According to the latest statistics from the National Federation of State High School Association, nearly 8 million individuals participate in high school sports each year. Higher rates of athletic participation can only imply an increased risk for sport-related injuries.
Prevention is key
No matter the injury, proper conditioning prior to the sports season will decrease risk. The more fatigue an athlete experiences, the lesser the chance they have to react or move normally, which can lead to injury. Also, a proper warm-up and cool-down, including a light jog and dynamic exercises such as high knees, butt kicks and carioca, will increase blood flow to the muscles and allow for more mobility with activity. Below are three of the most common sport-related injuries and ideas on how to prevent them.
Have you ever jumped up for a rebound or to block a volleyball, and then landed on another player’s foot and felt a sharp pain in your ankle? Maybe you have stepped in a hole or planted to cut and felt your ankle twist. If any of these things happened to you, then you have likely suffered an ankle sprain.
An ankle sprain occurs when the ligaments that stabilize your ankle get stretched too far or tear. Ankle sprains most commonly occur to the ligaments on the outside of your ankle, but are not limited to those. There are three grades of ankle sprains:
There are three muscles in the back of your leg that make up your hamstring. A hamstring strain is caused by overstretching one, or all three muscles and can take months to heal if not taken care of properly. There are also three grades of hamstring strains:
Do your shins throb or ache after your daily run or during or after practice? If you feel pain in the front or inside of your lower leg after running activities you may be experiencing shin splints. Shin splints can also be referred to as medial tibial stress syndrome. The connective tissue that attaches the bone to the muscle gets inflamed and can become very painful at times.
In order to prevent shin splints, make sure you are easing into activity, and have proper conditioning leading up to your sports season. Runners who spend most of their time training on hard surfaces, like concrete, have a tendency to experience shin splints. Or athletes who are constantly changing playing surfaces (grass to turf, etc.) may be susceptible. Aside from preseason conditioning, proper shoe wear is very important. Make sure you have shoes that fit well and give you the correct support for your foot. Focus on strength training for core, hips and ankles, as well as stretching to ensure good lower extremity mobility.
For concerns about preventing sports injuries or treating injuries after they have occurred, speak with your primary care provider and ask for a referral to a rehab specialist.
By Nicole Anderson, ATC, MS, MOAS, ATR, Ridgeview Rehab Specialties
Medical and health information presented here is intended to be general in nature, and should not be viewed as a substitute for professional advice. Please consult with a health care professional for all matters relating to personal medical and health care issues. In case of an emergency, please call 911.