As the fall sports season approaches, so does the inevitability that there will be at least a few bumps and bruises along the way. There are a number of common fall sports injuries, and many athletes don't actually know the severity of the issue. , about 30 million children and teens participate in sports each year, and from those people come about 3.5 million sports injuries!
At , we see clients suffering from sports-related injuries all too often. Our sports medicine specialists have over forty years of experience and can certainly provide plenty of care management tips. In this article, we'll be sharing a bit of that expertise!
Common Fall Sports Injuries
Before we can go into our tips for preventing sports injuries during the fall season, we should identify what some of these common sports injuries are.
Elbow injuries are common among athletes engaged in sports that involve repetitive motions of throwing or swinging, like baseball or tennis. These injuries may range from minor sprains and strains to more severe cases such as ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) injuries.
A shoulder injury might occur if you're participating in sports that involve overhead movements or contact. Meaning that football, swimming, and volleyball players are particularly at risk. Common shoulder injuries include rotator cuff tears, shoulder impingement, and shoulder dislocation.
Head injuries, particularly concussions, are a serious concern in many fall sports, especially for soccer and football players participating in contact sports. Concussions can result from a direct blow to the head or even a sudden, forceful movement of the body. Fall athletes suspected of having a concussion should immediately be removed from play and evaluated by a healthcare professional, as there may be a risk of brain injury.
Stress fractures are another common fall sports injury that athletes need to be cautious of. These occur when muscles become fatigued and are unable to absorb added shock. Eventually, the fatigued muscle transfers the overload of stress to the bone, causing a small crack known as a stress fracture.
Muscle strains, also known as pulled muscles, are another injury that athletes should be cautious of. They typically occur when a muscle is overstretched or torn, often due to fatigue, repetitive motion, or improper use of a muscle. Strains can happen in any muscle but they're most common in the lower back, neck, shoulders, and hamstrings.
A more severe, but unfortunately not uncommon injury in fall sports is an ACL tear. The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), one of the major ligaments in the knee, can get injured when an athlete suddenly stops, changes direction, or lands from a jump. If not treated properly, an ACL tear could potentially mean the end of an athlete's season, or even their career, emphasizing the importance of proper training and preventive measures.
Fall Sports Injury Prevention Tips
Speaking of preventative measures, it's time to switch the topic over to injury prevention. There is no magic, singular way to prevent sports injuries, but there are certainly actionable tips that can make your risk of injury far lower.
Take Care of Your Body
This might seem basic, but that doesn't make it any less important. The significance of a healthy diet is detrimental to the health of any athlete and is one of the pillars of sports safety.
Not only should you drink plenty of water and have a balanced diet, but you must consider the kind of sports you participate in. Cardio-heavy activities will require high amounts of carbohydrates and proteins, so adjust accordingly. Playing sports consistently takes a lot out of a person!
Don't underestimate the importance of proper equipment! Things like helmets and mouthguards aren't just fun suggestions, they are critical elements to properly playing sports. If you're looking to prevent injuries this sports season, you need to begin by ensuring that you have the right set of tools with you at all times.
Know When To Take A Moment
No one wants to get off the field in the middle of a good game. But, in the end, your body is far more important than that last point. You must know when to take a break, even if it's a long break, without feeling as though you're doing something wrong.
Not only will your athletic performance suffer once you over-exert yourself, but your health will suffer too. Overuse injuries are very common kinds of fall sports injuries, and unfortunately, they're some of the most avoidable!
Properly Warm Up
Warming up before practice or a game is just as important as cooling down afterward. Warming up your body helps prepare it for the physical demands of the game and prevents more injury in the long run. A proper warm-up routine should consist of stretching, dynamic exercises, and practice drills (depending on the sport). This kind of proper technique can help avoid tight muscles and other common injuries that come with a lack of preparation for physical activity.
Participate In Other Kinds of Activities
Participating in sports is fantastic, but if you don't have rest periods that give you time to concentrate on the other fantastic things that life brings, you can find yourself very quickly becoming subjected to mental burnout. Too much of a good thing is, unfortunately, never a good thing! If you have a mindset that is full of overwhelm, it does nothing for injury prevention and can lead to an increased risk of overuse injuries.
When To Worry About Sports Injuries
There is, unfortunately, only so much one can do as far as preventing sports injuries. When the time arises that you feel as though something is wrong, it's important to know when it's time for a break or time to seek medical attention.
Strong or Persistent Pain
Pain is a sign that something is wrong. If you experience pain during or after physical activity, it's important to pay attention and take the necessary steps toward proper care. Before engaging in any physical activity, make sure to warm up your muscles and joints properly to prevent strain and injury.
Many injuries will prove painful, especially if you participate primarily in contact sports, but there is a stark difference between the traditional pain of physical activity versus the severe pain of an injury. When in doubt, listen to your body and the signs it is giving you.
Don't Let It Get Worse
When it comes to sports injuries, rest and ice are your best friends. The earlier you take the necessary steps to manage your pain, the better off you'll be. Letting an injury get worse not only puts more stress on your body but also sets you back in terms of recovery time.
Physical Therapy and Proper Treatment Can Help
Facing a sports injury during the fall season might be a possibility, but there's no need to worry- proper care is always available, and modern sports medicine has achieved a great deal.