ACL and the patellofemoral syndrome, we tend to look the how the ankle is moving and how the hip is moving, as well, because these two joints surround the knee joint and, if the ankle and hip aren't moving well, that makes the knee work a little bit harder, which could put increased pressure on the knee, creating some of that patellofemoral syndrome, that anterior knee pain.


In terms of treatment, it really depends on what the cause of the anterior knee pain is, like I said, if it's an overactive quadriceps, we'd be working on things such as hamstring strength and increasing the tissue length of the quadriceps.


If it's an under active quadriceps or frontal thigh muscle strength, we would work on quadriceps strengthening and maybe some hamstring lengthening. It depends on what the cause is and that's what we would be treating.


#6 Tennis & Golfer's Elbow


The final common injury that I will discuss today is tennis elbow. Tennis elbow or golfer's elbow, just depending on if you're talking about the lateral or medial elbow, outside versus inside.


They both are differentiated as one is on the outside of the elbow and the other is on the inside of the elbow.


Both of these are overuse injuries. They tend to happen in tennis and golf, in activities where you're using the hands a lot more.


These issues are usually a load versus capacity issue, which means that the tendons don't have the capacity to support the amount of force or load that you're asking it to do, so your tendon might not be able to handle the amount of activity that you're performing.


Treatment & Prevention


Tennis elbow and golfer's elbow can be either chronic or acute, acute meaning it just happened and it's recently inflamed or chronic, meaning this has been a long-term issue.


Chronic tennis and golfers elbows take a little longer to treat.


That's why if you do have an acute flareup, it's important to come to see a physical therapist and get you on the proper healing path.


Things that we would work on for this are strengthening of the elbow and wrist musculature, the ones that kind of support those that the tendon that is being inflamed and aggravated.


We would be working on a range of motion of the elbow, shoulder, and wrist to make sure that you're getting the proper swinging mechanics and then making sure that we're doing the appropriate activities.


Load management to make sure that you're not overusing that structure while you're recovering. In chronic cases, we tend to want to restart the inflammation process by doing things such as dry needling, active release techniques, and stretching of the tissue to allow for increase blood flow and start the healing process over.


These injuries can usually take somewhere between six to eight weeks to clear up, as well.


Suffering From A Sports Injury And Ready To Get Back In Motion?


Hopefully, you learned a little about some of the common sports injuries that we see, what sports they occur in, how and why they occur, and different strategies in prevention and treatment.


If you’d like to discuss your personalized treatment plan and get answers to questions about cost, possible insurance coverage, time frames, and more, we urge you to get in contact with us today by speaking to one of our sports medicine experts.


Call our office at and schedule your appointment today!


We offer Physical Therapy in Fort Myers, FL, and Physical Therapy in Cape Coral, FL.


Let’s talk about your unique athletic injury situation, your goals, and your obstacles.


Together we can chart a course for your active and healthy future doing the things you love to do to get back to athletics or your active lifestyle safely!


Sounds reasonable?


We look forward to hearing from you!



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