From a well-conditioned athlete to weekend warriors, anyone can suffer a sports injury. Inadequate fitness and a failure to warm-up properly as well as engaging in an activity you are not properly conditioned along with weakness in the muscles, ligaments and tendons following vigorous exercise is the most common mechanism of injury.
There are, however, different causes behind different sports injuries. These are the most common:
When muscles are not used regularly, muscle wasting (loss of muscle mass) can occur, meaning the muscle fibres have become weakened, so when you attempt to engage in vigorous exercises beyond your physical capability, you may feel tired quickly and this can lead to injury.
However with regular exercise and fitness training, the muscles will adapt and strengthen.
Flexibility/ Muscle tightness
Poor flexibility is another factor in unconditioned athletes behind a sports- related injury. Flexibility is important because it affects how the body moves. Muscles work together to create smooth and co-ordinated movement, so if there is tightness in any one muscle it can directly affect the opposing muscle and limit the range of motion of the joint, which in time can weaken the muscles and the joint. This can affect the entire kinetic chain of the body.
Overtime these muscle imbalances can affect posture and can cause injury. The best way to improve flexibility is through regular stretching exercises, either static or dynamic. If you think that you struggle with flexibility, then
these should be a daily part of your routine. A thorough warm-up is also essential to prepare the muscles and joints for exercise.
In simple terms, this is doing too much, too often with little or no rest in between. A lack of adequate recovery time coupled with increased intensity of training is the most common cause of overtraining.
– Excessive fatigue
– Troubled sleep
– Inability to concentrate
– Inability to perform the exercise or sport with the correct technique.
A physiological sign of overtraining is also an increased resting heart rate. The best way to avoid overtraining is to ensure adequate rest between sessions.
Repetitive strain injuries are caused by repeated actions which apply pressure to a certain group of muscles, joint or area of soft tissue. Due to overuse the muscles tend to get a lot weaker. They usually get worse over time and include
injuries such as tennis elbow, golfer’s knee, thrower’s shoulder (impingement syndrome), plantar fasciitis and jumper’s knee (patellar tendonitis).
– Gradual pain which worsens over time, sometimes with swelling and/or bruising. Ensuring adequate rest between sessions is the best way to avoid an overuse injury.
Failure to perform a proper warm-up can put you at risk for injury as the muscles and joints are not prepared for exercise. A warm-up is necessary to increase body temperature and circulation of blood to the muscles.
A 15-20 minute warm-up should include a combination of stretching, mobility and cardiovascular exercises to prepare the body for exercise, increases performance levels and helps to prevent injuries.
Any exercise or sport which is performed repetitively with bad form is a recipe for injury. Over time the symptoms of injuries being caused by improper technique will be exacerbated and can either lead to a more serious condition or
result in more acute injuries.
The best way to avoid repeatedly performing an exercise/sport with the incorrect technique is to make sure you use a professional coach or trainer to show you the correct way to do things from the beginning and to ensure you are
wearing appropriate clothing, shoes and using the right equipment.
Perhaps the hardest to avoid, sports injuries caused by impact are most common. The impact of coming into hard contact with another person/object can force unnatural or unexpected twisting and quick direction-change which can in turn cause damage to the tissues or even joint dislocation or severe contusion.
Common injuries here include cuts, bruising, head injuries, muscle pain and dislocated joints, spinal injuries, ligament and tendon damage, fractures and head and spinal injuries. As impact and contact is often a requirement of many sports the only way to reduce the risk is to wear protective clothing if possible, such as shin pads or helmets.
Hope this would have cleared your doubts on how injury occurs in sports. Stay tuned for more information to know more about the different strategies to prevent injuries!
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4. Sports Medicine Information: (2009) Causes of sports injuries;