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Different Types of Sports Injuries & How to Prevent Them

Anyone can get sports injuries while playing sports or doing exercises. While children and teenagers are more prone to these injuries, they can occur in adults as well. Recent statistics from the U.S. Centers for Disease Prevention and Control show that about 8.6 million sports injuries affect American children and adults every year. Thus, taking the necessary precautions before a game or an exercise session can help you lower your risk of developing injuries.

Medical experts have identified various types of sports injuries, with each condition stemming from different causes and producing different symptoms. Let’s take a closer look at these injuries and how you can prevent and treat them.

What Causes a Sports Injury?

The following factors can cause sports injuries:

  • Inadequate training
  • Structural abnormalities (i.e. lumbar lordosis, patella alta, etc.)
  • Muscle, tendon, and ligament weakness
  • Unsafe exercising environments

Some risk factors can also lead to sports injuries in athletes and gym buffs. These factors include:

  • Age
  • Sex (female athletes are more prone to ACL injuries)
  • Body composition 
  • Previous injury
  • Skill level (i.e. technique, postural stability)
  • Psychological factors (i.e. motivation, perception of risk, competitiveness)

What are the Different Types of Sports-Related Injuries?

Sports injuries are either acute or chronic. You can get an acute injury while playing sports or exercising, and a chronic injury after months or years of play or exercise. Medical experts classify sports injuries under any of these categories.

Here’s a list of some of the most common sporting injuries:

Sprains & Strains

Sprains are the result of overstretched or torn ligaments. Any of these cases will determine whether you have a mild or severe sprain. You can get this injury from a fall or a twisting motion, and it can cause pain, swelling, and bruises. Plus, moving your joints can get painful when you have a sprain.

Meanwhile, strains stem from overstretched or torn muscles. Overextending your muscles causes these sports injuries. You can get strained muscles as you run, jump, lift, or instantly change direction. Strains often cause sudden pain and limited range of motion, but they can also produce bruises and swelling.


This sports injury is a form of back pain that typically runs down the back of your leg. But there are also cases in which the pain can reach your feet. Common symptoms of sciatica include:

  • Numbness
  • Burning sensations
  • Tingling below the leg

If you’re always in a flexed forward posture or if you’re excessively turning your trunk, you can be at risk for sciatica.

Patellofemoral Syndrome (Knee Pain)

Most sports injuries are knee injuries, including patellofemoral syndrome. Also known as knee pain, this condition can occur when you slip or fall on your knees. You can also experience knee pain if you have a swollen knee or an imbalanced muscle.

Normally, your kneecaps move inside the groove at the end of your femur. But if you fall and get a swollen knee, imbalance in the two major muscles that help track your kneecap can occur. This imbalance can lead to more swelling and more difficult tracking.

ACL Tear or Strain

As their names suggest, these sports injuries affect your knee’s anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). The ACL plays an extremely important role in keeping your knees steady, but injuries can have an impact on this ligament. ACL injuries involve torn ligaments in any of your knees.

ACL strains occur when you slow down and try cutting, pivoting, or changing directions. Meanwhile, ACL tears can cause you to go off-balance while walking or turning. You can even get a swollen knee from the injury.

Rotator Cuff Injuries

The muscles and tendons around your shoulders make up the rotator cuff. Your rotator cuffs help your shoulders move and stay in place. Repetitive movements typically cause rotator cuff injuries, with symptoms such as:

  • Swollen shoulders
  • Pain when lifting your arm or reaching behind your back
  • Disrupted sleeping schedules

While rotator cuff injuries mostly stem from repetitive motion, these conditions can also occur after a different injury. Age might increase your risk for rotator cuff injuries as well.

Bone Fractures

A fracture or broken bone occurs when you apply sudden force to one of your bones. As a result, the affected bone goes out of its socket. Fractures can vary in their appearance—some can have thin cracks and others can completely split.

If you have a possible fracture, look out for the following symptoms:

  • Sudden pain
  • Swelling
  • Numbness
  • Tenderness
  • Deformed structure
  • Limited range of motion


Dislocations are different from broken bones. When the ends of your bones go out of place, you get a dislocated joint. Dislocations happen in football, basketball, and other contact sports. These injuries can affect the following parts of your body:

  • Shoulders
  • Fingers
  • Elbows
  • Knees
  • Hips

Dislocations can cause intense pain, swelling in the affected area, and limited range of motion. Plus, it can create more complications such as:

  • Torn muscles, ligaments, and tendons
  • Damaged nerves or blood vessels
  • Increased risk of reinjury
  • Arthritis in the affected joint

Shin Splints

Inflamed muscles and tendons around the shin are the root cause of shin splints. Runners and basketball players often sustain these injuries, with a faster increase in their activities or mileage as the culprit.

Shin splints are characterized by pain in front of the lower leg. While patients may experience mild pain, some might stop playing sports when they feel intense pain. Other symptoms of shin splints include:

  • Pain while exercising
  • Pain on either side of the shin bone
  • Muscle pain
  • Swelling or soreness along the tibia’s inner part
  • Swollen lower leg
  • Numb and weak feet

Tennis Elbow

Tennis elbow occurs when you overuse your elbow. It’s a common injury among tennis players and golfers, with these individuals reporting pain on the elbow’s inner part. Repetitive movements inflame the tendons in your forearm, resulting in tennis elbow.

Along with inflamed tendons, this injury can cause highly painful wrist and hand movements. You might experience a weaker grip as well when you have tennis elbow.

How Can You Prevent Any Athletic Injury?

Whether you’re engaging in contact sports or performing simple exercises, you can avoid injury by following these tips:

  • Do proper warm-ups and stretches. Warm muscles put you at lesser risk for sports injuries as they absorb quick motions, bends, and jerks.
  • Use the proper technique. Learn how to perform the correct movements while you’re playing sports or doing exercises.
  • Get the right gear for your sport or activity. Wear the right shoes and protective gear to prevent any injury.
  • Don’t overdo it. Take time to recover before going back to your sport or exercise, and start at a slower pace when you return.
  • Cool down after playing or exercising. You can use your warm-up exercises and stretching techniques for your cool down routine.
  • Continue an activity slowly. Go slow as you recover and eventually return to your sport or exercise routine.


What are the Possible Treatments for Sports Injuries?

Sports injuries require different types of treatments depending on their severity. These treatments include:

    • The RICE method. RICE stands for rest, ice, compression, and elevation. It helps treat mild injuries, with less swelling, pain, and bruising.
    • Surgery and physical therapy – serious injuries may require surgery and post-operative physical therapy to allow optimal healing and prevent recurrence. 
    • Chiropractic adjustments – chiropractic techniques can be applied to treat specific injuries and provide relief from pain and other symptoms. Adjustments can help lessen inflammation in the injured area, improve its function, and prompt total healing. 

    Manage & Treat Your Injury with Life Clinic’s Help

    Don’t let a sports injury stop you from keeping yourself active. Get back to playing or exercising with Life Clinic’s help. Our chiropractic and rehabilitation services will help you restore, maintain, and optimize human function while improving your health. Start your journey to recovery at a Life Clinic location today.

Dr. Reza Alizadeh

Dr. Reza is the visionary behind LifeClinic. His leadership is the foundation for the patient and team member experience, and overall direction of the LifeClinic. As the creator of IMJT, Dr. Reza continues to be the primary teacher on this technique.

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