File photo credit: Brenda/SSC
By Kesavan Loganathan
Taking care of oneself while engaging in sporting activities is incredibly important. Living better through an active and healthy lifestyle has little fun and can even have a negative impact when such activities take a turn for the worse because of injuries.
We take a look at some of the most common sports injuries seen at the Singapore Sports Institute (SSI) and some ways to avoid or prevent sustaining them.
1. ANKLE INJURIES
One of the most common injuries among athletes from all sports is the ankle sprain, also known as the inversion sprain. This usually happens when the ankle is rolled outwards, causing the lateral ligaments to get damaged.
Athletes involved in sports such as football and basketball, which requires them to perform quick turns on their feet, are more prone to this injury. Flat-footed people are also at high risk of incurring this nasty injury if they’re not careful.
2. LOWER BACK PAIN
Also known as acute lower back pain or chronic lower back pain, this injury is commonly found amongst athletes taking part in gymnastics mainly because of the repetitive bending postures that the athletes have to do.
Heavy weightlifters have also encountered this injury more often than not, as they place immense pressure on their back during the course of the sport. The pain initially starts of as an inflammation on the back and it has the possibility of getting worse by spreading downward towards the buttock region and down to the leg muscles.
3. KNEE INJURIES
There are two main types of knee injuries – the acute and the chronic injuries.
The acute knee injury refers to the sudden and sharp pains in the knee that athletes experience out of the blue whilst taking part in their sport. The chronic knee injury is one that happens gradually over time.
Nevertheless, it is very easy to sustain one of these injuries if the athlete isn’t careful. A simple twist of the knee or heavy impact during a contact sport can lead to the knee getting severely injured.
Some of the most common knee injuries particularly in footballers and rugby players are tearing or rupture of the Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL). Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL) and Posterior Cruciate Ligament (PCL) tears are also common. Depending on the severity of the damage, sometimes the meniscus may be damaged as well.
4. SHOULDER INJURIES
Shoulder injuries can branch out into two very commonly found ailments amongst athletes nowadays. These injuries are the rotator cuff strain as well as the shoulder impingement.
Both these injuries can lead to severe weakening of the athletes if they are not treated properly. The occurrences of these ailments can be traced back to events such as falling over an outstretched hand, repeated arm movements and also heavy contact from a sport such as rugby.
5. GROIN INJURIES
These injuries refer to that of strains felt in and around the muscles of the inner thigh. Like the ankle injury, athletes in sprinting, hurdles and football, which basically require a lot of movement and change of directions, commonly feel these injuries.
The athletes usually feel the pain when they start walking or pulling their legs in an inward direction. A key aspect of getting over the injury is getting a lot of rest and reducing movements because these injuries tend to recur if not treated properly. Athletes with a weaker core have been known to be more susceptible to this injury as well.
For all the above-mentioned injuries, if not treated in time and with the proper method, they can become a chronic problem for the athlete. The severity of the injuries can increase by several folds very quickly and recurrence of the injury over time is to be expected. This can lead to athletes dropping out of their sports or could even lead to lower performance levels. Although completely guarding oneself from injury is not possible, there are some prevention measures that can be taken before engaging in any sports activities.
5 PREVENTION TIPS
1. Warming up is extremely crucial before starting off in any sport. The warm-up session should last between 10-15 minutes at the least. Warm-ups could start with a simple walk or jog, gradually upping the pace of the exercise to pump more blood through your muscles. Make sure to stretch the muscles that will be most often used in the sport.
2. It is important to not go full force into any sport or exercise routine that have just been picked up. Follow the simple 10% rule. Do not exceed the intensity of the training immediately after initiation but instead, start slow and increase the intensity of the sport or exercise by 10% every week.
3. A key issue that most athletes are aware of yet refuse to acknowledge is hydration. Hydration is one of the key things in sport that all athletes have to do in order to prevent dehydration that can lead to further injuries, or make oneself more susceptible to illness after exercising.
4. Having proper basic equipment such as good running shoes, knee, ankle and the other forms of guards is important as well. It is important to get proper fitting shoes for sports that require running because of the intense exertion on the feet. The sporting guards will also protect the vital areas from sustaining injuries easily. It is advisable for those with weak knees, back or ankles to don on braces or support equipment while exercising as well to prevent worsening of the muscles.
5. Last but not least, do not forget to cool down after a round of exercise or sporting fun. It is important to have a minimum of 10 minutes of cool-down exercises. This helps to reduce the soreness in muscles by removing the toxic waste that has build up in the muscles from intense usage.
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