Football, basketball, soccer, cheerleading, baseball, softball, swimming, marching band, volleyball, track, dance, tennis, and golf are just a few of the athletic activities that we participate in on a day to day basis. Sports injuries can range from plantar fasciitis from running too much, patellar tendonitis from jumping, then all the way to a torn anterior cruciate ligament after sprinting for the game winning touchdown. As you can see, injuries are just a part of playing sports and if we play long enough, we will get hurt.
There are two types of sports injuries: overuse and trauma. Traumatic injuries such as bruises to fractures are most common in contact sports such as football, rugby, and soccer. Overuse injuries are due to repetitive stress of a certain tendon or muscle leading to tendonitis. The first phase of healing starts with inflammation which is characterized by pain, swelling, heat, and loss of motion or function. This inflammatory stage typically last 5-7 days. One of the most common treatments is R.I.C.E. (rest-ice-compression-elevation).
Proper training and preparation are the best ways to prevent a sports injury during the season. Strengthening your primary sports muscles and your core during the off-season is a big step. Making sure that your body is strong enough is key when playing sports. While in season, a warm-up program has been found to decrease injuries. First perform some type of aerobic activity like jogging or jumping jacks to get your heart rate elevated and get some blood pumping to all your muscles. Then, perform a series of static stretches of at least 30 seconds for 4 repetitions for each muscle. After participating in your sport, follow it by another round of static stretches. Another good tip in preventing an overuse injury is to make sure that you play different sports using different muscle groups. Doctors believe that fatigue is a contributing factor to most injuries. Stopping an activity at the first sign of fatigue can prevent most sports related injuries.
If injured, seek out the advice of your physician and a physical therapist to help minimize your down time. Physical therapists are the primary medical professional to seek after an injury for treatment and further prevention. Physical therapy treatments such as interferential stimulation, kinesiotaping, ultrasound, ice, and iontophoresis all accelerate the healing process. Using different pieces of exercise equipment such as a bicycle, eliptical, or swimming pool will also help to decrease the impact of most sports allowing your body to heal quicker.