How to Protect Yourself From Common Sports Injuries

October 1, 2021

Clinical Contributors to this Story

Joseph Bellapianta, M.D. contributes to topics such as Orthopedics, Sports Medicine.

Sports and physical activities bring plenty of benefits, from improving physical and mental health to relieving stress to helping with weight management. But they could also put you at risk of injury if you’re not careful.

Most Common Sports Injuries

“The most common cause of sports injury is poor training,” says Joseph Bellapianta, M.D., who specializes in orthopedics and sports medicine at Mountainside Medical Center. Other top causes include structural abnormalities, muscle weakness and unsafe exercise environments.

The most common types of sports injuries Dr. Bellapianta sees include:

  • ACL tears (knee injury)
  • Compartment syndrome (dangerous muscle pressure caused by intense repetitive exercise)
  • Fractures
  • Heat exhaustion
  • Muscle cramps
  • Shin splints, sprains and strains
  • Stress fractures
  • Torn tendons and ligaments
  • Rotator cuff tears
  • Labrum tears
  • Hip replacements
  • Knee replacements
  • Cartilage restoration procedures

Before You Start a New Sport or Exercise Program

Before you embark on a new type of exercise, sport or physical activity, here is what Dr. Bellapianta says you need to know:

  • Before beginning a program, consult a doctor who specializes in sports medicine or your primary care doctor for an evaluation. They can evaluate you for any pre-existing structural abnormalities, which can predispose you to injury, and advise you on ways to minimize risk.
  • Make stretching and warming up a part of your daily exercise routines to help prevent injury. Stretching and warming up get your body ready for the exercise you are about to do. The warm-up exercises you choose should mimic the exercise you are about to do, but at a lower intensity.
  • Listen to your body. Muscle soreness is a sign of increasing strength, but pain and soreness are very different. Pain is an indicator that you need to stop what you are doing before it causes or worsens an injury.
  • Place ice on a new injury or on sore muscles after exercising to reduce inflammation.
  • Hydrate, especially if the weather is warm or hot. Hydrate with water, a sports drink or fruit juice before, during and after exercise.
  • Start slowly, especially if it is an activity you have never done before or haven’t performed for a long time. Start in small increments and do not do it every day. Allow your body to heal by taking a day off in between exercising days.

If in spite of taking precautions, you have an injury, consult your doctor or a sports medicine specialist to ensure you get the appropriate treatment that will enable you to heal and return to your sport as quickly as possible.

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The material provided through HealthU is intended to be used as general information only and should not replace the advice of your physician. Always consult your physician for individual care.