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Sports Injuries

Playing sport and doing regular exercise is good for your health, but sport can sometimes result in injuries especially if people take up sports later in life. Most people will only experience minor sport-related injuries such as cuts and grazes, bruises and blisters.

Sporting injuries are common, and can involve:

  • muscles
  • bones
  • ligaments (thick bands of tissue that connect one bone to another)
  • tendons (tough cords that link muscles to bones)
  • joints 
  • cartilage (tough, very smooth tissue that covers the surface of joints and allows bones to glide over one another)

Why sports injuries happen

Sports injuries can be caused by:

  • an accident
  • not warming up properly
  • using inadequate equipment or poor technique
  • pushing yourself too hard

A sports injury may be either:

  • a sudden injury – the result of a sudden impact or an awkward movement
  • an overuse injury – developing over a long time as a result of overusing certain parts of the body, or poor technique

Overuse injuries are common in professional athletes because of the intense nature of their training.

Children can also develop overuse injuries. To reduce the risk they should be encouraged to play a variety of sports, and have any training monitored by a qualified coach.

What to do if you have an injury

Stop exercising if you feel pain, regardless of whether your sports injury happened suddenly or you’ve had the pain for a while. Continuing to exercise while you are injured may cause further damage and slow your recovery time.

Although minor injuries can often be treated at home, you should consult Dr Allfree if you need advice. Some injuries may benefit from manual therapy such as osteopathy. 

If the injury is severe, such as a broken bone, dislocation or severe head injury, you should go to your nearest accident and emergency department.

Treating sports injuries

You can treat minor sports injuries yourself by resting the affected body part and using over-the-counter painkillers, such as paracetamol or ibuprofen, to relieve pain.

More serious sports injuries, such as a torn ligament or damaged cartilage, will require specialist advice and treatment. Dr Allfree has specialist training in the treatment of sports injuries, and will be able to give you the most effective treatment to get you back to your sport as quickly as possible.

Preventing sports injuries

Not all sports injuries can be prevented, but you can reduce your risk of getting injured by:

  • warming up properly before you exercise
  • not pushing your body beyond your current fitness level
  • using appropriate safety equipment for specific sports, such as shin guards for football or a gum shield for rugby
  • receiving coaching to learn correct techniques

If you start a new sport or activity, it is a good idea to get advice and training from a qualified sports coach.

Are sports worth the risk?

After reading this, you might get the impression that sports are risky activities, but this is not the case. The benefits of sport definitely outweigh the risk of injury. Any physical activity, even walking to the shops, involves some degree of risk.

It's important to remember the health benefits that sport and exercise can give you, such as:

  • reducing your risk of developing serious diseases later in life, such as heart disease or cancer
  • improving your mood, self-confidence and sense of wellbeing
  • helping you to maintain a healthy weight