Playing sports is a great way to get the exercise you need while having fun and keeping up social connections. However, there are some common injuries that frequently occur while playing sports. If you play a sport, understanding what injuries are likely to occur from that sport can help you avoid them so you can keep playing longer.
A hip flexor strain is an injury to the muscles in your hip. Athletes who run, jump, and perform high knee kicks are prone to hip flexor strains. A hip flexor strain is a common injury in soccer players, dancers, football kickers, and cyclists. Symptoms of a hip strain can include:
- Sudden hip pain that can range from mild to severe
- Pain when lifting your leg to your chest or stretching the hip muscles
- Muscle spasms in the hip or thigh when you walk or run
- Bruising, tenderness, or swelling in the hip or thigh area
Knee injuries are one of the most common types of sports injuries. Your anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) runs diagonally in the middle of your knee. It keeps your lower leg bones in place and gives your knee stability. This sports injury is more common in sports such as soccer, football, and basketball. It can happen when you:
- Stop suddenly
- Slow down while running
- Land incorrectly after jumping
- Change direction suddenly
- Collide directly with something or someone
With an ACL tear, your knee may give out on you, and you may hear a popping noise. Other symptoms include:
- Discomfort walking
- Discomfort and tenderness along the joint line
- Pain and swelling
- Loss of full range of motion of your knee
A concussion is a traumatic brain injury (TBI) that occurs when the head moves back and forth rapidly. This can bruise your brain, tear blood vessels, or injure nerves. You may have symptoms immediately, but some may not show up for several hours or days afterward. Concussions can happen in the following sports:
- Football, during tackles
- Soccer, when you hit the ball with your head
- Hockey, when you get checked against the boards
- Skateboarding falls
- Bicycling falls
- Snowboarding or skiing collisions
Symptoms of a concussion can include:
- Pressure in your head
- Nausea or vomiting
- Blurred vision
- Being bothered by light or noise
In a groin pull or strain, one of the muscles of your inner thigh gets stretched, injured, or torn. Groin pulls are common in sports where you sprint or change direction suddenly, such as:
- Track and field, especially hurdling and long jumping
Shin splints are caused by inflammation around the muscles, tendons, or bone of your lower leg, the tibia. The pain usually occurs along the inner edge of your tibia. Shin splints often occur in running but can be caused by any vigorous physical activity. They are especially likely to happen if you're starting a new physical activity. Symptoms of shin splints include:
- Pain along the edge of your tibia that may be sharp or dull and throbbing
- Pain that is worse when you touch the area
- Pain that occurs during or after exercise
An ankle sprain happens when the ligaments that support your ankle get stretched too far or torn. Most ankle sprains occur when your foot is turned too far inward. Ankle sprains make up 25 percent of all sports injuries. They usually heal within 4 to 6 weeks, but severe sprains may take longer to heal. Symptoms of an ankle sprain can include:
- Trouble walking
A hamstring strain is a pulled muscle in the back of the thigh. Hamstring strains often occur in sports that require a lot of sprinting, such as track, soccer, and basketball. They occur more often in adolescent athletes because their bones may grow faster than their muscles. This uneven growth pulls the muscles tight. A hamstring injury may produce:
- Sudden, sharp pain in the back of your thigh
- Swelling in the first few hours after the injury
- Bruising in the back of your leg below the knee
- Weakness in your hamstring
This usually occurs in children between the ages of 8 and 15 but can occur in children up to 17. Little League elbow is an injury to the growth plate. It occurs in children because the growth plate is much weaker than the ligaments and muscles in children. Once the growth plate has fused, injuries to the muscles and ligaments are more common.
The symptoms of Little League elbow include pain and swelling on the inside of the elbow. The symptoms usually begin gradually, but sometimes a pop is felt. Symptoms may initially only be present when pitching, but they may progress to the point that any type of throwing causes pain.
A rotator cuff injury is a common overuse injury that's associated with sports that require overhead arm activities such as tennis, baseball, basketball, golf, and swimming. They can also occur as a result of falls or collisions in sports such as football, lacrosse, or ice hockey. Symptoms of a rotator cuff injury can include:
- Pain in your shoulder with the movement of your arm
- Aching pain at night and after using your shoulder
- Weakness with overhand activities
- Trouble sleeping due to pain
- Clicking or popping in your shoulder
- Limited motion of your shoulder due to pain or weakness
Patellofemoral syndrome is pain around the kneecap that often occurs in athletes, especially runners and jumpers. It can be caused by a sudden increase in the duration or intensity of exercise. Patellofemoral syndrome may have any of the following symptoms:
- Dull, aching pain in the front of your knee
- Pain during exercises or activities that require bending your knee
- Pain in the front of your knee after sitting for a long time
- Popping or cracking in your knee during use or after sitting
IMAGES PROVIDED BY:
- Getty Images
- Getty Images
- OrthoInfo: "Hip Strain."
- OrthoInfo: "Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) Injuries."
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): "Concussions Signs and Symptoms."
- Winchester Health: "Groin Strain."
- OrthoInfo: "Shin Splints."
- OrthoInfo: "Sprained Ankle."
- OrthoInfo: "Hamstring Muscle Injuries."
- Healthychildren.org: "Little League Elbow."
- UConn Health: "Rotator Cuff Tear."
- OrthoInfo: "Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome."