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No pain, no gain? Some of the most common sports injuries explained

According to Sport England’s most recent survey, around 15.6 million people enjoy playing sport at least once a week, and the five most popular activities include Swimming (2.5m), Athletics (2.3m), Cycling (2m), Football (1.8m) and Golf (0.74m).  Although the benefits of taking part in sport far out ways the risks, unfortunately sporting activity is often associated with injury. 

High profile incidents such as Fabrice Muamba’s near fatal heart attack while playing in a match between Bolton and Tottenham Hotspur, and the tragic death last year of Australian cricketer Phillip Hughes after being struck by a ball, highlight the most extreme risks.  At the elite level of sport, with athletes becoming fitter and stronger, chances of injury can often be much greater - particularly in contact sports such as Rugby, American Football and Boxing. In professional football, hamstring injuries have increased by 4%  since 2001 and of course the less common metatarsal injury was made famous overnight by Becks, Rooney and Gerrard. 

Being a professional athlete has the advantage of being surrounded by medical teams and physios who can constantly monitor and drip feed daily advice encouraging appropriate warm up techniques and measures to both prevent and recover from injury.  But of course the majority of the 15.6m people taking part in amateur sport do not have such luxury. 

One of the biggest mistakes tends to be moving too quickly into physical activity without the appropriate warm up' or having been out of sport for a long period and expecting to pick up where you left off all those months or years ago. 

Common injuries

Certain parts of the body are more prone to damage than others, and sports injuries accounted for roughly 2% of cases seen by A&E in a year. So let’s take a brief look at some of the most common injuries suffered in sport:

1 - Muscle pulls

This is often as a result of lack of stretching/having a suitable warm up or when you are tired.  This injury occurs when a severe force is applied to the muscle which stretches the fibres beyond capacity.  

A muscle pull is when just a few fibres tear (a muscle tear is when most fibres tear).  Different muscles can be pulled depending on the sporting activity but this is a common occurrence in running (hamstrings), football (hamstrings) and tennis (calves).

2 - Runners Knee

Not just prone to runners, as the name suggests, but also common in sports such as cycling and swimming.  ‘Runners Knee’ is a term used to group together a host of aches and pains around the kneecap area with torn ligaments and cartilage being the most common.  This is often as a result of overuse that leads to irritation of the tendon.

3 - Shoulder injury

Pain, stiffness and weakness in the shoulder caused by dislocations, sprains and strains tend to be common injuries for any sports that involve repetitive overhead movement – such as weightlifting, volleyball, tennis and swimming.  As with most injuries it is mostly due to overuse, affecting the group of tendons and muscles that surround the shoulder (the rotator cuff).  

4 - Ankle sprain

Any sport involving running, jumping and a quick change of movement can result in an ankle sprain.  Sports such as hockey and basketball are prime examples that have an increased risk of tearing a tendon or ligament or twisting the ankle.

 5 -Tennis/golf elbow

Due to the repetitive swing actions involved in tennis and golf it can lead to tendon degeneration in the elbow with pain caused by an inflammation where the muscles attach to the upper arm (the epicondyle).  Tennis players tend to suffer discomfort on the outside of the elbow and golfers on the inside. 

Preventative measures

The NHS website provides some useful advice and guidance on how to avoid these types of sports injuries from occurring and suitable treatments.  

Having an adequate warm up routine, not pushing yourself too hard and using the correct technique for your particular sport are some simple ways you can ensure that your active life doesn't need to take an unnecessary time out.

For further support or advice regarding the impact of a sporting injury for your club, team or organisation take a look at our range of sports insurance policies, or contact a member of our team today on 0208 285 8131