…and how to prevent them
Getting outside and moving around is a great way to stay healthy and enjoy the onset of warmer weather—particularly after a long winter spent mostly indoors. However, this time of year we begin to see a significant increase in sports-related injuries at ConvenientMD. Over 3.5 million children age 14 and younger get hurt annually playing sports or by participating in recreational activities; high school athletes account for an estimated 2 million injuries, 500,000 doctor visits and 30,000 hospitalizations each year. While athletes recover from most sports injuries fairly quickly, getting hurt could spell the end of the season for your athlete if the injury goes unaddressed.
Here are five of the most common outdoor sports injuries and tips for how to prevent them this season.
A sprain is an injury affecting the ligaments—tough bands of tissue which connect bones and joints—most often in the form of tears that result from excessive overstretching. Sprains typically occur as a result of quick twisting or otherwise awkward movement, including falls. Rest, ice, compression with an ace wrap and at times immobilizing with a splint while keeping the injury elevated can all help heal a sprain.
Strains occur when muscle fibers or tendons tear, usually as a result of sudden movements—they can also come from repetitive motion and are common amongst tennis players, golfers and field hockey players. A strain may lead to muscle spasms, swelling, cramping, and difficulty moving the affected area, which is typically confined to the legs, arms, neck and back. While occasionally surgery may be necessary for addressing severe strains, most will heal with rest, ice, elevation, and the use of crutches in certain cases.
Fractures are unfortunately quite common in contact sports and can be very painful. There are a variety of different types of fractures, which vary in terms of severity. These include:
- Bowing Fracture: The bone breaks but does not snap.
- Buckle Fracture: Commonly seen in children when one side of the bone buckles upon itself without disrupting the other side of the bone
- Comminuted Fracture: Occurs when a bone breaks into multiple pieces.
- Complete Fracture: A bone which breaks into distinct pieces.
- Greenstick Fracture: A type of fracture where only one side of the bone suffers a crack.
- Open Fracture: When a bone fragment pokes through the skin.
Even mild fractures should be considered a medical emergency requiring immediate treatment. A cast may be necessary to facilitate healing, and recovery times can be longer than those associated with many other types of sports injuries. Surgery may also be required to repair certain fractures.
4. Shin Splints
For runners or those who tend to remain in near-constant movement while playing sports, overuse injuries are very common and can be especially prevalent during the spring season. Shin splints are a type of overuse injury that causes pain in the legs due to muscles, bone tissue and tendons being overworked. Many athletes develop shin splints when intensifying their training regimen, and those who have high arches may be more likely to encounter shin splints during their athletic career than others.
Treatment for shin splints typically includes a combination of anti-inflammatory pain relievers, ice, elevation and rest.
Concussions occur when a blow to the head is suffered and are not uncommon in contact sports, including football, soccer and even baseball. Symptoms of concussion may include:
- Loss of consciousness
- Memory Loss
- Tinnitus – ringing in the ears
If a concussion is suspected, evaluation and treatment should be sought immediately to help reduce the possibility of complications, which could include short or long-term memory issues and changes in personality.
Injury Prevention Tips
While there is no way to completely protect against injury this season, there are a few things you can do to help prevent a potentially serious sports injury from occurring:
- Pre-workout Warm-up: Overuse issues and other preventable injuries are often the result of doing too much, too soon, without allowing the body a chance to acclimate to intense physical activity. Whether it’s a routine workout or a championship game, stretching and warming up for a half hour or longer beforehand can help increase blood flow to the muscles and aid in flexibility.
- Practice Proper Technique: Another major contributing factor to outdoor sports injuries is improper technique, which can affect practically any athlete, regardless of sport. Learning how to sprint properly or slide into second base without getting tripped up can help prevent some of the most common sports injuries
- Buy the Right Equipment: Worn and old sports gear may hold sentimental value, but if it’s no longer up to the task, it’s time to upgrade to new equipment in the interests of safety—especially protective equipment worn for contact sports.
- Stay Hydrated: Dehydration can negatively affect performance and lead to fatigue or overworking of the muscles, increasing the chances of injury. Be sure that you drink plenty of water before, during and after any physical activity.
- Know When to Stop: Pushing through pain or continuing to play sports while being injured can quickly lead to subsequent injuries and long recovery times. Knowing when to rest or take a break is essential to remaining active without getting injured.
Spring Sports Injury Treatment at ConvenientMD
Are you dealing with a sports related injury? Just walk into any ConvenientMD location in Massachusetts, New Hampshire or Maine, and our team of expert providers will help get your athlete back to good health so they can return to the field, court or track sooner rather than later. All of our clinics have x-ray capabilities right on site and are open 8am – 8pm, 7 days a week—you don’t ever have to make an appointment to be seen.