There seems to be no limits to the benefits of sports. In addition to providing your body with much needed physical exercise, sports help foster a sense of camaraderie among team members. As an added bonus, participating in sports can release a bevy of endorphins, serving to boost your self-esteem and overall mood. When reviewing all the positive influences sports can have on your life, it seems as if playing a sport has no discernable downside.
Unfortunately, this view ignores a frequent problem that often sidelines (if not completely ends) the careers of many professional athletes – sports injuries. Many sporting events require participants to push their bodies to the max, as athletes use all of their available talents in an attempt to will their teams to victory. As you may expect, these efforts place a demanding burden on the human body, to the point where the body physically breaks under the pressure of competition. You only need to skin through the sports section of your favorite newspaper to learn how commonplace injuries are in the arena of professional sports.
This risk doesn’t just apply to professional athletes; participants in amateur sporting events can also fall victim to troublesome and potentially chronic injuries. Unforeseen injuries can happen in a flash; a sudden sharp turn, an accidental collision or an awkward can lead to sprained muscles, torn tissues, chronic pain and fractured bones. Whether you are an aspiring professional athlete, or simply enjoy engaging in recreation sporting activities with friends, it is highly advisable to be aware of the most common sports-related injuries and the ways to prevent them.
Below is a list of the more notorious sports injuries, complete with a detailed description of how these injuries impact the body. Like many other medical problems, these injuries can be avoided by taken the proper precautions.
Ankle Sprains – If you follow professional basketball, you’ve doubtlessly heard about a star player spraining his ankle. Ankle sprains are nothing to sneeze at, as particularly nasty sprains can put athletes out of commission for up to several weeks. An ankle becomes sprained when muscle ligaments surrounding the ankle are stretched and/or torn (ligaments are tissues that connect bones together). A pesky and stubbornly persistent injury, ankle sprains usually occur when the athlete’s ankle and foot rapidly move in different directions. For example, a football player might wind up with a sprained ankle if his foot is pushed outward, yet his ankle rolls inward.
Given that ankle sprains are sort of a “freak” injury, they can be fairly difficult to prevent. Despite this obstacle, you can help guard your ankles against sprains by doing ankle lifts, an exercise that can be performed on stairs. It is also common practice for basketball and football players to tape their ankles before games. This keeps the ankle and foot stable, helping to prevent them from being pulled in opposing directions.
Should you find yourself with a sprained ankle, doctors frequently recommend the RICE treatment – rest, ice, compression and elevate. The first step is fairly straight forward, as patients are advised to place minimal pressure on sprained ankles for 48 hours after sustaining the injury. During this same time period, patients are also encouraged to ice their bad ankles, usually for about 20 minutes at a time. The icing process should be repeated every 3 to 4 hours. Compressing a sprained ankle involves wrapping the ankle with an Ace bandage, from the toes up to the top of the calf muscle. Finally, an ankle can be elevated by simply propping it up, to the point where it is above your heart. If you are lying on your bed, this can be accomplished rather easily by resting your ankle on a stack of books.
Achilles Tendonitis – In Greek mythology, the legendary warrior Achilles was impervious to all attacks – except to those directed at his ankles. In honor of this famous literary character, the tendon which connects the heel bone to the lower calf muscle is known medically as the Achilles tendon. As you can expect, athletes ask a lot from their Achilles tendons, using them for repeated running and jumping. In some cases, athletes simply go the well one time too many; if the Achilles tendon is overburdened, it can develop Achilles Tendonitis, a condition which causes the tendon to become inflamed and painful.
If you are worried about developing Achilles Tendonitis, or have struggled with this condition in the past, consider borrowing a page from the ankle sprain prevention playbook. In other words, you can strengthen your calf muscles by regular performing certain exercises. Standing calf raises, seated calf raises and leg press calf raises should fit the bill nicely; not only are these techniques effective for building up calf muscle, but they also can be performed relatively easily. To recover from a bout of Achilles Tendonitis, simply employ the RICE approach.
Concussions – Football and hockey players know the effects of concussions all too well. Concussions occur when an athlete suffers a significant blow to the head, causing the brain to literally be shaken around inside the skull. The fallout from a concussion is instantaneous; patients usually complain of blurred vision, disorientation, blurred vision, loss of memory, nausea, loss of balance and an inability to concentrate.
The recommended treatment for concussions is markedly straightforward – a patient simply needs to rest for a significant amount of time. The length of this rest period depends on the severity of the concussion; minor concussions may only require a week’s worth of rest, while those with major concussions may take months to recover. Patients often take acetaminophen (sold under the brand name Tylenol) to help speed recovery, although it is always wise to consult with your doctor before taking any medications.
By their nature, contact sports are just that – sports that involve body-crushing psychical contact. Because of this, there is no way to completely avoid concussions while playing contact sports. If you are especially concerned about suffering a concussion, or have experienced multiple concussions in the past, consider switching to sports that do require little to no contact with opposing players, such as baseball, basketball and tennis.
Strained Groin Muscles – While they might not get quite as much attention as concussions and ankle sprains, strained groin muscles are a persistent foe for professional and amateur athletes alike. As with the aforementioned injuries, a strained groin is felt throughout the day, and also limits your physical capabilities.
If you play a sport that requires a good deal of running, you may stand an elevated chance of injuring your groin muscles. People who play basketball, hockey or football report strained groin muscles at a higher clip than the general populace, usually incurring the injury after sharply changing directions while running. A number of exercises, such as sumo squats, side lunges and adductor leg raises can bolster your groin muscles, thereby reducing your chances of suffering groin strains.
Shin Splints – Shin splints may sound like a quirky and inconsequential injury, but they are no laughing matter to those who experience them firsthand. The phrase “shin splints” is sort of a catch-all term, used to describe pain that is felt between the patient’s knees and ankles. This pain typically flares up after the patient engages in an athletic activity, and is often accompanied by inflammation of the shinbone’s surrounding muscles.
Unlike the other conditions on this list, which tend to strike those who frequently participate in athletic competitions, shin splints often afflict people who are not used to prolonged physical activity. Many people begin exercise routines with the best intentions, but wind up overburdening themselves with unrealistic goals and expectations. Essentially, these former couch potatoes wind up doing too much too fast, and their shins suffer as a result.
So how can exercise novices avoid shin splints? First, make sure you have the proper workout attire. Specifically, invest in a new pair of sneakers; beat up sneakers can often lead to shin splints, as they fail to adequately support the body’s lower legs. Second, ease into your new exercise regimen, and seek input from those who frequently exercise. You will also likely benefit from exercising a variety of muscle groups in your regular workouts (this is commonly referred to as cross-training). For treatment, try icing your shins, and ask your doctor about anti-inflammation medications.
Pulled Muscles – Who hasn’t pulled a muscle at one point or another? While anyone can pull a muscle, people who fail to warm up properly before exercising are especially susceptible to this injury. In addition, people of all stripes are more likely to pull muscles when they are fatigued, and a lack of flexibility can also cause muscle pulls. The muscles that are most frequently pulled are hamstrings and the calf muscles.
Pulled muscles are hardly inevitable. Before working out, many athletes perform a variety of warm-up exercises, which get your muscles ready for physical activity. If you are a member of a local gym, ask an employee about warm up routines that protect your muscles against injury. Aside from warming up, it goes without saying that it’s a bad idea to exercise if you’re feeling tired. Rather than trying to workout on a low tank of gas, postpone your workout until you have replenished your body’s supply of energy.
Lower Back Pain – Lower back pain encompasses a wide range of ailments, including bulging disks, back spasms and sciatica (a condition that causes noticeable pain from the back down through the leg). As with shin splints, lower back pain often stems from a failure to warm up before working out. Below are some exercises that you can use to guard your back against injury:
Side Bends– This one is pretty self explanatory. Begin by standing up straight, with your arms hanging by your sides. Slowly lower your right hand towards the floor. Allow the right side of your torso to bend in tandem with your hand. When your right hand can proceed no further, steadily lift your right hand/arm back into your starting position. Repeat the same process with your left arm.
Trunk Rotations – Chances are, you probably think of trees when you hear the word “trunk.” In this case, the term “trunk” refers to your torso. Place your legs shoulder length apart, with your knees slightly bent. Put your hands on your hips, and proceed to tighten your abdominal muscles. With these steps complete, begin to twist your body to the right. Once you have turned as far as you can go, reverse directions and return to your starting point. Repeat the same process on the left side on your body. Keep in mind that trunk rotations should be performed with the use of your hips. Using your shoulders to create extra momentum is considered cheating.
Prone Trunk Rotations – Unlike the previous exercise, prone trunk rotations are performed while lying on the floor. With your back lying prone on the floor, tuck your legs inward, and turn the palms of your hands up to the ceiling. Tighten your buttocks muscles, and place your arms by the sides of your body. Performing a prone trunk rotation is simple; simply lift your head and shoulders. Stop lifting when you start to feel tension in your lower back. Hold this position for five seconds before slowly lowering yourself back to the mat. Repeat this process until you have completed 10 repetitions.
The proceeding article was written by an employee of Natural Knowledge 24/7