Injuries come in all shapes and sizes, and sometimes it doesn’t have to be a full tear or broken bone to keep you from your fitness goals. They may not always be worthy of a trip to the emergency room, but recovery should still be treated as seriously as the rest of your sporting performance. Here, we’ll take a look at the most common sports injuries and what you can do to recover from them.
Sprains to your ankle are up there in terms of common sports injuries, particularly in exercises that involve jumping, twisting and sudden movements that can throw you off balance. The symptoms to look out for include tenderness, swelling and bruising.
A sprained ankle can happen to anyone, but particularly if you have weak muscles outside of your ankles. Swelling is natural, but if you hear a popping sound when it’s injured and severe bruising develops, then this may be a ligament tear – which requires medical treatment.
There’s no specific timeframe for recovery. Ligaments can take six weeks to fully heal, but it’s advisable, if the injury is minor, to keep the weight off your foot for three days at first.
This is the strain of your inner thigh from pushing off in a sideward movement. Groin pulls frequently occur in sports such as hockey, skating and soccer.
You can treat a pulled groin with rest, ice and compression. The swelling will be immediate, but if severe pain continues for more than a few days, contact a doctor. A mild groin injury may recover in a few weeks, but more severe ones can take months to heal. As with most common sports injuries, patience is key to recovery.
Your hamstring consists of three muscles in the back of your thigh — which means there’s lots that can go wrong. It’s one of the most common sports injuries as it’s easily overstretched if you don’t warm up properly. A hamstring strain can be caused by sudden kicking and lunging movements in every sport from tennis to running.
This is a difficult injury to overcome. It may be prevented in some cases by routine hamstring stretches and keeping your legs warm, but when seriously injured, rest is the best remedy to keep it from stress.
Bad hamstring strains can take six months to a year to fully heal due to the fact that it’s difficult for many people to remain inactive long enough to get the rest that it needs.
Your anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) keeps your knee in place. It’s highly sensitive and so tears may be caused by sudden stops or knocks from the side. You may also hear a horrible popping sound when it happens.
This is definitely an injury for the doctor’s attention. You won’t be able to put weight on your leg and so rest is 100 percent in order. Treatment often includes surgery, after which recovery can take more than six months.
Also known as runner’s knee, this is a knee injury caused by repeatedly moving your knee cap against your thigh bone, as a result, injuring the tissue of your knee. This is one of the common sports injuries in cycling if the rider over-does it or their bike fit is bad.
For treatment you need to take your time to rest the injury for around six weeks and build up your strength again by isolating your quads. Once you’ve recovered, you may wish to vary your exercise more to prevent the injury from reoccurring.
Also known as epicondylitis, tennis elbow is a repetitive strain to your elbow, which damages the tendons in the forearm. Despite its name, tennis elbow can be caused by many repetitive movements such as decorating or even playing the violin as well as other sports.
It can clear up by avoiding the repetitive action in question. The tendon may repair in around 6 weeks, and with it the pain should go away. If not, that’s when it’s time to consult a doctor or a physiotherapist.
This is an overstretching of your calf muscle, which can be caused by anything from minor jogging to high octane athleticism. Believe us, you’ll know when you’ve done this one. Initially, you may think that you’ve just been hit in the back of the leg and hear a snap or popping sound. This will be swiftly followed by pain in your calf and then swelling and bruising, if the tear is severe.
A mild strain can recover in a week or so, but anything more serious may take around 3-4 months to heal. Initially you’ll need to rest the calf and then slowly return to gently exercising it. When possible, you should elevate and wear a compression bandage too.
This is a common injury that involves pain down the front of your shins, which may be brought on by running and other heavy impact activities without good cushioning beneath your feet.
You can treat them at home with rest and ice, but if the pain is still bad after a few days of rest, it may be a stress fracture, which requires a doctor’s attention.
With ice and rest, and supportive, cushioned shoes, this can heal after a couple of weeks, after which you can gradually build back up to your usual activities.
Hip Flexor Strain
Your hip flexors help you with everything from running down to standing up from sitting. It may be caused in a sport such as hurdling, football or soccer when lifting your thigh. Depending on how badly it’s strained, your hip flexor can take between one and eight weeks to heal.
The best way to treat it at home is to rest it and keep your weight off your hip. In more severe cases crutches are advisable, and if the pain persists, that’s when you should speak to your doctor.
A concussion is a blow to your head, and there is a broad spectrum to the severity of them. A very minor concussion may have few symptoms and be healed in less than 24 hours, but others can cause sensitivity to light, headaches, migraines, unconsciousness and brain damage.
Concussions should be taken seriously, so if you suffer a blow to the head during a sports game that is more than minor, avoid driving and sleeping before seeing your doctor or heading to the emergency room — always tell someone that you have had a blow to the head so that they can help you if necessary.
Best Tips For Sports Injuries
The first rule of treating sports injuries at home is RICE:
Rest the injury by keeping your weight off it and avoiding impact at all costs.
Ice the pain — this can help with inflammation and cool the heat that the injury creates.
Compression means wrapping it up, but not so tight that you cut off the circulation.
Elevation affects your circulation and ensures that it’s not made worse with pressure and impact.
These steps can take care of the immediate side effects of an injury, such as redness, soreness, swelling and stiffness. An extra ingredient is patience. If you’ve suffered a minor injury it will need more than a few days to heal properly. Whatever you do, don’t try to ‘run it off’ can result in making things worse.
If you’re patient and think RICE, but severe pain still persists after a few days, you should speak to your doctor. Try to avoid injury by listening to your body and be strict with a proper warm-up and cool-down.
Take Home Message
Stretching and sufficient cardio and muscular warm ups are the best way to avoid injuries, but some of the most common sports injuries can happen without warning and in the simplest ways. When they do — unfortunately — happen, rest the injury, apply ice and compression and elevate the injury when treating it at home. Remember, injuries happen to the best of us, so stay positive and with the right R and R, you’ll be back at it in no time.