Playing sports provides many benefits for both the mind and the body. Regular participation is an awesome way to strengthen your bones and muscles, helping you stay fit and healthy while having fun at the same. From a social standpoint, playing sports allows you to meet and build bonds with people with similar interests. Plus, playing sports helps improve your mood and reduce anxiety, among others.
As with performing any physical activity, it is not uncommon to hear of people getting injured while playing sports. Nobody wants to get injured but it happens. Here are some of the common sports injuries that specialists see. Also included are a few first aid tips, and how to reduce your chances of getting injured while working out or playing sports.
1. Sprains and strains
Ligaments connect your bones to your joints. A sprain occurs when these ligaments tear or are stretched too much. On the other hand, strains occur when the tendons are pulled or torn. Tendons are the tissues that bond your muscles to your bones.
Typical symptoms for both types of injuries include pain, swelling, and difficulty moving the affected body part. In the case of a strain, you may also experience muscle spasms on top of the symptoms previously mentioned.
How to treat the injury
There are several ways to treat a sprain or strain, depending on the severity of the injury. Here are a few things you can do when sprain or strain occurs:
- For minor pains and urgent self-care, practice the R.I.C.E. method: rest, ice, compression, elevation
- You can take over-the-counter pain medication which can help reduce the pain in some cases
- Gently start using the area once the pain subsides approximately two days after the incident
- Consult a physical therapist or an orthopaedic specialist if you experience moderate or severe pain. You may need to take additional tests to determine the right form of treatment for your injury
Here are a few steps you can take to avoid a strain or sprain while playing sports:
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Eat a balanced diet
- Stretch and warm up before a workout
- Wear a brace if you have a history of experiencing sprains
- Practice proper technique and posture
- Avoid playing sports or working out if you are in pain or feeling tired
- Wear footwear designed for the activity
2. Broken bones
Fractures or broken bones are a form of an acute injury. There are three potential causes of a fracture:
This type of injury can occur in any sport, although playing full-contact sports such as soccer, American football and basketball can increase the chances of developing a fracture.
How to treat the injury
Fractures are often painful, which can get worse with moving the affected area. It also requires immediate medical attention. If you believe a fracture has occurred, stop the game to prevent the injury from getting worse and immediately call 911. While waiting for help to arrive, perform the following steps:
- Stop any bleeding by putting a clean piece of cloth on the wound and applying pressure
- Use a splint and pieces of cloth to secure the injured area and prevent it from moving
- Reduce swelling and provide pain relief by applying an ice pack, which you can make by wrapping ice in a piece of cloth or a towel
- Elevate the injured area to help reduce the swelling and control bleeding
Although it may be impossible to determine when you can get a fracture, strengthening your bones can help reduce your chances. Here are a few tips to help you achieve this objective:
- Eat a balanced diet with adequate doses of vitamin D and calcium
- Maintain a healthy weight to reduce pressure on your bones
- Avoid or stop smoking as it affects your body’s ability to absorb calcium and your bones from healing quickly
- Talk to your doctor if you are taking medications such as steroids as these can affect bone density
Unless a compound fracture has occurred, people may sometimes confuse dislocations with having a broken bone. The pain may feel similar but what happens internally is significantly different. In a dislocation, the bone shifts from its normal position. It does not break or splinter.
Similar to broken bones, this type of injury is fairly common when playing contact sports such as basketball and American football.
How to treat the injury
Much like a fracture, a dislocation requires immediate medical attention. It is common for the affected area to appear deformed when a bone is dislocated. The patient will experience acute and severe pain. Get medical help as soon as you can. Perform the following steps while waiting for help to arrive:
- Secure the joint with a splint. Contrary to popular belief, do not attempt to force the injured part back into place as this could cause more damage
- Reduce swelling by placing an ice pack on the affected area
There are some things you can do to reduce the chances of a dislocation. Here are a few options:
- Maintain a healthy weight to minimize the pressure on your bones
- Wear protective gear when playing contact sports
- Exercise regularly to strengthen the tendons and muscles connected to your joints
Physical activity can increase your chances of getting injured. However, the fear of injury should not deter you from playing sports or making the most out of life. Schedule an appointment with our orthopaedic surgeon if you have any questions concerning sports injuries or would like to know your options after an injury.