It can get tough when out on the field – especially when you’re not used to being there! You might have been a little rusty but kept going at it and ended up at the doctor’s office. But why does this happen? Our body is made up of all sorts of different organs, but the framework is made up of bones and muscles. Muscles are stretchy pieces of meat that make our bones move. But how do bones move? Bear with me; it’s science time.
You may have seen a skeleton. There are bones connected to more bones (through a strip called ligament), but bones also have muscles attached to them in all nicks and corners (through another strip called tendon). Every time these muscles move, they make not only bones, but other muscles move as well. So, the next time you’re shimmying in the club, you can thank your muscles!
If everything is so perfect, why do you end up hurting yourself? Well, have you ever seen a rubber band that has been stretched way out of limit? It tears. That’s also what happens to our muscles when we make movements that we – especially our muscles and bones – aren’t used to. Our muscles can get stretched, causing a strain, or if stretched beyond their limit, tear. Similarly, ligaments (the strips connecting two bones) can stretch too much to cause a sprain and eventually tear. It’s not just our soft tissue that can get damaged; our bones can get fractured too if we fall or lift something heavier than what we’re used to. Here are the nine most common sports injuries you need to keep in mind before you think about cranking the old shaft without warm-ups:
1. Ankle sprain: Now that we have science class out of the way, you’d be able to understand ankle sprains better. Say you’re playing basketball or soccer and you’re running, kicking and possibly stomping on each other’s feet, this is an ideal condition for an ankle sprain. You’re doing all sorts of movements where you can tear your ligaments. You should apply ice and rest your ankle immediately after the ankle sprain. If your ankle injury is more severe, you need to see a doctor it is common for a doctor to prescribe an ankle brace and crutches in to stabilize the ankle joint and reduce load weight on the injured ankle.
2. Achilles tendon injuries: So there’s this old Greek myth about a mother dipping her child in the river Styx to make her child super-strong, except that the baby’s heel never touched the water. That baby grew up to be a great warrior but was killed due to a heel wound. Sound impressive, right? Guess what; the Achilles tendon is real. We all have it. It connects the heel to the muscles that help us in walking. And it’s one of the most vulnerable parts of our body. If you’re thinking of jumping from pretty high up without proper equipment or practice, remember, you’re not jumping in the river Styx.
3. Knee injuries: Let’s get one thing straight, the knee isn’t one bone, it’s a junction of many bones held together by ligaments, tendons, and other fibrous cup-like capsules – it’s a joint. Bending your knee in the wrong direction or even over-bending it in the right direction can damage your knee joint. Your knee also happens to have a bone (patella) to cover the joint for protection, and it can fracture during intense sports. Rest and ice your injured knee make sure to get a quality knee brace for compression, stability, and support.
4. Muscle cramps: Your muscles run your body -literally – but even Beyoncé has a limit, know that your muscles do as well. In the case of overuse or use after a long period of underuse, your muscles can start hurting like hell. Like if your past time is lounging on the couch, don’t expect your body to run a marathon without suffering in pain afterward. Give your body some warmth and apply over-the-counter (OTC) topical painkillers, these usually come in easy-to-apply creams.
5. Tennis elbow: Did you know your elbow connects not two but three bones? The humerus (our upper arm) joins the ulna (the bone that’s aligned with the pinky) and the radius (in line with the thumb). When you use your arm too much (if you play the violin, tennis, or golf), your constant bending will make it inflamed, and it will ache (especially on the outside). If this happens, be sure to rest your arm, get a tennis elbow strap brace, avoid unnecessary movement, and take pain-killers for relief.
6. Fractures: Think of your bones as a pencil, it can do this and that while remaining erect but if someone applies too much force on it from both sides, it can break.
7. Groin pulls: The inside of our thighs are also muscles, and if we’re jumping or skating, chances are these adductor muscles can also be damaged. Most injuries just need time to heal, and it’s better to rest than walk with a questionable gait. Pain killers are your best friends if you have this. Apart from that, apply ice, compression and keep injured part elevated. Those with a previous groin pull are more likely to develop one again. The most common athletes to get groin strain are soccer players and ice hockey players. However, athletes in many sports can be at risk. This includes basketball, football, rugby, skating, tennis, and martial arts.
8. Rotator Cuff Injuries: The name might sound like something out of a video game, but it’s just a fancy name for our shoulder joint. See, the shoulder joint is pretty high in demand when it comes to performing life tasks – picking up socks, picking up plates, picking up grocery bags. Life is just a pickle, isn’t it? So, anyway, things are pretty heavy and so are our arms. If it weren’t for the rotator cuff (a literal cuff for the rotating limb, i.e. arm), they’d fall off every time we tried brushing our teeth. Imagine starting your day like that!
9. Shin splints: Just like the elbow joins three bones, the knee joint has femur at the top (thigh), tibia and fibula below, with patella covering this joint like a roof. The term “shin splints” refers to pain along the inner edge of the shinbone (tibia). Runners, dancers and military recruits are at high risk for having shin splint pain. Be sure to rest, apply ice and topical painkillers for relief.
These are the top nine sport injuries, remember to always stretch prior to doing any strenuous physical activity, wear the right gear, and play safe!