How to prevent the most common sports injuries
Sports help us connect and get moving. But they also come with risks. Learn how to prevent sports injuries from occurring and when to seek medical help if they do.
Playing sports is a healthy move. But even this great habit can lead to injuries. According to a Statistics Canada study, nearly 50% of active people’s injuries involved sports. A proper warm-up and a better understanding of the body can help to prevent injuries. Consulting the right professional at the right time really matters.
6 common types of sports injuries
Blisters, sore muscles and muscle cramps generally go away on their own after a few days of rest. But don’t take all sports injuries lightly. How do you treat them? Why do they happen? Here’s an overview of some of the most common types.
Strains, pulled muscles and tears usually affect the lower body. They’re often the result of poor preparation. They happen when you stretch a muscle beyond its capacity during a movement that requires strength. This can result in the complete or partial tear of the muscle fibres.
According to Statistics Canada, sprains account for more than 50% of sports injuries. Frequently they affect the knees and ankles, which may require rehabilitation. A sprain happens from stretching or tearing in one or more ligaments that connect bones together.
Fractures involve a complete or partial break in the bone tissue. They are painful and generally result from accidental trauma. This type of injury warrants an emergency medical consultation.
A number of factors can cause low back pain, including disc damage or muscle damage. It is frequent among people who play ice sports or participate in activities that put pressure on the spine.
A dislocation happens when trauma forces a bone out of its normal position in a joint. Dislocations often affect shoulders, elbows and knees. Usually, it involves some form of trauma such as a bad fall or moving the body in an unusual way.
Tendinitis happens when a tendon is swollen. It can be acute, meaning short-term, or chronic, meaning long-term. When you repeat movements, it can cause tendinitis. It’s a good idea to slow down when you start noticing pain.
When to seek medical attention
Some sports injuries will heal on their own within a few days. But physiotherapist Annie Toupin says to see a health-care professional if the pain continues. Even when you’re resting your injured limb.
“If you have performed the basic R.I.C.E. (rest, ice, compression, elevation) protocol and you still have pain after two or three days, it’s best to consult a medical professional,” she says. The same goes for swelling or bruising that doesn’t go away on its own.
“If there’s any doubt, see a physiotherapist or a doctor. They’ll direct you to the proper specialist if necessary,” Toupin adds.
Preventing sports injuries
If your tendinitis acts up every time you go back to playing tennis after a few weeks off, Toupin says to see a physiotherapist. Treatment can help you prevent future bouts of this sports-related injury.
“I tell people to go gradually to give their body time to adapt. But everyone is different,” Toupin says. A physiotherapist will be able to teach you stretching exercises specific to your sport.
“We also work with our patients on the quality of movements,” she explains. Just by improving your flexibility with massage and specific stretching exercises, you can help reduce your risk of muscle injuries.
Getting back into the game after an injury
Looking to return to your fitness routine after a knee sprain? Want to jog your way back into shape? Making an appointment with a physiotherapist could be an important step toward reaching your goal. “People often tend to train way too hard at the beginning, which can result in injuries,” Toupin says. By assessing your physical condition, the physiotherapist can develop a training plan that meets your needs. And tell you how to warm up to prevent injuries in the first place. Knowing and respecting your body’s limits will help you stay active and healthy.
By Marie-Josée Roy