Spring has sprung! With the weather getting nicer, athletes can finally get outside again to play their favorite sport. However, before you lace up your shoes and head out, it’s important to be aware of common spring sports injuries and how to avoid them. By being proactive and taking precautions, you can help reduce your risk of these injuries and stay safe while playing.
Sprains and Strains
Sprains and strains have similar names, but they affect different parts of the body. In particular, sprains occur when the ligaments are stretched or torn, while strains occur when the muscles or tendons are stretched or torn. Both types of injuries can be caused by overuse, repetitive motion, or sudden trauma, and both can be painful and cause swelling, bruising, and stiffness.
One of the best ways to prevent sprains and strains when playing spring sports is to make sure you warm up properly beforehand. A good warm-up will help loosen your muscles and joints, reducing your risk of injury. Using proper gear is also important—make sure to wear supportive shoes that fit well, as well as protective padding if you’re playing a contact sport. However, if you do start to feel pain while playing, stop immediately and ice the affected area. Don't try to “walk it off”—this will only make the injury worse.
If you take all the necessary precautions but get injured anyway, visit Performance UNLIMITED. Physical therapy can help improve the injured area’s range of motion, reduce pain, and promote healing. Your physical therapist may use a variety of techniques, including stretching, strengthening exercises, or massage. With the help of physical therapy, many people are able to recover from sprains and strains and return to their normal activities faster.
Tendonitis is a common condition that occurs when the tendons, or the tissues that connect muscles to bone, become inflamed. Though any tendon can become inflamed, athletes most commonly experience this condition in the shoulder, elbow, or knee. In fact, you may be more familiar with these injuries’ more common names, like “pitcher’s shoulder,” “tennis elbow,” or “jumper’s knee.”
Like sprains and strains, a great way to prevent tendonitis is by warming up before playing and stopping if you feel pain. In addition, proper form can go a long way in preventing tendonitis. No matter your sport of choice, make sure to check your form every once in a while, and if necessary, work with a coach, trainer, or physical therapist to make sure you’re not putting your body in danger. In fact, by teaching you proper mechanics and techniques, a physical therapist can help you avoid developing tendonitis in the first place, or if you already have it, they can help you from developing it again.
A stress fracture is a small crack in a bone that occurs due to repetitive stress or overuse. This type of injury is typically seen in the legs and feet, and it can be extremely painful. While anyone can suffer from a stress fracture, they’re most commonly seen in athletes who participate in high-impact sports that require a lot of running and jumping. High-impact sports tend to put a lot of strain on the bones, causing them to crack over time.
Stress fractures, if not diagnosed and treated early, can become a full-blown break. This means that getting immediate medical attention if you think you have a stress fracture is incredibly important, and it also makes taking precautions all the more necessary. As always, it’s important to warm up properly before playing. On top of that, you should make sure you’re wearing shoes that fit properly and give your feet enough support.
If you do suffer a stress fracture, you’ll need to be especially careful going forward. Make sure to listen to your bodies and take breaks when necessary in order to prevent further damage. You may also want to visit a physical therapist who can help you recover your strength, range of motion, and flexibility, getting you back in the game sooner.
Perhaps the most serious of these injuries, a herniated disc is caused by the cushion-like cartilage (or disc) between the vertebrae of the spine tearing, causing its inner layer to bulge out. This can put pressure on nearby nerves and cause pain, numbness, or weakness. Many activities can lead to a herniated disc for an athlete, but they are most often caused by repetitive motions or sudden impact.
As with all of the above injuries, warming up properly, using the right equipment, and monitoring your form are all good preventative measures. In addition, it may also be important to strengthen your core muscles, which will help support your spine.
Herniated discs can be very painful and may require surgery to correct. However, many people are able to find relief with nonsurgical treatments like physical therapy, which can help to stretch and strengthen the muscles around the disc. This helps to support the spine, relieve pressure on the discs, and reduce pain. A physical therapist can also teach you how to properly care for your back so that you can prevent further damage.
Injuries are a common occurrence in athletes, but that doesn’t mean they’re unavoidable. By being aware of the most common injuries and taking the necessary precautions, you can help keep yourself safe when playing your favorite sport this spring.
If you experience an injury, pain, or discomfort when participating in your favorite sport this spring, make sure to visit the physical therapists at Performance UNLIMITED. Schedule an appointment online to take control of your recovery.