Common Athletic Injuries and How to Avoid Them
Regardless of the level of the sport, injuries are just a part of the game. For many athletes, an injury can seem like a major setback or even possibly a career-altering event.
Here are a few some common athletic injuries and ways to prevent or improve each. Always consult with your healthcare provider first before starting a new workout routine.
- Rotator Cuff Tear: One of the most common shoulder injuries is tearing of the rotator cuff. A rotator cuff strain is a tear to any of the four rotator cuff muscles in the shoulder. Majority of shoulder injuries happen in sports like tennis, swimming, and baseball because of the repeated overhead movements. Rotator cuff injuries are typically characterized by weakness in the shoulder, reduced range of motion, and stiffness. To strengthen the shoulder and help prevent injury to the rotator cuff, try a heavy band row, a band pull or abduction shoulder dumbbell curls.
- SLAP Tear: Another common shoulder injury is a SLAP (Superior Labrum Anterior and Posterior) tear. According to sportshealth.com, a SLAP tear is “an injury to the labrum of the shoulder, which is the ring of cartilage that surrounds the socket of the shoulder joint.” This is a significant injury because of its location. The labrum helps to deepen the socket and stabilize the shoulder joint. Some of the causes include dislocation, repetitive overhead movement, and wearing down of the labrum. To help strengthen this area, try face pulls, or lunges and squats with overhead weights.
- Ankle Sprain: Spraining your ankle is one of the most common ankle injuries for athletes. With any sport that involves running or turning quickly, spraining your ankle is a sure possibility. Ankle sprains are the most prevalent in soccer, basketball, and volleyball. They can range from mild to severe depending on the condition of the ligament. To help prevent ankle injuries, try single-leg balances, calf raises and ankle circles.
- Ankle Fracture: An ankle fracture involves breaking one or more of the bones that make up the ankle joint. It may take up to 3-4 months to return back to normal activity; however, it may take longer to return to sports. Take precautions to prevent ankle fractures including wearing proper footwear. You can also do ankle-strengthening exercises such as ankle circles.
- UCL Injury: An Ulnar Collateral Ligament (UCL) injury is most common in throwers. Athletes have pain on the inside of their elbow, resulting in decreased throwing velocity. These are injuries are mostly caused from repetitive high-speed throwing. To help prevent these, athletes can practice rotator cuff strengthening, extremity stretching and core strengthening.
- Forearm Fracture: Forearm fractures are common in children playing on the playground or participating in sports. They can occur in a number of places along the forearm including near the wrist or in the middle of the forearm. To help prevent forearm fractures, athletes and children can strengthen bones by getting enough calcium (drink milk), wear protective gear and exercise regularly.
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Photo Credit: Jan-Joost Verheof