Fighting Common Sports Injuries

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Every sport brings with it wear and tear, and extra stress, on a particular body part. If you know what to expect going in, then you might be able to avoid these injuries. After all, why screw up your summer by twisting a knee when you go water-skiing the first time out? This article will list 10 sports that guys like to play and the most common injury associated with each one.

We will tell you what you can do to avoid it; and how to overcome it if you get it. So keep reading before you start playing, because nobody wants to come down with a bad case of Plantar Fasciitis!

Things To Remember

Before we begin, keep in mind that no matter what sport it is that you like to play, warming up and stretching before and stretching and cooling down after are the two general rules to prevent most (if not all) common sports injuries. This becomes more relevant as you enter your 20s, and only becomes more of a factor with each passing year.

That being said, no matter what age you are, injuries can occur. Even though a younger body has tendency to bounce back a lot quicker, chronic injuries start when you are young and get progressively worse (or they tend to reoccur more frequently) as you age. There are also injuries specific to certain sports that get worse the longer you partake in a sport, but we will discuss these problems when we discuss the sport.

Arm Wrestling

Arm wrestling may seem like a fun sport to engage in at the spur of the moment, but if you go up against someone who knows what he is doing you can get injured very quickly. A good arm wrestler will twist your wrist sharply in order to break your hold, and this action can cause tendon and muscle damage. But the real problem occurs in your elbow. The tendons in your elbow may not be used to severe, sudden movement, and the tearing that occurs here can be extremely painful. There can be a fracture or separation of the tendon form the bone, and the result is one painful mess that takes weeks or months to heal.

How to avoid it & what to do if it happens:

Make sure you are properly seated in a chair and that you do not get thrown off balance by your opponent. You should also quit as soon as you know you are going to lose, as resisting a stronger opponent could result in damage. If you do get injured, check with your doctor and stay out of the gym for at least one month. It is very easy to make a bad situation worse by continuing a weight routine after an elbow or wrist injury.

Bowling

Surprisingly, bowlers do get injured more often then you would think. One of the reasons for this is that most people bowl as a leisure activity, and they do not think of it as a sport. There are several areas that are susceptible, such as the wrist, particularly with ten-pin bowling. The balls are very heavy, and you have to take them back high, meaning the weight of ball is supported by your wrist. Next is your forearm area, which can get pulled very easily by hyper-extending your arm. The buttocks are also susceptible, as you plant your weight on one foot when you throw, and finally the knees for the same reason as the buttocks.

How to avoid it & what to do if it happens:

For the wrist and arm, you might want to try using a lighter ball or throwing with two hands – at least until you get comfortable with your technique and the weight of the ball. If you do injure yourself and want to keep bowling, then use two hands and stand on the line. You might look silly, but you will take the strain off of your arm. If you have hurt your knee or buttocks, you might be better off sitting out a few games. If you can’t wait, follow the advice above and wrap the knee in tensor bandage or a sports knee brace.

Curling

Curling – like bowling – is often played as a recreational or seasonal sport, so like bowling there is little or no warm-up by those who play. Curling involves you to do two main things – sweeping and throwing the rock. The sweeping action is something that is not too foreign to your body, but when you throw correctly, many people new at the game injure their ‘tuck’ knee. Why? The main reason is because your knee is extended (or hyper-extended) to a degree not normally achieved in day-to-day life.

How to avoid it & what to do if it happens:

Since the knee is so vulnerable – especially if this is your first game in a while – you may want to avoid doing a full tuck knee. Your shots may not be as good, but you will place less stress on the knee. Another option is to pre-stretch that knee as part of your pre-shot routine, which will eliminate the quick stress caused by those who just get up and throw when it is there turn. If you do get hurt, make sure you take a few weeks off or you might seriously injure yourself; and when you come back, where a brace during the game.

Diving

Competitive divers are great at staying in shape, as it is part of the fitness regime. But for the rest of us summer splashers; the odds are we don’t think twice about diving into anything in order to impress a crowd. The odds are you won’t have to worry about decompression sickness, although this is a very common problem in diving as the pressure change that occurs in the first 10 meters of a dive is extreme. But many people tend to hurt their head, neck and spine, either by hitting the bottom of the pool or lake, or by hitting the water too hard. Although not fatal, injuries that occur to the spine are always problematic.

How to avoid it & what to do if it happens:

The key rule for diving safety is never dive in water you unfamiliar with. If you don’t know the depth, then don’t dive into the water. Check the depth first, and then mark the best area to dive. Don’t dive drunk! If someone you are with does hit their head or injure their spine, be careful! You have to get them to the shore, but use something hard and flat to move them, as you do not want to aggravate the injury. The best way to avoid this type of injury is to never dive when you don’t know what you are diving into. You can always cannonball!

Equestrian

Equestrian may not be for everybody, as the average guy does not own a horse or a stable. But for those who do partake, the sometimes-grueling pace can cause serious stress on the body – the human body, not just the horse. The sport encompasses practically any form of competitive riding, including western. You might have seen riders in the Olympics performing a series of jumps and controlled turns, or other events involving high speeds and/or parading the horse in a particular way. Whatever the event might be – the common element to all of them is that a horse is required. And repetitive horseback riding can cause problems for the human body, particularly when the horse is ridden incorrectly. Although the jarring impact of horseback riding can be harmful to the spine, the more common injuries occur in the arm, wrist and shoulder.

How to avoid it & what to do if it happens:

Make sure you know how to ride the horse in the correct way. Some people tend to be to stiff on their mount, resulting in a posture and balance more appropriate for riding in a car. If you have some fluidity in your movement, your body will move more freely with the motion of the horse. If your horse gets startled or you fall, then your hand might be tied to the saddle and get hung up, resulting in injury. Ensure you can break free quickly if needed, and work on your upper body strength at the gym. Horses way more than motorcycles, so you need to be able to get out of the way if yours comes crashing down on or near you.

Football – American Style

Where to begin? American style football is one of the most injury prone sports on earth, even with all the protective equipment. Part of the problem is the Astroturf, which is not nearly as soft as ‘real’ earth. And another problem might be steroids, which make even the mildest mannered defensive line go into psycho mode when protecting their end zone. But the most common injury in this sport is related to the knee, and the reasons for this are multiple. First, the shoes footballers wear have cleats so that they can dig into the grass or turf for better traction. Although this is a needed feature, it does not allow for the normal give that a flat-soled shoe (or your barefoot) would offer. This means that when your body is forced to turn and your foot won’t budge, then your knee – a weak joint at best – is forced to turn sideways – ouch! Second, the knee is also the weak point in your leg, so getting clipped or tackled while you are running often involves the knee in some fashion. Finally, if you jump up to take a pass, you are often landing in a sea of tackles and hits, also exposing your knee to major trauma.

How to avoid it & what to do if it happens:

The easiest way to avoid a knee injury is to make sure you go with the flow. So if you are getting knocked in a direction that will cause your knee to hyperextend or tear, then make sure you move in the direction that avoids this from happening. This can sometimes prove to be impossible to do during a football game, especially if you are part of the defensive line. When you do get an injury, stop playing immediately! If you really want to ruin your hope of an eventual recovery, then shoot cortisone into the knee and keep playing. Or, get off the field, pack the knee in ice to reduce swelling, and get to a hospital ASAP.

Golf

Although there are hecklers out there who might claim golf is not really a sport, we feel it is worthy of mention in this list as so many partake in the game during the summer. The good thing about golf is that there is no tackling or hitting, nor are there large objects that will crash down and cause you even greater injury. That being said, golf does involve a lot of muscles, particularly when driving the ball. To further complicate matters, golf tends to be a sport – depending on your location – that is played for only a few months each year. This means that most of us do nothing whatsoever to prepare for the golf season, so we hit the links in late April, rusty and tight. This leads to injuries, and the injuries cause sad delays of a sport you waited months to play. The main trouble spots: the back, feet, and elbows. The back can get hurt due to the sharp twisting motion required from backswing to follow through, and the harder you swing the harder the strain. Your feet may not sound like a trouble spot, but injuries to the Achilles tendon are very common, especially for those who do no other exercise during the winter months. Finally, the elbow can flare up with tennis elbow, as most often overextend this tendon, particularly when they are cold or out of shape.

How to avoid it & what to do if it happens:

The easiest way to avoid the above injuries would be to go to the driving range for 20-30 minutes before each game. However, most pros say that stretching is more important than the range, and that they would choose it if they could only do one or the other before teeing off. Another option is to practice the swinging motion over the winter months when you are not golfing. Use a piece of wood or a club – even a baseball bat – as long as you are repeating that motion and keeping the back and arm muscles from tightening up too much during your layoff. If you do get injured, there are lots of options. Keep a tensor bandage in your bag, which will help out your arm and elbow if you start to get pain. Taking a cart can help the feet, but this is a short-term solution only. You also might want to try wearing a good pair of runners for your first few games, which will offer maximum support for those who need it. For the back, just make sure you take of it when you get home and minimize the stress you are placing on it. Drugs will only get you so far, and back injuries take a long time to go away.

Kickboxing

Maybe you have been watching a few to many action movies, or maybe you just want to learn something useful in the gym, rather than pedal for an hour on a stationary bike. Whatever your reasons, kickboxing is one hell of a workout. Most cities offer everything from small clubs and tournaments to gyms that feature kickboxing-style aerobics. Rather than fight with your fists, like traditional hands-only boxing, kickboxing also uses the legs to deliver deadly blows. Striking your opponent as hard as possible with your foot is the goal, and roundhouse kicks to the head are frequent. Common injuries tend to occur more as a result of the hyper-flexing of the knees and elbows, rather than landing a blow to the head.

How To Avoid It & What To Do If It Happens

Knowing what you are doing is probably the best advice you can take when you start learning kickboxing. Plus, taking is as slowly as possible in the early stages can help you to avoid a serious injury early on. This means avoiding amateur bouts and gyms where ‘real’ kickboxing is happening, and starting off with group training at a local health club. Don’t go for the fully extended killer kicks right at the outset. Instead, practice the moves slowly, without locking your knees and elbows as you learn. That will force you to take smaller kicks and punches, allowing your body time to change. If you do strain a knee or elbow early, stop immediately and avoid working that part of your body until you have healed.

Lacrosse

Lacrosse is a wicked combination of hockey, soccer and basketball, with a little bit of running and shoving thrown in for good measure. It involves some serious endurance, as players must run around a field and hurl a hard rubber ball at each other. Back in the good old days, Native Americans would play this sport as a way to show their manhood. The rough play of the sport often resulted in broken legs and limbs, which could lead to death giving the time period. Nowadays, players have protective gear to prevent serious injury, but injuries still occur; the most common being shoulder related. Since players are required to hold the stick (crosse) up high, while running, turning, falling and throwing, the repetitive nature of these actions coupled with rough game play causes tremendous stress on the shoulder.

How To Avoid It & What To Do If It Happens

Practicing for Lacrosse can cause more harm than good, if you hyperextend the shoulder. Plus, repetitive practice that requires continuous strain on the shoulder can also lead to problems; so make sure you avoid lengthy practice sessions involving target practice. Building up your shoulder muscles and flexibility are the best ways to prevent an injury. If you do injure yourself, be prepared for a lengthy recovery period. Shoulder injuries are especially painful and slow to heal, as our shoulders bear the brunt of the weight and motion of the arm during any activity. When you start to exercise to recover from a shoulder injury, be careful not to push yourself so that you are in pain. Only work the shoulder to a point just before pain starts, which will allow your shoulder to recover without re-injury.

Mountain Biking

Mountain biking is all the rage these days, and practically everyone owns a bike. The problem is that most of us fail to get properly fitted for a bike, which is as important as getting fitted for any sports equipment you might buy. Bodies come in different shapes and sizes, which means you need to find a bike that best suits your weight, height and fitness level. Buying a bike ‘off the rack’ is common, and it also leads to common injuries. Overuse is frequent amongst new riders, which only exacerbates a fitting-related injury. Everything from a bad bike seat to a frame that is too short can lead to worse injuries if frequent use is involved.

How To Avoid It & What To Do If It Happens

In addition to getting fitted for the proper bike for your body, bike-related injuries are most common in the wrists – due to falling, and the impact and constant jarring over rough terrain; shoulder injuries – for the same reasons the wrists take a beating; head injuries – as a result of wearing no helmet or one that is a poor fit; cuts and scrapes – as a result of falling. Your best bet to avoid these injuries is to exercise caution and go to a real bike shop when you are ready to buy your first bike. Plus, get to know the terrain and trail before you start biking.

Paintball

Paintball may not seem like an obvious choice at first glance, but a lot of guys have invested time and money into this game, and it can be one of those casual sports that cause you serious injury. And since must guys will go play paintball with their buddies before they would ever go parachuting or paragliding, we felt it was good replacement for N & O. Anyway, aside from the obvious potential for head and eye injury (wear the right equipment!), paintball often result in injuries that are common to those who do trail running; because when you add in uneven terrain you increase both knee and ankle injuries.

How To Avoid It & What To Do If It Happens

The best way to avoid serious ankle or knee injury on rough terrain is to go slower and wear footwear that has excellent traction – even spikes. You also need to have a sharp eye to watch for loose debris and other hazards, which makes this sport particularly challenging, as you must be on the lookout for enemy sniper fire. A twisted ankle can be helped on the spot by removing the weight and wrapping the ankle. Knees require more care, as long-term problems can occur. Avoid running on loose rocks, and try to find firm ground for the greatest stability.

Ping Pong (Table Tennis)

Outside of China, some might not consider this a sport. But a lot of people have a dusty table in their basement, and they naturally assume they can play without injury whenever they want too. And if you are an aggressive player, chances are you won’t hold back and play nice. The swinging action of the paddle puts similar stress on your elbow as tennis or other racket sports, which can lead to tennis elbow. The wrist is also susceptible, but only if you are snapping it to deliver viscous spins.

How To Avoid It & What To Do If It Happens

Since you probably didn’t warm up at all, the odds are good you might injure your elbow. The best way to avoid it is to avoid prolonged playing, especially if you are new to the game or haven’t played it in sometime. Avoid aggressive play that causes you to make sharp snapping motions as you go in for the kill can also increase your risk. Tennis elbow takes time to heal, usually in the neighborhood of 4-6 weeks. If you must play, get an elbow brace or tensor bandage, or play against young children.

Rugby

Rugby is a game that is played nearly everywhere on the planet, and it also has one of the highest injury rates of any sport. Why? Well, the main reason is that participants wear little or no protective gear. Plus, people tend to pile on top of each other, which puts stress and pressure on the person at the bottom of the pile. Common injuries range from the severe – broken or fractured bones – to the minor – bruising and cuts.

How To Avoid It & What To Do If It Happens

The best way to avoid serious injury in this sport is to increase your body and muscle mass. This game is particular hard on younger male players (15-19 years old), mainly due to their size. Fractured and broken bones occur as a result of collisions, hits, and pile-ups. Learning how to take a hit, and avoiding the bottom of the pile are two sound strategies to avoid these serious injuries. If you start to feel pain, start fighting the pile to get the weight off the affected area. The only cure is recuperation. Strains and sprains occur do to the physical nature of this sport, and the tendency to clump together to prevent movement. Normally, you upper or lower body is locked into a specific place, and then the group shifts causing a sprain or other injury. Avoid planting your feet if you get into this position, as your knees and ankles react very poorly when they have to do abnormal motions. Elephant chain – a ritual among some rugby teams to initiate newbies. It involves the team stripping naked, then lining up in a row. You then reach your hand between the legs of your teammate and grab his balls. Then everyone walks or hobbles their way into the bar. No injuries here, other than to your pride. The good news is you will probably be drunk; so don’t worry about the long-term psychological effects!

Squash

Squash has been around – in one form or another – since the 19th century. What separates squash from other racquet sports is the ball action. It is heavy and smaller, and because of this it does not have the bounce and range that a racquetball ball has. This does not make the game easier, as players often work much harder to get to the ball, and rallies are longer due to the front wall rule. And did we mention the ball hurts like a bastard if it hits you at high speeds? Well, it does. So make sure you were eye protection. The more common and serious injuries for this sport tend to come in the form of ball and racquet strikes, which usually involve high speeds and your head or eyes. Injuries relating to muscle sprains are not as frequent, probably because squash requires a higher level of physical fitness than some other racquet sports.

How to avoid it & what to do if it happens

The best way to avoid serious injury to your head or eyes is by not getting struck in the first place. Many top-name squash players have had career ending injuries, not to mention countless amateurs. Knowing your position on the court is crucial, as inexperienced tend to get clipped by being in the way. Fatigue and dehydration can also lead to sloppy errors, which then lead to injury. If you do get struck in the head, get help immediately. A concussion does not always reveal itself immediately, and eye injuries can go from bad to worse in a heartbeat.

Tennis

Tennis is one of those games that everyone feels that they can play, regardless of their current physical condition. The good news is you are all correct. It is relatively low impact, and if you play against someone who is a lot better than you are, chances are you won’t get the opportunity to strain yourself. That being said, tennis elbow is the most common injury for the average and professional player. Why? Because you are overextending your elbow, and that is a motion that is not natural for your arm. Other injuries can occur in the knees, particularly if you lose traction with frequent stopping and turning.

How to avoid it & what to do if it happens

Tennis elbow is a very painful injury, and it is the kind of injury that will recur over, and over again – like carpal tunnel syndrome. In addition to warming up and stretching, you can also take the time to bandage your arm with a tensor bandage. If this is a chronic injury, go to a specialty fitness store and get a high quality brace that is custom made to fit your arm. Rest is about the only thing that will help your elbow recover, so you might want to try switching from a rightie to a leftie while the bad arm heals.

Underwater Hockey

If you have never heard of this sport, then you haven’t been paying attention. Those that play it claim it is one of the best workouts you will ever get. Since you are in the pool the entire time, you don’t sweat or tire as easily as you would on the ice. Plus, the cardio benefits from diving and swimming are amazing. Yes, it is played underwater, using a tiny stick, a heavy puck, snorkel, mask, and a glove. It is a non-contact sport, but injuries still occur. The most common of which is the hand injury, which can come from puck or stick contact.

How to avoid it & what to do if it happens

Since injuries in this sport occur from various forms of contact, you need to understand the flow of the game so you are not unintentional hit in the hand, head or mouth. Players are always supposed to play the puck, not the player. Switching your stick from hand to hand is also not recommended, as players only have one hand protected at all times. Foucault you do get a laceration, you have to exit the pool immediately. Blood in the water is an automatic stoppage of the game, due to numerous health reasons. This means you can’t go back into the water with an open cut or stitches, so you will be sitting things out on the sidelines until you heal.

Beach Volleyball

Volleyball has made an amazing comeback over the last decade, thanks in a large part to rule changes at the Olympic Games and the introduction of 2 on 2 beach volleyball. If you have never played 2 on 2, then you might be in for a shock. It is one hell of a workout, and playing on sand makes things a lot harder. Like hard court, beach players tend to suffer most frequently from knee injuries. But unlike hard court, you have to work a lot harder to get to the ball, and you have to play on sand. So while you do benefit from a lower impact, you lose out on a stable landing surface. Volleyball players also suffer from hand and finger injuries, and the ankle can twist on sand or on the court. But the knee is still the most likely injury zone, and accounts for the bulk of injuries on the pro circuit.

How to avoid it & what to do if it happens

The main cause of knee injury in any sport occurs when the knee moves in a direction it shouldn’t. This is a far more likely occurrence when you are playing on soft sand, as the surface is uneven and unpredictable. There are a few things you can do to minimize your chances of a tear, strain or sprain. First, play in bare feet. This will allow you the flexibility you need, rather than a stiff outsole that could cause you to turn your ankle or knee sharply. Second, be aware of the surface you are playing on. If you play regularly, then bring a rake and make sure the surface is even and rock-free. Third, learn how to land. Spiking with gusto is great, but bad landings = bad knees. Practice until you get it right, so your landings won’t knock you out for the season. If you do sprain, strain or tear, then get off the court ASAP. Dip that knee into the beer cooler and get to a hospital.

Weightlifting

Weightlifting is a pastime and a sport, and chances are you have done it at least once in your life. The most common injury in the sport varies depending on what part of the body you are working, but almost all the injuries result in serious muscle strain and/or overuse. Guys like to push each other to pump more and to pump longer, and of course we don’t like to back down. So it is not uncommon to see a guy blow out a shoulder, elbow, or back while trying to impress his buds.

How to avoid it & what to do if it happens

Although you might not think it, warming up prior to weightlifting is probably more critical here than in any other sport. You might not be doing cardio exercise, but muscles require serious warmth and flexibility prior to hard usage. The other smart thing to do is to gradually increase weights, rather than jumping into heavy lifting. And if you decide to try a new machine or routine, take it easy the first few times until you get into a rhythm. The nice thing about weightlifting is your body usually gives you an early warning prior to tendons detaching from bone. So the minute you feel a burning sensation or a funny twinge, pack it in for the day and leave that muscle group alone for a week.

Yachting

Okay, yachting might not be for everyone, but chances are you have been on a boat! Plus, yachting has become even more popular since Wedding Crashers! And let’s face it – yachting has become something that everyone wants to do, meaning a whole whack of inexperienced, out of shape guys are out their trying to be sailors. Probably the most common injuries are minor – cuts, abrasions and burns. But every now and then inexperience leads to a major head injury or muscle tear. While some of the minor injuries are just part of the sailing life, some of the bigger injuries can be avoided.

How to avoid it & what to do if it happens

Weather can sometimes have a major impact on injury rates – both good weather and bad. Bad weather can make people sloppy due to panic, rain, fear, etc., while good weather can make you too relaxed and easy going. The boom is responsible for many a major injury and it has been known to knock people unconscious, overboard, and even taken the occasional life. Be aware of the boom, and learn when to duck. If you do take a knock on the head, make sure you stay away from the side. Because if you pass out, you want to pass out on the boat. If you don’t get knocked out, then just laugh it off and learn from your mistake. After all, you don’t want all your bikini-clad friends to think you’re a newbie!

That’s it for sports injuries! We hope you have lots of fun playing, and that you always avoid serious injury!

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