Sports are an enjoyable past time for many, whether on the amateur or professional level. Participating in sports has many benefits related to physical fitness and stress relief. Group sports are also a great way to create and maintain active social relationships.
However, with the benefits of sports come some drawbacks, one of the major ones being injuries. Sports injuries can range from mild, such as abrasions, to severe, such as concussions and fractures. According to WebMD, the most common sports injuries include ankle sprains, hamstring strains, groin pulls, knee injuries, shin splints, and tennis elbow.
Many times, people mistakenly use the terms ‘sprain’ and ‘strain’ interchangeably, but there is a noticeable difference between the two. A sprain is an injury to the ligament, the tough band that connects a bone to a joint. Sprains are caused when ligaments are suddenly stretched beyond their limits. A strain is a tear in the muscle fiber or tendon, which connects muscle to bone. This type of injury occurs when a muscle is overused or overstretched, and is commonly referred to as a pulled muscle.
Sometimes there is no way to prevent a sports injury. Even professional athletes in top condition fall victim to them. However, there are some things that can be done to prevent or lessen the chance for injury.
First, it’s extremely important to stretch and warm-up before working out. A good stretch increases flexibility as well as blood flow to the muscles, making them less prone to injury.
Another crucial point to remember when playing sports is to know your limitations. Trying to be Lebron James on the basketball court or Tiger Woods on the golf course is a surefire way to increase your chances of being injured. Even where competition is not involved, there is still a danger of overextending muscles if you aren’t properly conditioned. If you haven’t worked out in a while, then you need to ease your way back into a regular exercise routine. Making the transformation from professional channel surfer to marathon runner is not an overnight process and doing too much too soon will almost inevitably lead to some kind of injury.
If an injury does occur despite precautions, treating a sprain or strain usually involves the R.I.C.E. method. R.I.C.E. stands for rest, ice, compression, and elevation. Limiting or discontinuing use of the injured area for at least 48 hours, using ice packs and compression such as a brace to reduce swelling, and elevating the affected body part above the heart, will ease the symptoms of most simple injuries. If an injury is severe, medical treatment should be sought to determine if more drastic action needs to be taken. In some cases, especially involving ACL tears, surgery is necessary.
Injuries are an unfortunate consequence of playing sports but using good judgment can go a long way in preventing them or in speeding up the healing process if they do occur.