7 Most Common Sports Injuries (And How to Protect Yourself)


Did you know that recreational basketball caused more than 500,000 injuries last year? It’s followed by bicycling and football for the most recreational sports injuries.

It’s not just professional athletes that must worry about getting hurt.

Whether you play for fun or are on the college team, you’re more prone to injuries than non-athletes. Knowing how to prevent these accidents is key.

If you want to keep playing your sport for many years to come, keep reading. These are the most common sports injuries and the top tips to prevent them.

1. Concussion

Over 3.8 million concussions occur in America each year from playing sports. We all know that football is a huge category of those concussions, but they aren’t limited to one sport. Concussions get reported in rugby, soccer, hockey, and even competitive horseback riding.

A concussion occurs when a blow to the head injures the brain. The symptoms of a concussion include confusion, nausea, headache, and slurred speech. The sufferer may have delayed responses to questions and seem disoriented.

But, many athletes feel the competitive rush to keep playing despite their injury. This is never recommended, as concussions can lead to serious brain injuries. Athletes should seek medical help if they suspect they have a concussion.

How can you prevent concussions? By wearing protective gear, like a helmet, when playing. And learn the proper techniques of contact in your sport.

2. Tennis Elbow

Sometimes called “golf elbow”, tennis elbow is usually an overuse injury. Often, it’s related to repetitive gripping, like in tennis and golf.

Gripping a tennis racket for an extended period, repetitively, can inflame the tendons. The tendons around the elbow are extra sensitive to repetitive gripping. But, you can also experience similar pain in the hand and wrist.

The pain that comes with tennis elbow can feel tender, achy, and be throbbing. At the first signs of tennis elbow, you should ice the area to reduce inflammation.

Rest is important in all sports, but especially gripping-related ones. You want to avoid getting a hyperextended elbow, an injury more damaging than tennis elbow. To continue playing these sports, stretch your muscles thoroughly.

3. ACL Tear

The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is a crucial ligament in the knee. It’s necessary for balance and stability when standing and moving.

The ACL can get torn when athletes pivot or stop short when running. The momentum of the body continues even though they’ve changed direction or speed. You’ll likely notice swelling and pain in the knee.

This injury can be detrimental to your short-term sports future. In some cases, resting your body and using ice, along with scar tissue growth, can heal the tear. Sometimes you need surgery, which comes with months of recovery time and physiotherapy.

To prevent a tear in your ACL, always warm up before playing sports. Work on strengthening the muscles that surround the ACL to further protect it.   

4. Shin Splints

Any long-distance runner will tell you that shin splints aren’t fun. They occur in 20 percent of runners, as well as in sports that include running, like soccer and basketball. 

Shin splints occur when the front surface of the tibia, or shin, gets inflamed. That can happen from overuse, or suddenly increasing your training level.

If you get shin splints, you need to be proactive about ensuring they don’t come back. Ice your shins regularly and focus on strengthening your calf and ankle muscles. If you’re going to increase your training, do so gradually.

Some sources recommend wearing shoes with high arches or shock-absorbent socks. But, there isn’t enough proof that either method will prevent shin splints.

5. Groin Pull

Explosive movements can cause the groin muscles, adductors, to get pulled and strained. It often happens while jumping or changing direction when running fast. Sudden pivots can cause a groin pull.

When a groin pull happens, you’ll know right away. The muscles will feel sore and sometimes there’s a sharp pain. The groin is needed for all movement, so you might have trouble walking, sitting down, and standing up.

Groin pull can take many weeks to fully recover from. You’ll need to ice the muscles regularly and work on slowly getting mobility back. Physiotherapy can be very helpful.

Sports injury specialists recommend strengthening your core and upper leg muscles. These muscle groups are necessary to support the groin area.

6. Hamstring Strain

The number one most common sports injury related to tendons is the hamstring pull. Your hamstring is the muscle that stretches vertically along the back of the thigh. When this muscle is tight, it’s prone to strains and tears.

A strain in the hamstring can cause the athlete to be out of commission for weeks. They may notice aching, soreness, and even bruising on the back of the thigh.

This common injury is often caused by improper form. When you’re running to your maximum effort, form tends to take a backseat as you push yourself. This is when injuries happen.

You can prevent hamstring strain by warming up your muscles before using them. Work on strengthening the hamstring itself. And consider getting your form checked by a physical therapist.

7. Ankle Sprain

This injury is not limited to athletes only. Everyday people sprain their ankle by simply stepping incorrectly or tripping. When the ankle rolls, it tears the ligaments in the ankle joint.

Athletes are more likely to experience ankle strain if they play on uneven ground. Like, long-distance runners running through a forest trail.

You’ll notice swelling around the ankle and pain when you apply pressure to it. The best healer of ankle sprains is rest and ice.

You can prevent future ankle strains by improving your balance and stability. Strengthen your ankle and calf muscles and consider wearing ankle braces.

Want to Learn More About the Most Common Sports Injuries?

Athletes are no strangers to injuries. Getting injured while playing sports is incredibly common, albeit preventable.

Learn how to prevent the most common sports injuries above. Then, check out the Health section of the site for more sports-related tips.

Jeff Campbell

Jeff Campbell is a husband, father, martial artist, budget-master, Disney-addict, musician, and recovering foodie having spent over 2 decades as a leader for Whole Foods Market. Click to learn more about me

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