Ever been sidelined with an annoying injury when you’re just starting to hit your stride?
Yep, it’s the worst.
But, worry not, because when sports injuries strike, experts like Dr. Doerr from Bergen Chiropractic have got your back … and your knees, and your shoulders! With extensive knowledge of sports-related injuries and a comprehensive arsenal of treatment techniques, Dr. Doerr is just the person you need to get you off the bench and back in the game.
So, stick around as we dive deeper into some of the most common sports injuries, their causes, symptoms, and most importantly, how sports chiropractors come to the rescue!
Am I Susceptible to a Sports Injury?
Anybody is susceptible to a sports injury, whether you’re a pro athlete, a weekend warrior, or just someone trying out a new physical activity. Certain risk factors increase your predisposition to both minor and more serious injuries, including:
- Activity Type: High-intensity sports like football, basketball, or rugby often come with a higher risk of injury. But even lower-impact activities like jogging or swimming can lead to acute injuries.
- Training and Preparation: Skipping warm-ups or cool-downs, not using proper gear, or not following good form or technique can all put you in the injury zone.
- Fitness Level: Your body will protest if you’re out of shape and jump into an intense activity. It’s important to build up your fitness level gradually.
- Age: Kids and teens are more prone to certain injuries because their bodies are still growing. Older adults may also have a higher risk due to decreased bone density and muscle flexibility.
- Previous Injuries: Repeated injuries and partial recovery make you more susceptible to recurring issues.
6 Causes of Sports Injuries
Sports injuries are a common occurrence, whether you’re casually shooting hoops in the backyard or you’re running a marathon. While accidents can happen at times, certain factors increase the likelihood of sports injuries:
- Poor Training Practices: If you don’t warm up/cool down properly, if your form is off, or if you’re not using the right equipment, you’re setting yourself up for potential injuries.
- Overdoing It: Going too hard, too fast, or too long can lead to overuse injuries. Your body needs time to recover and adapt to new levels of physical stress.
- Being Out of Shape: Couch potatoes are never ready for intense physical activity. Start off with baby steps, slowly allowing your body to prepare for the upcoming physical stress.
- Environment: Slippery or uneven surfaces, poor lighting, extreme weather conditions — they can all lead to injuries if you’re not careful.
- Not Using Proper Gear: Whether it’s the right footwear, protective padding, or equipment suited to your size and ability level, appropriate gear is essential to preventing injuries.
- Ignoring Fatigue or Pain: Not heeding your body’s signals is a risky move. If you’re feeling worn out or you’re in pain, it’s best to take a break. Playing through pain will only worsen an injury.
8 Common Symptoms of Sports Injuries
Getting sidelined is every athlete’s worst nightmare. That’s why you must learn to recognize the signs of an impending injury.
Here are some of the most common symptoms of sports injuries:
- Pain: Sharp, persistent pain — anything different from the typical “feeling the burn” sensation — is a sign that something might be off.
- Swelling: It’s normal to experience swelling right after an injury, but if it doesn’t recede after a few days or gets worse, it’s time to see a physician.
- Limited Mobility: The inability to move a joint as far as usual might be a sign of an injury.
- Weakness: Feeling unusually weak or unstable in a specific area, like your knee giving out when you’re running, can be a sign of an injury.
- Visible Deformities: If something looks out of place (like a bone or joint), immediately seek out medical attention.
- Numbness or Tingling: These can be signs of nerve damage.
- Changes in Skin Color: If the skin around an area is red, blue, or looks different than usual, you might have an injury.
- Tenderness: If an area is particularly sensitive to touch or pressure, it could be injured.
15 Most Common Sports Injuries
Achilles tendinitis occurs when your Achilles tendon — the tough band of tissue connecting your calf muscle to your heel bone — gets irritated from too much running, jumping, or even walking. It’s like a nagging pain or stiffness in the back of your leg or just above your heel.
Runners experience Achilles tendinitis most often, especially if they exert themselves too hard or too quickly. Also, weekend athletes who suddenly want to relive their high school glory days can get hit with it.
The key is to gradually increase your activity level, warm up before you start, and listen to your body when it’s telling you it’s time to chill!
An ankle sprain is like the classic misstep of the sports world. It’s when you roll, twist or awkwardly land on your ankle causing the ligaments (those elastic bands of tissue that hold your ankle bones together) to stretch or tear.
You know you’re dealing with an ankle sprain when you get that sudden sharp pain, swelling, bruising, or even trouble walking.
Athletes are prone to it, especially if they play sports that involve jumping, running, or any quick change in direction. The good news is, most of the time, with a bit of rest, ice, compression, and elevation (for example, the RICE treatment), you’ll be back on your feet in no time.
Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injury
The Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) is the superstar of sports injuries.
The ACL is one of the four main ligaments in your knee, playing a big role in keeping your knee stable. So, hearing about an ACL injury is about as fun as stepping on a Lego barefoot.
It often occurs when you’re making a sudden change in direction or landing a jump — think basketball or soccer. It feels like your knee just can’t hold you up anymore.
These injuries range from mild (a small tear) to severe (the ligament is torn completely or detached from the bone).
A bone fracture is basically when the load on a bone is way heavier than what it can handle. It’s like if you pile too many books on a thin shelf, eventually, it will crack or break.
Bone fractures manifest themselves either as stress fractures (tiny cracks in the bone from overuse, like running marathons or dancing ballet on repeat) or as traumatic fractures (think about crashing on your bike or getting tackled hard during football practice).
Either way, it’s a bummer because it means rest and healing time, but it’s also your body’s sign that it needs a break!
A concussion is essentially your brain getting shaken up inside your skull, often due to a hard hit or sudden jolt.
Think of your brain as a soft organ floating in fluid inside your hard skull. A blow to the head or even a swift whiplash-like movement can cause the brain to smack into the skull, resulting in a concussion.
Symptoms can range from headaches, dizziness, and confusion, to even loss of consciousness.
But here’s the kicker — symptoms might not show up immediately. So if you or a teammate takes a hard knock, it’s super important to immediately get checked out by a physician ASAP, even if you feel fine at first. After all, we’re talking about the brain here! Safety first, and playing sports comes second.
A golfer’s elbow occurs when the tendons on the inside of your elbow get irritated or damaged, usually from overuse. Imagine the strain on your forearm when you’re doing a golf swing, throwing a baseball, or even just lifting weights — that’s the spot.
Despite its name, you don’t have to be a golfer to get it. It can be a real pain, literally, causing discomfort on the inner side of your elbow and sometimes even down your forearm. You might also notice weakness in your hand and wrist.
If you’ve got it, rest and ice are your best friends. Don’t forget to stretch and strengthen those muscles to prevent it from happening again!
Groin pull is a sports injury you definitely want to dodge. Imagine the muscles of your inner thigh having a major disagreement with a sudden move you make, like a quick side-step, twist, or intense sprint. That’s what we call a groin pull or a groin strain.
This type of injury happens when those inner thigh muscles get stretched beyond their comfort zone. It may range from mild discomfort or an acute injury. If you feel a sudden sharp pain, weakness, or even a popping feeling in the groin area during your workout or game, you may have pulled your groin.
Rest and ice the area right after the injury, and if the pain sticks around, see a healthcare professional to get it sorted.
Hamstring strains occur when you overstretch or tear the muscles along the back of your thigh. It’s a common sports injury, especially in activities that involve sprinting or jumping.
Ever seen a soccer or basketball player suddenly pull up and grab the back of their leg? Probably a hamstring strain.
You will typically feel a sudden sharp pain, and might even hear or feel a “pop”. It can put you on the bench for a bit, but with some rest, ice, and physical therapy, most people can get back in the game before too long!
A knee sprain occurs when one or more of the ligaments in your knee gets overstretched or torn. In sports, this can happen with a hard hit, a bad landing, or a sudden twist.
You might experience pain, swelling, maybe even a popping sound at the time of the injury. Not to forget the instability — it might feel like your knee could give way when you put weight on it.
Don’t push through it, though! Rest up, put some ice on it, and see a physician if it doesn’t get better. They will recommend physical therapy or, in severe cases, surgery.
Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome
Patellofemoral pain syndrome, or runner’s knee, is a fancy name for pain in the front of your knee and around your kneecap. It’s pretty common in people who love to run, jump, or squat a lot.
This condition often occurs because your kneecap is not sliding smoothly in the groove at the end of your thigh bone. The knee pain worsens when going up or down stairs, kneeling, or sitting with your knee bent for a long time.
Fortunately, with rest, physiotherapy and a few tweaks to your workout, athletes can effectively manage this condition!
Rotator Cuff Injuries
Rotator cuff injuries occur when any of the four muscles and tendons that make up your rotator cuff are injured — the part of your shoulder that helps you lift and rotate your arm.
Athletes who do a lot of overhead action, like swimmers or baseball pitchers, are the ones who usually get hit with such injuries.
They can feel like a dull ache deep in your shoulder and might disturb your sleep, especially if you lie on the affected side. Even everyday things like combing your hair or putting on a shirt might even feel like you’re trying to win an Olympic gold medal.
It’s a real drag, but with some rest and the right treatment, it’s something you can bounce back from!
Shoulder injuries in athletes often happen due to a lot of repetitive, overhead motions. Think swimming, tennis, pitching in baseball — all of these can lead to shoulder issues. These injuries usually involve the muscles, ligaments, and tendons, rather than the bones.
Athletes are at risk for shoulder injuries like strains, sprains, dislocations, and conditions like rotator cuff injury or bursitis.
Symptoms include pain (especially when moving the shoulder), stiffness, swelling, and loss of mobility.
Sciatica is basically a pain party that your body throws, starting from your lower back and shooting down through your butt and legs. It’s caused by irritation or compression of your sciatic nerve, which runs all the way from your lower spine to your feet.
Athletes experience sciatica pain from heavy lifting, bending, or direct impact injuries. The pain can be quite sharp and even cause numbness or tingling.
Treatment often involves rest, physical therapy, and sometimes pain management. Most athletes feel better over time, but severe cases require more intensive care. Always good to get it checked out if you’re hurting!
Shin splints, or medial tibial stress syndrome, occur when your shins throw a fit after you’ve been running or jumping a lot. It’s this nagging pain along the inner part of your shinbone (the big bone on the front of your lower leg).
Shin splints are common, especially among runners, dancers, or folks in military training. Usually, it’s a sign that you’ve been overdoing it and your muscles, tendons, and bone tissue are under too much stress.
Giving your legs some well-deserved rest, icing the area, and doing some specific exercises often help calm things down. If the pain keeps hanging around, it’s best to get it checked out by a healthcare professional.
Tennis elbow, or lateral epicondylitis, is a common injury among athletes. It’s basically a muscle strain injury usually caused by damage to the tendons that attach the forearm muscles to the elbow joint, leading to pain around the outside of the elbow.
Despite its name, it’s not just tennis players who get it. Anyone performing a lot of repetitive gripping activities, especially if they use the thumb and first two fingers, can develop tennis elbow.
How to Prevent Sports Injuries
Sports injuries can really put a damper on your fun, so it’s essential to take steps to avoid them.
Here’s what you can do to stay safe during games or practice:
- Warm up before you start: Don’t go from 0 to 100 in a second! Your body needs a heads-up that you’re about to get active. A good warm-up includes light jogging, jumping jacks, or dynamic stretches.
- Don’t skimp on the cool down: Just like you need to gear up before you start, it’s equally important to wind down when you finish.
- Stretch, stretch, stretch: Flexibility is crucial in preventing injuries. Regularly stretching keeps your muscles loose and ready for action.
- Gear up: Always use the right equipment for your sport. Whether it’s a helmet, shin guards, or the right shoes, every bit of equipment plays a role in keeping you safe.
- Mix it up: Don’t overuse one set of muscles. Cross-training will keep all your muscles in shape and prevent overuse injuries.
- Know your limits: Listen to your body! If something hurts, take a break.
- Hydrate: Drinking plenty of water keeps your muscles hydrated and less prone to injury.
- Get a physical: Regular check-ups can spot potential red flags before they become serious.
- Learn the right technique: Especially for activities like lifting weights, proper form is critical to sports injury prevention.
Learn More About Sports Injury Prevention With Dr. Doerr!
At Bergen Chiropractic and Sports Rehabilitation Center, our chiropractic team, under the leadership of Dr. Gregory Doerr, adheres to the highest and most professional medical standards to provide superior chiropractic help. Our mission is to provide unparalleled patient care in a comfortable, healing atmosphere.
Access our contact form or call us at (201) 945-4075 to learn more about our chiropractic care services! Our offices at 532 Anderson Avenue, Cliffside Park, NJ 07010, and 62 Summit Ave, Hackensack, NJ 07601, are ready to welcome you as we proudly serve the areas of New York, New Jersey, Philadelphia, PA, and Baltimore, MD. Also, feel free to access our blog, Facebook, and Instagram pages for more information on chiropractic adjustments!
- “Rice Method for Injuries (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation).” WebMD, WebMD, www.webmd.com/first-aid/rice-method-injuries. Accessed 30 July 2023.