As days are getting longer and sunnier, many Los Angeles residents are spending more time being active and returning to the outdoor sports that they love.
That can mean a return to common sports injuries as well, particularly if the body has grown used to a more sedentary lifestyle over the last year. When those injuries occur, it can be challenging to know how serious they are, no matter the level of pain you’re feeling in the moment.
Whether you’re generally quite active or just returning to a more active lifestyle, it’s important to be aware of the most common sports injuries, how to treat them and when to seek help from a medical professional.
Sprains & Strains
Sprains and strains are two of the most common sports injuries, and both are linked back to the overuse of ligaments and muscles in your body. These types of injuries are most common in sports like soccer, football, basketball, and volleyball. Sprains are an injury affecting your ligaments or what connects your bones at the joint. Your ankles are most susceptible to a sprain injury, and depending on the severity of your injury, treatment plans may include physical therapy in your sprained ankle recovery.
Strains are an injury to your muscles or tendons. Areas commonly affected are the hamstrings, groin muscles, and quads. A common treatment immediately after common injuries like strains is the RICE method, or Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation focused on the affected area.
Knee injuries range from Patellofemoral syndrome, an overuse injury where it’s recommended to swap low-impact exercise for more aggressive sports activities, to a torn ACL, one of the most severe of the common sports injuries. Those who have suffered an ACL tear often report hearing a pop sound in the affected knee, followed by pain and swelling. A full tear in the ACL will require surgery to regain function in that knee, but minor tears may be addressed through physical therapy.
Concussions are serious sports injuries that follow a blow to the head. Hockey, football, and rugby are all sports prone to an increased chance of concussion, but no head injuries should be taken lightly.
Seek medical help if you’re experiencing symptoms of a concussion. Those include headache, dizziness, nausea, light sensitivity, and slowed response times. General treatments that follow a concussion include rest and avoiding activities where reinjury is possible. Keep in mind that professional athletes must be cleared to return to their sport as part of concussion protocols; treat your health and possible concussions just as seriously.
Tennis elbow, or epicondylitis, is an overuse injury caused by repetitive movements in your elbow’s tendons. Whether it’s tennis or with a frequent golf hobby, those swings you make again and again can cause tears in those tendons. Luckily, taking a break from the activity is typically all you need to do to heal.
Fractures, or broken bones, are painful sports injuries most common in the feet, legs, and arms. Treatments will depend on the severity of the break but often include splints or casts to immobilize the area and allow your body to heal. More severe cases may involve surgery down the line. Assume that, at best, a treatment protocol will involve six to eight weeks of healing time.
Dislocations occur when a bone is popped out of its socket. Most common in the shoulder, dislocations require immediate medical attention to return the joint back to its socket. Common treatments for dislocations are immobilization and rest in the affected joint and ice to reduce swelling. Recovery times depend on the severity of the injury.
How to Prevent Sports Injuries
No matter your level of fitness or how adept you feel you are at a given sport, there are ways to participate in sports safely and put you at less risk for the most common sports injuries.
What sport has the most injuries, by the way?
Experts say it’s basketball. Even in full-contact sports like it, though, there are ways to prevent sports injuries.
Wear the right gear
Use the right equipment and monitor wear and tear on your gear, especially shoes if you’re an avid runner. Wear protective gear or padding when sports involve more contact. If you’re new to a sport, watch your technique, as well. The wrong movements in the wrong way can lead to injury.
Take a break
Overuse is a common culprit behind the most common sports injuries. Even professionally trained athletes incorporate rest days into their fitness programs. Do the same, particularly if you’re new to a sport and just introducing your body to a new routine and unique movements on your joints.
Add strength training to your routine
Work on strengthening the muscles around the affected area if you’re prone to injuries in certain joints. Introduce stretching before and after any sports activities or workouts to improve your flexibility and warm-ups to get your body ready to move.
Listen to your body
If a sport is causing you pain, listen to your body and take a break. If the pain persists, it may be time to seek additional help in treating a sports injury.
Get Regular Sports Physicals
Whether you’re playing sports competitively in high school or college or just play for fun, scheduling regular sports physicals is very important to make sure that you’re in tip-top shape. Your physician can help you identify any issues before they occur and ensure that no underlying health issues will impede your performance.
Treating Common Sports Injuries & When to Seek Help
The RICE method is sometimes enough for a mild sprain, for example, but there are times when you may need to see a sports injury doctor or seek the help of urgent care services in Los Angeles. Avoiding medical treatment can affect healing and prolong treatment.
Seek professional medical help immediately if you have:
- A visible issue on your body, e.g., swelling, a deformity, or hear popping or crunching sounds when you move the affected joint.
- An inability to walk or move a joint.
- Severe pain or swelling where the injury occurred.
- A difficulty breathing, dizziness, nausea, or fever.
Even with what you believe to be minor injuries, if your pain or symptoms aren’t going away, book online to speak to a healthcare professional at Reliant. On top of efficient services and treatment of the most common sports injuries, Reliant also offers physical therapy services for those in need of follow-up care following that injury. We know how stressful it can be to become sidelined from your favorite activities and are here to help you through it.