Warmer weather and longer days herald the start of the summer athletics season. Whether you’re a canoeist, cyclist, beach volleyball player or something else, if you’re limbering up to start competing, or if your children are getting ready to compete, it’s worth building some injury-prevention steps into your training schedule.
Sporting Injury Statistics
Here’s why. Hospital Episodes Statistics data breaks down A&E attendances into types of patients. In 2013/14, 1.7% of all visits to A&E were due to a sporting injury. That is higher than the number of people attending A&E following a road traffic accident (1.2%).
Sports injuries are very common and the impact of an injury can be painful and long-lasting, in some cases. Bones, joints, muscles, tendons and ligaments are all prone to injury with ankles and knees being particularly susceptible.
Of course, the benefit of taking part in sports and exercise far outweighs any risks but to avoid becoming one of the injury statistics, it is worth being aware of the major causes of sports injuries, the types of injuries that can occur and the best way of avoiding them.
Causes of Sports Injuries
Sports injuries are often caused by a fall, heavy blow or a collision. Not warming up properly before exercising can result in sprains, strains and muscle tears while failing to use protective equipment or using it incorrectly can also increase the risk of injury.
The temptation in competitive sports to push yourself too hard is a primary cause of injury.
Common Sporting Injuries
Among the most common sporting injuries we see at W27 are:
- Sprains, which occur when the ligaments are overstretched, twisted or torn.
- Strains, which are torn or stretched muscles.
- Stress fractures – tiny cracks that develop in the bone as a result of repeated stresses, such as high impact activities like running.
- Shin splints, which are painful shins caused by inflammation in the tissues around the shin bone.
- Hamstring injuries, which are tears to the large muscles or tendons at the back of the thigh.
- Fractures, including ankles, arms, wrists, legs, fingers and toes. The pain of a fracture can be severe and there may be swelling, bruising and, if the bone has punctured the skin, bleeding.
- Head injuries.
- Swollen joints, including bursitis which can affect the elbow, knee and hip, tendonitis which can affect the shoulder, knee, thigh, elbow, wrist, finger or back of the heel, and tennis elbow.
- Knee pain including anterior cruciate ligament tears, cartilage damage and runner’s knee.
- Dislocated shoulder.
It is not possible to prevent every type of sporting injury, however, there are some ways to reduce your risk of getting injured. If you or your children are playing sport remember to:
- Warm up properly before starting to avoid the risk of soft tissue injuries.
- Recognise your current fitness levels and don’t try and push yourself too hard.
- Get proper coaching so you learn the correct techniques and don’t get into bad habits.
- Use the right equipment, such as proper running shoes and shin guards.
What to Do if You Get Injured
If you feel pain stop exercising. Continuing to exercise if you are injured can cause further damage, which may result in longer downtime or even serious complications. If you have a minor sprain or muscle tear the RICE method can help (rest, ice to control swelling, compression and elevation of the injured limb), along with painkillers and anti-inflammatories.
If you suspect a serious injury such as a fracture, major soft tissue injury or head injury you should seek immediate medical help.
It is important to get a prompt diagnosis so you can begin an appropriate course of treatment and avoid any further damage to the injured area. Diagnosis from a specialist musculoskeletal radiologist means you have access to expert guidance and medical advice.