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7 Most Common Sporting Injuries

Injuries are an inevitable side effect of an active lifestyle, that’s just life.

If you think you’re immune from injuries you’re either a superhuman, or a superstupid – so don’t have that perspective.

Instead, take the time to become more knowledgeable on the world of sporting injuries. It makes you less likely to suffer from them if you know what causes them.

With that in mind, today we’re going to discuss the 7 most common sporting injuries, how to repair them, the estimated recovery time and the primary causes of these injuries.

Shall we start?

I think so.

1. Ankle Sprain

An ankle sprain occurs when you roll, twist, or turn your ankle in an awkward way. The unnatural movement can stretch or tear the tissue or ligaments that hold your ankle together. 

Recovery Time

It’s a highly common injury that has an incredibly varied recovery time. It can range from as little as a few weeks, right up to a few months. It’s very dependent on you as a person, and the severity of the sprain.

Repair and Recovery Methods

It’s important to keep the ankle active when you sprain it. You don’t want a situation where the ankle loses most of its strength and the ligaments become fragile.

To prevent this you should do regular, light exercise. Try to put weight on it where possible, albeit limited. Keep it active and useful, otherwise it’ll swiftly become useless.

2. Hamstring Strain

Highly common, and very painful.

Present in just about every sport on the planet that involves running of some sort, you’re very likely to encounter this in your active life.

It’s not just a single string, it’s actually a group of 3 muscles that run along the back of your thigh that allow you to bend your leg at the knee. So, yeah, they’re quite important.

During a strain, one or more of these muscles become overloaded and may even begin to tear. A complete tear is obviously considerably worse than a strain.

Recovery Time

Again, highly dependent on the severity of the injury but as a general rule you’re looking at 4 – 8 weeks for a partial tear.

If you suffer a complete tear however, the recovery time is a lot longer. Resting closer towards the 3 – 4 month mark.

Not ideal if you’re a particularly active person, so do everything to avoid this injury.

Repair and Recovery Methods

Hamstring strains and tears are slow to heal because they’re constantly under pressure from walking.

Rest is very important when repairing a hamstring strain. It should see enough exercise from simple movement, if not too much exercise.

Re-injuries are very common with hamstrings because the vast majority of active people struggle to remain completely inactive for 3 months, and so hinder the recovery of the injury.

Do your body a favour and respect the injury. Don’t rush back into exercise.

3. Groin Pull

A groin strain is a muscular tear or rupture to any one of your groin muscles, usually one of the hip adductor muscles, of which you have 5.

These are called:

  • Adductor brevis
  • Adductor longus
  • Adductor magnus
  • Adductor pectineus
  • Adductor gracilis

Any one of these can be injured, however the most common by far is the adductor longus. 

This type of injury is normally caused by over-straining when running, kicking, or changing direction. It’s not as painful as a hamstring strain, but is just as inconvenient.

Recovery Time

For a less severe strain you can expect to be back exercising within a few weeks, 3 or 4. Just make sure to take it easy when you’re back.

If, however, the strain is more severe it’s more likely to take 6 – 8 weeks to recover. Not as long as a hamstring strain, thankfully.

Repair and Recovery Methods

The old faithful RICE. (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation)

That’s the best way to recover from a groin strain, hands down. 

Refrain from doing exercise, much the same as a hamstring strain, because the movement from walking should be enough, especially in the early days. 

As the weeks progress and the pain starts to ease up, stretching and strengthening exercises are recommended to help build the muscle back up. 

As with hamstrings, re injuries are very common, so be sure to take precautions prior to returning to exercise, and don’t rush back. 

4. Shin Splints

Now these are uncomfortable. 

A shin splint is a sharp pain along the tibia (shin) that can be felt when walking, exercising, etc. 

Known medically as medial tibial stress syndrome, this injury is common among athletes who have recently increased the intensity of their exercise, or changed their training routine. 

The higher intensity causes the muscles, tendons, and bone tissue to be overworked. Resulting in a sharp pain.

Recovery Time

Shin splints shouldn’t take long to recover. The vast majority of cases heal in 2 – 4 weeks, so you shouldn’t be out of exercise for long.

However, if the pain returns soon after healing, stop exercising right away. Sustained damage to shin splints can leave to a very lengthy recovery period, sometimes taking as much as 6 months to completely heal.

They should heal quickly, but if the pain persists, don’t risk it.

Repair and Recovery Methods

In most cases, simple home activities can repair shin splints. 

Rest is important but you should still retain some level of activity, so try swimming. It’s weightless on your shins and is an excellent way to repair the damaged muscles and tendons.

Another trick is placing an ice pack (wrapped in a towel) on the shin for 15 minutes every couple of hours until the pain subsides. This works well and can stop inflammatory effects.

If you don’t have time for that, painkillers are an alternate option. Use ibuprofen, acetaminophen, and naproxen sodium to help ease the pain.

5. Anterior Cruciate Ligament Tear (ACL)

Now this is a painful one.

Like, seriously painful.

The ACL is one of the 4 major ligaments in the knee and can cause serious damage both long term, and short term if it tears. 

High intensity sports like football and basketball are the most common causes of this injury, and can sideline you for a long time.

Recovery Time

If you tear your ACL, you’ll know about it. 

You’ll also realise just how long it’s going to take before you can get back to exercising.

Doctors recommend it taking 6 – 9 months until you can return to full activity, this is post surgery of course. 

Thanks to the severity of the injury you have to reconstruct the ligament, starting from the very basics of movement. 

In fact, the first few weeks will be entirely dedicated to returning any movement at all to the knee, taking care to not cause further damage. 

Repair and Recovery Time

An ACL tear cannot be repaired by simply sticking the ligament back together. 

No, you’ll have to attach new tissue onto it (graft). It’ll be reconstructed by removing the old, torn ligament, and replacing it with a tendon from another area of the leg.

So yeah, it’s not an easy job. 

In terms of recovery you’ll have to rest it for a LONG time. The first few weeks will be dedicated to moving your leg at all. 

After that it’ll be a lot of rest with the occasional focus on retaining some muscle strength. 

Towards the end of the recovery period you’ll have to work on restoring strength in the knee, because you’ll have a lot of muscle wastage as a result of lack of activity.

6. Patellofemoral Syndrome

This is quite a broad term, but as a general rule it applies to any pain felt in the front of the kneecap.

Often called “runners knee” or “jumper’s knee”, this injury is common among those who place great strain on their knees. 

The primary sufferers of this injury are young adults, often as a result of extended exercise during their growth phase, which carries through into adult life. 

Recovery Time

It typically takes 4 – 6 weeks to fully recover from patellofemoral syndrome. 

So it’s not a crazy long time, but it can be rather uncomfortable, especially when changing levels. 

Say getting out of bed in the morning, bending to pick something up, or climbing the stairs. The bending of your knee is likely to cause great discomfort and affect your walking afterwards.

Repair and Recovery Methods

Simple home treatment should be enough to treat patellofemoral syndrome.

As with any injury, stop doing activities that cause your knee strain. So, maybe sleep downstairs to avoid the stress of stairs, and try not to bend down much.

If you want to exercise still, keep it to low-impact activities and avoid putting weight on the painful knee. 

On top of this, use ice packs for 20 minutes at a time, several times a day. It prevents swelling and inflammatory side effects.

Another useful trick is compression. Place an elastic bandage around your knee to restrict the movement of the patella. If you can keep it in one place, it should hurt less.

When you’re not exercising keep it raised above your heart, again to prevent swelling, and take ibuprofen to ease the pain. 

As mentioned earlier, the pain shouldn’t be excruciating, more like discomfort.

7. Tennis Elbow

I’m sure you’ve heard of this injury before, but let’s explain anyway.

Tennis elbow occurs when the muscles of the forearm are overused or overextended, in particular the muscles that extend to your wrist and elbow.

It’s very common in, yep you guessed it, tennis players. (Who would’ve thought?)

Recovery Time

If the injury is mild then a rest period of a few weeks should suffice, 8 weeks at most. 

If, however, the tendon is damaged more severely then the recovery period may take a couple months. 

Even worse though, is if the pain persists for a long period of time, or returns frequently. In that case a rest period of 6 – 12 months may be necessary to prevent long term damage to the forearm’s tendons.

Repair and Recovery Methods

There’s not a great deal you can do for tennis elbow aside from rest.

Some other, general methods you can try are compressing the elbow with an elasticated bandage. Preventing the elbow from excessive movement is a good way to help speed to process up.

Also use ice if the pain is especially bad. It should soothe the pain a little, but you shouldn’t see any swelling. 

But the most important is rest. 

Final Note

Are you more educated? Hopefully. 

Now with your newfound medical knowledge you can best prevent these injuries from occurring, or at least reduce their frequency. 

If you have one of these injuries currently, be sure to try some of the treatment methods mentioned here, they should help make your life a little easier.