A Growing Concern: Avoiding Sports Injuries

Each year more and more people engage in sports and recreational activities in order to achieve a healthier lifestyle. Unfortunately, as the number of people biking, hiking, and playing sports increases, so do the injuries.

According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, in 2016, more than eight million people had a sports related injury. Since more men play contact sports, twice as many men as women had sports related injuries.

Another concerning statistic: children between the ages of five and 14 account for nearly 40% of all sports related injuries.

It’s time to learn how to keep yourself, and those you care about, safe in the sports arena.

These are the most common sport injuries that we see on a day-to-day basis at Back in Motion Physical Therapy & Performance.

The 9 Most Common Sports Injuries

Strains, sprains, pulled hamstrings, concussions, knees (ACL, and patella femoral), head injuries, bone fractures, bruises, and spinal cord injuries are the most usual sport injuries the medical professionals see on a daily basis.

As one might suspect, the sports causing the most injuries in high school athletes are football and basketball…with basketball, surprisingly, showing more injuries than football.

Common Types of injuries

Jumper’s knee: This is caused by inflammation or injury to the tissue connecting the kneecap and thigh muscles. It’s usually the result of overuse or repetitive movements.

People who engage in activities or sports involving lots of jumping, such as volleyball and basketball, are most prone to knee injury. Jumper’s knee is characterized by severe knee pain, stiffness or weakness in the affected area, especially when jumping or climbing stairs.

Little league elbow: Linked to the overuse of joints, tissues or muscles, it affects the growth plate of the elbow and is common among baseball players.

Runner’s knee: Another repetitive motion injury, runner’s knee is common in people who run, walk, or bike a lot. Any activity requiring repetitive knee bending puts a person at risk for runner’s knee.

People with Runner’s knee feel pain in the kneecap while bending. They may also feel a grinding sensation and swelling. Another common injury most runners may experience is IT Band Syndrome. This is irritation to the outside part of the thigh.

Sprains: Usually caused by a fall or twist, sprains occur where there is a stretch or ligament tear near the joint. Symptoms include pain and swelling at the affected areas.

Strains: This is a muscular injury which occurs when there is a stretch of the muscle tissue mostly through overextension. Symptoms include sudden pain which is followed by limitation of the movement of the affected areas; in some cases, bruises and swelling may be seen. Many athletes will usually strain their hamstring, groin, or calf muscles.

Tennis elbow: A painful condition which comes as a result of overuse of the elbow. Tennis and golf players are more prone to this injury because of the repetitive motions of the elbow. One feels the pain at the outside part of the elbow. Pain is caused by inflammation. Weakness occurs when trying to grip an object.

The 6 Major Causes of Sports Injuries Overtraining

Although training is an important component of any athlete’s success, it is essential that an athlete not overtrain. Why? Because overtraining puts excessive pressure on the body. So while training is important for enhanced performance, over training reduces performance.
The two most common causes of overtraining are:1. increased intensity and 2. failure to give oneself enough time to recover.

Fatigue, loss of concentration, problems sleeping, disruption in normal rhythm and an increase in resting heart rate are all signs of overtraining.

Overtraining decrease performance, strength and endurance. It may also increase irritability and emotional distress.
To prevent overtraining by reduce the intensity and duration of training sessions. Gradually reducing training gives the body time to cope with training changes.

You can avoid overtraining by increasing the range of activities to condition the whole body. Conditioning the entire body, reduces the risk of overuse.

Resting is also a good method for healing injuries caused by overtraining. Resting helps your body prepare for the next session of activities. Plus resting keeps you mentality alert and ready to move. Therefore, getting adequate sleep and limiting your training sessions will help you from over training.


As you’ve seen in the “types of injuries” section, one major cause of sports injury is the repetitive action using only some parts of the body. Unfortunately, overuse injuries worsen over time. You may recognize them as golfer’s knee, thrower’s shoulder, and tennis elbow. The symptom experienced is gradual pain, which intensifies both during and after the activity. Swelling and bruising of the affected areas may also occur.

A person can ease symptoms through the use of pain relieving medications, resting, and the application of ice to the affected area. In some cases, persistence of symptoms may require the athlete to undergo surgery to speed recovery. But be aware…surgery may also increase the possibility of suffering similar injury in the future.

To prevent overuse, allow adequate rest periods between training sessions. Resting gives the body time to adjust and prepare for the next bout of activity.

Poor Preparations and/or Lack of Warm Up

Poor preparation for exercising or training puts athletes at risk of an injury.

Muscles and joints are stressed when not prepared. Unprepared muscles increases the risks of sprains, strains and tears of muscles and ligaments. A warm-up exercise helps us to increase temperature as well as the blood circulation in the needed areas.

Ideally, have fifteen to twenty minutes of warm-up before starting training or exercises. Preparing to exercise should include a combination of activities, such as stretches and cardio exercises. A few minutes of jogging, followed by stretching or lifting some light weights helps warm the muscles. An effective preparation readies us, helping to increase performance levels…and also to prevents injuries.

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Failure To Cool Down

A warm-up session prepares us for training, while a cooling down helps us recover after an exercise or training session. It slows the heart rate and reduces the adrenaline level in the blood stream. Cooling down helps prevent lactic acid from building up. A proper cool down will keep your muscles from stiffening.

To cool down, include light cardio activities and a number of stretches. These should last two to fifteen minutes to ensure all muscles have been stretched.

Be careful of Poor techniques

Several sports injuries are linked to poor techniques. One poor technique we’ve discussed is focusing on a limited number of muscles and activities to the exclusion of others. Injuries resulting from poor techniques, worsen over time, and could lead to more serious problems.

Another poor technique that can result acute injuries is the misuse of exercise machines in the gym. Their misuse can overstretch a muscle. An overstretched muscle is one headed for injury.

The end result of poor technique is the reduction of power and speed, resulting in poor performance.

To prevent injury from poor technique, it is wise to undergo lessons, or arrange for some training before taking up an exercise or a sport. This might mean hiring a qualified instructor or a professional trainer or coach. Working with a professional before starting a program ensures learning the right moves and correct techniques. The result? Fewer injuries and better performance.

To further prevent injury, check the equipment for safety. Wear the correct clothes and shoes during exercises. Both of these actions will help keep you injury-free.

Impact On Contact

Athletes endure injuries caused by impact with surfaces, objects or other players. In football, rugby, motor racing, skiing, boxing, or running, players are likely to suffer injuries when they lose balance or accidentally twist or change direction. Impact might even lead to breaking, displacement or dislocation of joints, and rarely, but occasionally, even death.

The common injuries caused by contact are bruises, cuts, tears, head injuries, dislocation, or muscle pain. Impact injuries include ligament or tenon damages, spinal injuries, fractures or head injuries. Treatment for impact injuries depends on the extent and nature the injury. Head or spinal injuries are treated as emergencies while damages to connective tissues may only need pain management. With time, they will heal themselves. Rest and ice may also be needed alleviate the pain, and promote recovery of the injured parts. In serious cases, surgery may be recommended.

Treating the Injury

Minor sports injuries can be managed easily through resting, and application of ice to the affected area. This is commonly known as the RICE Method: rest, ice, compression and elevation.

While rest and ice are self-explanatory, compression simply means applying pressure to the affected area. By elevating the injured area, it allows proper blood circulation.

For more chronic injuries that seem to linger, you’ll want to see a sport physical therapist. A sport physical therapist will address the cause of your injury rather than just your symptoms and detect why your injury occurred in the first place. A sport physio can also help you recover from a serious injury or if you’ve had surgery.

Serious injuries, where there is extreme bruising, swelling or deformities, should be treated by a doctor. Some tests may be needed, including X-rays, MRIs or CT scans.

Spinal and head injuries are emergencies and should be treated immediately by a professional health provider.

Tips for Prevention

If you’re an “out of practice” adult, be sure to work into any training slowly— preferably with a professional adviser.

If your child is a youth athlete, be sure they’re bodies are getting enough rest, eating well, warming up, and playing multiple sports throughout the year. This will help diversify the stresses the athlete is exposed to and result in less injury.

Learning the right techniques for your sport or the gym session will pay dividends in a better body plus better performance.

Before you start on a training session, take the time to warm up—your body will thank you for it.

Once you’ve finished your session, cool down with easy stretching and movement.

We’re all in a hurry today, often running from one event to another. It’s easy to tell ourselves we don’t have the time to warm up or cool down before we work out. That’s a big mistake. If we want to live easily in our bodies, we need to take care of them so they can take care of us.


A step – by – step guide to overcoming 7 of the most common injuries suffered by Athletes and Weekend Warriors


About the Author: Dr. Scot Gray

Dr. Scott Gray is an internationally recognized and expert physical therapist specializing in sport, athletic, and back and neck injuries. He is the inventor of a revolutionary form of treatment called the GRAY METHOD. This type of treatment unlike others, addresses the CAUSE rather than just your SYMPTOMS with a full body approach. For more information on how to ease or overcome your injury, go to

About the Author: Harminder

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