You may remember Tendulkar’s case of Tennis Elbow — it definitely made headlines at the time. After all, an injury such as this could be career breaking. But despite the name, sports injuries aren’t limited to athletes. And for every cricket player who sprains their wrist or footballer who twists their ankle, there is an Average Joe who does the same while washing clothes or gardening. Maybe you forget to stretch before your morning workout, stress your joints by washing dishes every day, or trip over the dog while cleaning — regardless, you open yourself up to a sports injury.
Sports injuries come in two types — acute and chronic. An acute injury occurs suddenly, during the activity. They are often marked by sudden, severe pain, swelling, sensitivity in the affected area, and an inability to move. So when you overdo your daily exercise and wake up all stiff the next day, that qualifies as an acute sports injury.
Chronic sports injuries are ones that occur over a long period of time. Most athletes, for example, exert continuous stress on certain parts of the body. Over time, this can cause injuries such as stress fractures and runner’s knee. Chronic injuries are characterised by swelling, pain while performing an activity, and a dull ache when at rest. These kinds of injuries develop slowly — so it may take months or even years to realize you have it.
Here is an overview of some of the common sports injuries by our care.fit Orthopedist & Orthopaedic Surgeon, Dr. Mahadev Jatti
Sprains, Strains, and Fractures
These are fairly common injuries that can result from overwork or even just accidents while doing simple household tasks. Hanging clothes to dry or swabbing the floor can cause you to overuse your muscles. A simple way to avoid this is to take breaks between tasks and not do too much work in one go. You can also alternate hands every time you do household chores to prevent yourself from putting too much stress on the same muscles and joints.
You may find yourself subject to back pain if you often bend over an ironing board, hunch over a desk, or stoop to pick up a gas cylinder or other heavy items. Many household, or even office-related tasks involve your back muscles in ways you may not realize until it’s too late. Protect your back by doing short stretches throughout the day. And if you need to lift something be sure to do it properly — lift with your knees and not your back.
Stiff muscles and joints
These are usually chronic issues that build up through repetitive work over time. However some cases of muscle stiffness can be acute, like the ones that occur after a workout. To prevent acute muscle stiffness start the day with some stretches, and make sure that when you work out, you’re doing it correctly. Chronic joint and muscle stiffness can be prevented by switching things up, either by using the opposite hand or alternating the kinds of chores you do during the week so that there’s less repetitive stress on your body.
What can you do if you do have a sports injury?
A common mistake people make is to ‘work through’ the pain, but this will only agitate the injury. If you feel a sudden or unusual pain, or a prolonged ache over a period of time, stop what you’re doing immediately and treat the problem. The good news is that you can probably treat it yourself — just follow RICE!
- Rest — avoid moving the injured area and try to keep weight off of it. Use splints, braces, canes or crutches if necessary.
- Ice — Apply an ice pack or ice wrapped in a cloth on the injured area for about 20 minutes four to eight times a day. This step is especially important within the first 3 days of the injury.
- Compression — wrap the area in a crepe bandage firmly, but not too tightly for up to one week
- Elevation — keep the area raised close to or above chest level for 2–3 hours a day to allow fluids to drain and reduce swelling
The RICE method is most effective soon after the injury, as it allows your body to rest and recuperate without agitating the area too much. This lets your natural healing factor do its job. It helps reduce pain and swelling, and promotes healing and flexibility in the injured area. RICE is especially useful for mild to moderate injuries, or ‘soft injuries’ like bruises, strains, and sprains. However, it’s not very helpful for serious soft tissue injuries or broken bones.
If you don’t see any improvement in a day or so, or if an old injury starts to act up again, then your best bet is to go see a medical professional. They’ll find a treatment plan that works for you.