People who engage in sport and/or regular exercise are shown to be healthier, happier and live longer lives than those with sedentary lifestyles.  Exercise dramatically improves your health and wellbeing, but very active people often incur injuries whilst training or playing sport. Most sports injuries are not severe and get better on their own without the need for formal medical treatment.  Minor sports injuries include bruises, blisters, cuts and grazes.  Muscle soreness is also very common.

Causes of Sports Injuries

Causes of sports injuries can include:

  • accidental injury
  • failing to perform a thorough warm up
  • poor technique or “form”
  • overtraining
  • strain

Sports injuries fall into two main categories:

  • Sudden Injuries – these injuries arise from sudden impacts or collisions with other players or from sudden movements.
  • Overuse Injuries – these injuries develop gradually as muscles are repeatedly strained. Using poor form or technique can also contribute.  Professional athletes are particularly prone to this kind of injury.

What You Should do if You Have an Injury

If you experience pain, stop the activity immediately.  If you persist in exercising damaged muscles, you may cause more harm and lengthen your recovery time considerably. Although many injuries can be treated at home, if your pain is severe or if you are unsure how bad the injury is, you should see a doctor for advice.  This is especially true if you are a professional athlete.  In some cases, you doctor may refer you to a physiotherapist for a treatment programme. For severe injuries such as broken bones or fractures, dislocated joints or head injuries, go straight to the Accident and Emergency (A&E) department at the nearest hospital.

Treatment for Sports Injuries

Most of the time, sports injuries are minor and these can be treated at home. Over the counter painkillers should be sufficient to relieve the pain, and you can alternate applying heat and ice treatments to the affected area. Torn muscles and ligaments, breaks and fractures or damaged cartilage are more serious and you will need to see a doctor.  You will be referred to a specialist consultant and a physiotherapist for treatment.  In severe cases, surgery may be necessary.

How to Avoid a Sports Injury

Although some sports injuries are unavoidable, there are things you can do to minimise your risk.

  • Warm up thoroughly
  • Pay attention to any warning pains
  • Never strain
  • When trying to increase your strength or stamina, do so gradually
  • Use any necessary protective clothing
  • Train under the supervision of a qualified coach

Don’t Give Up

It’s easy to become distracted by stories you hear about particularly severe sports injuries, but this is not a balanced picture. Most sports injuries are minor, and almost all can be treated successfully.  The health benefits conferred by exercise far outweigh the risk. Playing sports and exercising regularly decreases your risk of developing heart disease, various cancers, stroke and other illnesses related to sedentary or inactive lifestyles.  You will also benefit from improved confidence and a sense of wellbeing.  Provided you warm up thoroughly and pay attention to your technique, there is no reason to stop playing sport.

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