In 760 BC, the first recorded ancient Olympic Games occurred. Those games were not the same as how we perceive the modern Olympics today. Nearly 3,000 years ago, only one even took place: a footrace. Since then, males and females alike have competed in countless competitions, from soccer and swimming to jumping and javelin.
Yet, with that competitive spirit comes competitive injury that can keep you off the field. At Methodist McKinney, we hear of (and frequently experience) various sports injuries on a very regular basis. So, what exactly are the most common sports injuries that occur and what is the common thread between them all?
There are many different types of sports injuries with varying degrees of severity. Generally, we see the following most frequently: ankle sprains, hamstring strains, shin splints, knee injury (ACL tear), and groin pull.
Most of these injuries occur when ligaments, the bands that connect bones in your joints, become overstretched and result in a strain or tear. This overuse causes tension and can result in damage almost anywhere in the body.
When these types of injuries occur, there are ways to ease the pain and possibly mend before needing to consult a physician.
- For ankle sprains, it’s important to determine where the sprain has occurred in the foot. If the tenderness occurs higher than the ankle, a high ankle sprain is most likely what has occurred. Higher ankles sprains are typically more severe and can take longer to heal naturally. A consultation from your physician will also be able to help determine if any bones in the lower leg separated or not.If a regular sprain has been suffered, remember the acronym RICE: Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevate. Get off your feet as soon as possible, apply ice on and off for 20 minutes, keep light pressure around the swollen or bruised area, and elevate your ankle.
- A hamstring strain is very common amongst athletes because the hamstring consists of three muscles located behind the thigh. With more muscle comes greater risk of injury. Typically, runners or athletes who work their legs aggressively are the ones who suffer most frequently.If a you pull a hamstring, you may be on a long road to recovery, simply due to the fact that there is pressure and strain consistently applied to the hamstring, usually from walking. On average, this injury can take anywhere from 4 months to a year before fully healed.
- Shin splints are often uncomfortable pains that run down the front of the leg. Generally experienced most frequently by runners and distance runners, resting and icing, coupled with OTC pain medication can make shin splints tolerable. You should only need to see a doctor if the pain increases and persists.
- Groin injuries can plague even the most limber of athletes. Generally experienced by someone pushing off side-to-side or over-extending the leg, groin injuries cause strain within the inner thigh muscles. Usually, baseball, football, hockey, soccer and other field sports can cause groin pulls.Ice, rest and compression can help heal a groin pull. Also, ensuring that you give yourself enough time without rushing back out to the field is important. A physician should be consulted if there is significant swelling that accompanies the injury.
- Finally, an ACL tear is one of the most severe injuries that athletes can encounter. This tendon holds the leg bone to the knee and is crucial for movement and flexibility. Many times, an audible ‘pop’ can be heard if the ACL is hurt or torn.Immediately see your physician if you believe you’ve sustained an ACL injury. Many times, ACL injuries will require surgery in order to maintain a physically active lifestyle.
The good news is that, in most situations, many of these injuries can be prevented if proper stretching is performed pre-workout. If a sports-related injury is sustained that does not show improvement, contact our specialists at Methodist McKinney Hospital and we’ll get you back in the game as quickly as possible.