5 of the most common injuries related to fall sports and how to prevent them.
It’s officially fall, and that means some of America’s most popular sports are in full swing, including football, soccer, basketball, volleyball, and baseball. These sports require great athleticism and precision, and they can provide entertainment for viewers. But when it comes to sports, there’s always a risk for injury.
Here are some of the most common injuries players face when participating in popular fall sports:
1. Strained Hip Flexor
The hip flexor muscle group helps move the leg or knee upward. Straining your hip flexor can occur when the muscles are torn or stretched too far. Hip flexor strains are common in sports that have sudden upward movements or change in direction, such as football and soccer; they can also be caused by a sudden fall or from stiff muscles. Athletes should do a thorough warm up and build up these muscle groups to avoid a strain.
2. Torn ACL
The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) connects the leg bone to the knee, and when it is torn, it is one of the most severe injuries. Stopping suddenly, changing directions, or receiving a hard impact to the side of the knee can cause an ACL strain or tear. Repairing an ACL injury requires surgery, and it usually takes a minimum of 6 months recovery, plus physical therapy before players can get back into the game.
We have all heard about sports-related concussions, so it’s no wonder they are one of the most common injuries. These brain injuries happen when there is a significant hit to the head, and they can result in loss of consciousness. Other side effects include nausea, disorientation, difficulty concentrating and headaches. Athletes that are at most risk are football players, soccer players, boxers and skiers, just to name a few. Concussions need to be handled with caution, and athletes with a concussion should rest for 2 to 4 weeks; multiple concussions or returning to a sport too quickly can cause permanent brain damage.
4. Pulled Groin
The groin—that inner thigh muscle—can often be pulled when a sport requires side-to-side motion. Bruising along the inside of the thigh can often accompany groin pulls, and can take 1-2 weeks to heal. The best treatment includes compression, ice and lots of rest. If there is any swelling, it may be best to see a doctor. Athletes can prevent groin pulls by stretching properly before activity.
5. Patellofemoral Syndrome
Knee injuries, or Patellofemoral syndrome, account for about 55% of all sports-related injuries. When the knee cap repeatedly rubs against the leg bone, the constant friction ends up damaging the kneecap tissue and causing pain. Doctors often recommend up to 6 weeks of rest in order to recover from Patellofemoral syndrome; they also suggest keeping the leg muscles strong by doing low impact exercise. Those with patellofemoral syndrome should rest, ice the knee and take anti-inflammatory medicine, especially in the first couple of days, to help speed up the recovery process. After an athlete has experienced a knee injury, he or she should always properly warm up before exercise and ice for 20 minutes after. This injury is most common in basketball, football, volleyball and running.
Other injuries that are common in fall sports include shoulder injuries, tennis or golf elbow, hamstring strain and sciatica. All injuries require rest and attention, and athletes should have injuries thoroughly assessed before returning to the playing field.
Source: Top 10 Most Common Sports Injuries. Unity Point Health. January 2015. www.unitypoint.org