Sports Injuries

Menstuff® has compiled the following information on sports injuries.

Top 10 most common sports injuries
The Super Bowl Overshadowed A Disturbing New Study Of Youth Football

Top 10 most common sports injuries

There are hundreds of different sports injuries, but there are certain parts of the body that are more prone to damage than others.

In fact, the top three categories comprise more than 80 percent of all sports injuries. Read on to find out which injuries are most common, as well as ways to prevent and treat these ailments.

10. Achilles tendonitis

When the tendon at the back of the ankle — the Achilles tendon — is overused, inflammation and pain can occur, which is known as acute Achilles tendonitis. If this condition is left untreated, it can become chronic and the injury can worsen until it becomes impossible to run. Achilles tendonitis is most common among runners and athletes who participate in sports that involve running or jumping.

Prevention and treatment: Stretching and strengthening exercises for the calf muscles can help prevent injury to the Achilles tendon. Rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE), an anti-inflammatory medication, and strengthening your calf muscles are your best treatment options. Do not resume sports until the injury is completely healed or it may become a chronic condition.

9. Concussion

A concussion is an injury to the brain that is usually the result of a blow to the head. Symptoms include disorientation, vision disturbance, headache, dizziness, amnesia, loss of balance, difficulty concentrating, and nausea. A concussion does not necessarily involve a loss of consciousness. Concussions are most common in contact sports, such as football, boxing, hockey, and soccer. However, they also occur in sports like skiing and gymnastics. While most people return to normal a few weeks or months after a concussion, multiple concussions can cause permanent damage.

Prevention and treatment: The best way to prevent concussion is to avoid contact sports, but that may not be a viable option for many people. Treating a concussion simply involves resting, although you can take acetaminophen (Tylenol) if you have a headache. Depending on the severity of your concussion, you will have to refrain from playing contact sports for a few hours to a few months. Returning to play too quickly could result in second impact syndrome, a potentially fatal condition.

8. Groin strain

A strained groin or adductor muscles — the fan-like muscles situated in the upper thigh that serve to pull the legs together — usually happens when you suddenly change directions while running, such as in soccer, hockey, basketball, racket sports, football, and volleyball. Symptoms include sharp pain, swelling and sometimes even bruising on the inside of the thigh.

Prevention and treatment: As with most sports injuries, the best way to prevent a groin pull is to stretch properly before exercising. Also, gradually increasing the intensity of the activity rather than jumping into the activity too quickly may help prevent injury, and strengthening the groin muscles can be helpful too. RICE, combined with anti-inflammatory medications, is the best treatment plan. Don't do anything too strenuous for a week or two after the injury, and when you do resume exercising, apply ice to the affected area after your workout until healed. When you are feeling better, start a stretching and strengthening program.

7. Shin splints

Shin splints refer to pain on the inner side of the shinbone caused by inflammation of the muscles that surround it. They often affect people who aren't used to exercising; they can be caused by increasing the intensity of your workout too fast, wearing worn-out shoes or by jumping or running on hard ground.

Prevention and treatment: Wearing good shoes, cross training, stretching, and not increasing workout intensity too quickly are the best preventive measures. As for treatment, ice, stretching and anti-inflammatory medications are your best bets.

6. Lower back pain

Although lower-back pain is much less common among athletes than among sedentary and overweight people, it can affect runners, cyclists, golfers, tennis, and baseball players. While there are many types of lower-back pain — bulging discs, back spasms, and pain reaching down the leg from the lower back, known as sciatica — the most common reason for sports-related back pain is simply improper stretching. In the case of runners, having even the slightest discrepancy in leg length can cause back pain.

Prevention and treatment: Although some lower-back injuries cannot be prevented, warming up properly before exercising will greatly reduce your risk of injury. While bulging discs and sciatica require fast medical treatment, you can treat a simple muscle pull or back spasm yourself with RICE, anti-inflammatory medication and stretching. Runners with a difference in leg length can get orthotic lifts from a podiatrist to correct the problem.

5. Pulled muscle

Not warming up properly, fatigue, lack of flexibility, and weakness can cause all types of athletes to pull a muscle. The most commonly pulled muscles are hamstrings (especially in sports involving running, such as jogging, basketball and soccer) and calves (particularly in older tennis players). The hamstrings are the muscles behind your thighs; pulling them is painful and can even cause bruising. While these are the most common, you can pull many different muscles depending on the sport you are performing.

Prevention and treatment: The best way to prevent pulling a muscle is to stretch properly before and after exercising, and avoid working out when you are fatigued and weak. As with most injuries, RICE and anti-inflammatory drugs are helpful, as well as gentle stretches. When the injury has begun to heal, you can begin exercising again, but stop every so often during your workout to stretch until you are completely healed.

4. Tennis or golf elbow

Elbow injuries account for 7 percent of all sports injuries. Tennis elbow consists of tendon degeneration in the elbow due to repeated backhand strokes in tennis. It causes pain on the outside of the elbow. Golf elbow, on the other hand, usually affects the inside of the elbow, although it can sometimes attack the outside. The pain experienced is a result of an inflammation of the epicondyle, the area on the inside of the elbow where the forearm-flexing muscles attach to the upper arm.

Prevention and treatment: The best way to prevent these ailments is to perform forearm-strengthening exercises, such as wrist curls, reverse wrist curls and squeezing a soft rubber ball. Also, improving your swing technique and wearing an elbow brace can be very helpful. Treatment can be as simple as RICE and anti-inflammatory medications, but in some cases physiotherapy and a prolonged break from the sport may be necessary.

3. Ankle sprain

Ankle sprains are very common among soccer, hockey, basketball, and volleyball players. They are almost inevitable in sports that involve jumping, running and turning quickly; these movements can lead to twisting the ankle and even possibly tearing a tendon or ligament. An X-ray can rule out the possibility of a fracture.

Prevention and treatment: Strengthening your ankles by doing exercises such as ankle lifts on stairs, as well as taping the ankle or wearing a lace-up brace can help, but these measures in no way guarantee that you won't be injured if you fall hard or make a false movement. Treat an ankle sprain with RICE and anti-inflammatory drugs, but don't rest it excessively for more than a day. To help your ankle heal faster, you should try to move your ankle gently to get the circulation going and reduce swelling.

2. Shoulder injury

About 20 percent of sports injuries involve the shoulder, including dislocations, sprains and strains. Shoulder injuries are most common in tennis, swimming, weightlifting, baseball, and volleyball — basically, any sport that involves a lot of overhead movement. These problems are generally due to overuse, which loosens the rotator cuff — the group of tendons and muscles that surround the shoulder. Symptoms include pain, stiffness, and weakness and slipping in the shoulder.

Prevention and treatment: To prevent shoulder injuries — which often occur when you haven't been using your shoulder muscles for a while, such as during your baseball league's off-season — be sure to strengthen your muscles through weight training before the season begins. If you do injure yourself, RICE and an anti-inflammatory medication are your best treatment options.

1. Runner's knee

Knee injuries comprise about 55 percent of all sports injuries and approximately one-fourth of all problems treated by orthopedic surgeons. Although torn ligaments and cartilage are the most common injuries, many knee problems are grouped into the category of "runner's knee," which includes a variety of aches and pains related to the kneecap. Runners are not the only victims of such injuries; they also strike cyclists, swimmers, people who practice step aerobics, and football, basketball, and volleyball players. Runner's knee occurs when overuse leads to irritation of the tendon below the kneecap or when the region underneath the kneecap is worn or afflicted with arthritis.

Prevention and treatment: Replace shoes and insoles regularly; choose a softer running surface such as an indoor track rather than hard pavement; strengthen your quadriceps through weight training; take more rest days between workouts; and cross train to prevent overuse. If you injure your knee, don't exercise for at least two days and take an anti-inflammatory medication. When you resume your workout, make sure to warm up properly and apply ice to your knee for about 20 minutes afterward.

Prevention is key

Many sports injuries are due to an improper warm-up or stretching routine or because the level of intensity of the workout was increased too quickly. Therefore, the best way to avoid sports injuries that can keep you out of the game for weeks or months is to stretch adequately before and after your workout, and to pace yourself according to your level of skill and experience in the sport.

The Super Bowl Overshadowed A Disturbing New Study Of Youth Football

NFL fans have been occupied with deflated footballs, Marshawn Lynch quotables and Russell Wilson interceptions over the past couple of weeks. So it’s excusable if they overlooked a study published last week that suggested a link between youth football and the deteriorating minds of former NFL players.

Among the former pros examined in the study, those who played tackle football before the age of 12 were significantly more likely than those who did not to suffer from notable cognitive issues later in life.

The study, conducted by researchers at the Boston University School of Medicine and published in the peer-reviewed medical journal Neurology, tested 42 former NFL players who had complained of "cognitive, behavioral, and mood symptoms" within the past six months. Half had started playing tackle football before age 12; half began at age 12 or older.

The researchers found that those who had played football before age 12 performed "significantly worse" on tests of decision-making, problem-solving, memory and verbal IQ.

"They were worse on all the tests we looked at," Dr. Robert Stern, the senior author of the study and a professor of neurology and neurosurgery, told ESPN. "They had problems learning and remembering lists of words. They had problems with being flexible in their decision-making and problem-solving."

Other research has suggested that the effects of concussions last longer in young teens than they do in young adults. Yet children under the age of 14 constitute roughly 70 percent of all football players in the country, and children between the ages of 9 and 12 who play tackle football experience an average of 240 hits to the head during a typical season, according to previous research cited in the new study.

Because the Boston University study focused only on former NFL players, the authors cautioned against applying its conclusions to the population at large. But they did urge additional research into the effect of youth football on all who play it, not just those who go on to have professional careers.

"It does make sense that children whose brains are rapidly developing should not be banging their head again and again," said Julie Stamm, a Ph.D. candidate in neurobiology and another author of the new study.

Pop Warner, the largest youth football program in the country, states on its website that its injury rate is "one-third the injury rate in high school football (AND) less than one-fifth the injury rate in college football (AND) less than one-ninth the injury rate in professional football."

In a statement provided to The Huffington Post, Pop Warner Executive Director Jon Butler emphasized that the nonprofit organization has improved its safety guidelines as the long-term effects of concussion-related injuries have become more clear.

"Over the last five years, Pop Warner has established protocols and rule changes aimed at improving coaching education, limiting contact and requiring a player who suffers a potential head injury to see a medical professional before returning to play," he said. "We will continue to work with medical professionals and researchers to identify safety approaches that allow players to enjoy the game."

The NFL did not immediately return a request for comment from HuffPost.

Speaking to ESPN’s "Outside the Lines," Dr. Julian Bailes, Pop Warner Football’s top medical officer, argued that the new study was "flawed" because of its small sample size. He additionally said that "cumulative exposure" over time is more likely than the age of first exposure to tackle football to explain some NFL players’ cognitive issues.

Stern, the study's senior author, pushed back against Bailes’ criticism in the ESPN article, saying that the men in the two groups of NFL players studied had suffered similar numbers of concussions and spent similar numbers of years playing tackle football.

Concern about football-related concussions does seem to be spreading. A Bloomberg poll from late last year found that 50 percent of Americans surveyed would not want their son to play tackle football. The previous year, ESPN reported that Pop Warner had experienced a 9.5 percent drop in participation between 2010 and 2012. Pop Warner spokesman Josh Pruce has said that participation has leveled off since then.

The authors of the study told HuffPost that the point was not to discourage children from playing sports, but to question some of the ways in which they play it.

"One thing I really want to emphasize is that we really have great hope for youth sports," Stamm told HuffPost. "We really think it’s important for kids to participate in youth sports." But she added, "We just want these children to play these sports safely."

The former NFL players in the study were between the ages of 40 and 69. All had played a minimum of two years in the NFL and 12 years of organized football. The survey was funded by the National Institutes of Health. Participants’ travel was paid for by JetBlue Airlines, the NFL and the NFL Players Association.

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