Playing sports and staying active will keep your body in shape, but strenuous activity can also result in painful injuries. Whether you’ve sprained an ankle or broken a bone, you should seek treatment immediately to minimize the potential for permanent damage.
Here are some common sports-related injuries and treatments important for any athlete to know.
Injury: pulled muscle
A muscle pull occurs when a sudden, severe force is applied to a muscle, causing its fibers to become overextended. Going for a run or lifting weights without warming up properly can result in a pulled muscle, though overuse, fatigue, and falls are also common culprits. With little tearing, a muscle pull should heal quickly.
Treatment: ice & rest
The best thing you can do for a pulled muscle is to rest. Ice therapy will alleviate inflammation in the affected area and relieve painful spasms. Ice should be applied in 20 minute increments with 20 minutes of rest in between. Once the muscle has started to heal, you can do some light stretching to aid the recovery process.
Injury: runner’s knee
If you spend a lot of time on the track, you’ve likely experienced patellofemoral pain syndrome. More commonly known as “runner’s knee,” its primary symptom is aching pain around the kneecap. Overuse, trauma to the knee, misalignment, and weak thigh muscles can all contribute to runner’s knee. This condition, though painful, can heal fairly quickly for athletes with mild or moderate cases.
Treatment: reduce inflammation
Runner’s knee will heal on its own, but you can speed the process by doing a few simple things. NSAID painkillers such as Aleve and Motrin coupled with ice therapy will reduce inflammation in the knee, while compression bandages provide additional support. If your case of runner’s knee is related to flat feet, custom shoe inserts called orthotics can reduce prolonged strain on the knee.
Tendonitis causes pain, swelling, and tenderness to the thick, fibrous ligaments that attach muscle to bone. According to the Mayo Clinic, tendonitis is most common in the shoulders, wrist, ankles, and heels but can affect any ligament in the body. Common conditions such as pitcher’s shoulder, tennis elbow, and jumper’s knee are all specific types of tendonitis.
Treatment: physical therapy, rest, and anti-inflammatories
Mild to moderate tendonitis can be treated with a combination of rest, physical therapy, and anti-inflammatory medications. Physical therapy will help the ligaments heal and become stronger, while anti-inflammatories reduce swelling. If the ligament has ruptured, surgery to repair the tear may be necessary.
Injury: shin splints
Shin splints, characterized by a “sharp razor-like pain,” occur along the inside of the shinbone. Caused by overuse and fatigue, shin splints are prevalent among runners, cyclists, and fitness beginners. According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, dancers, military recruits, and runners are the most common shin splint sufferers.
Treatment: rest, support, and flexibility
Rest is the most effective treatment for shin splints. You may need to take a break from your normal activity schedule to allow your muscles to heal. Taking Aleve or Motrin can help reduce pain and inflammation, and stretching the muscles surrounding your shin will further aid recovery. Once you begin to resume physical activity, be sure that your shoes provide proper support.
Sports injuries, while common, can often be remedied with a little time off the field. Any severe or nagging conditions should be evaluated by a trained sports medicine professional. If you suspect a serious injury, contact your physician for a comprehensive examination.