Common Sports-Related Injuries in the Fall
The leaves are changing, and the weather is cooling off, which means fall sports are back. Whether you are cheering on your favorite professional athlete, supporting your child from the sidelines, or gearing up for the game, it's important to be aware of the prevention and treatment of fall sports. Each year, over 8.6 million sports-related injuries are reported, with 1.3 million of those occurring to student-athletes. But with proper preparation, these injuries can be avoided.
Injuries common during fall sports
With any sport, you run the risk of experiencing an injury. You likely know many factors can lead to injury, like your training, nutrition, condition of your body, and the terrain you are playing on. However, many people don't consider the season you are in. With fall sports, you'll need to ensure your body is properly warmed up and cooled down to adjust to the changing temperatures throughout the season. Some of the most common athletic injuries experienced during fall sports are:
Strains - Muscle strains usually occur through sudden movement, which is common in most sports. For example, a quick turn to get the ball in your possession, a sudden change in direction during a play, or a sharp movement to reach the goal are all common ways to strain a muscle. Symptoms of muscle strain can include pain around the area, limited motion, and muscle spasms. The most common strains experienced in sports usually occur in the lower back and hamstrings.
Sprains - A sprain is the overstretching of a ligament. They are common in sports where there is quick movement and direct impact, like football,soccer, and cheerleading. Symptoms of a sprain can include weakness around the area, bruising, and cramping. The wrists and ankles are the most prone to sprain injuries.
Fractures - Fractures are one of the most common injuries in sports, especially in soccer and football. A fracture, also known as a broken bone, can occur through a direct blow or a fall and must be treated immediately. Fractures are treated with a cast or sling and, in more severe cases, surgery. Symptoms of a fracture include intense pain, deformity of the area, numbness, and bruising. Fractures occur most commonly in the ankles, feet, and legs.
Concussions - The fall season means a lot of contact sports like football, soccer, cheerleading, and field hockey. These contact sports are a common place for a concussion to occur through blunt force impact or violent shaking to the head and upper body. Symptoms of a concussion can include difficulty concentrating, sensitivity to light, trouble sleeping, and blurred vision. A concussion is a severe injury that requires immediate treatment and time off from the sport.
Injury prevention in fall sports
While some injuries are unavoidable, like a direct impact during a play, there are ways to prevent most sports injuries. Take these steps to avoid an unnecessary injury this season.
Staying active during the off-season - When your sport isn't in season, it's easy to take a break and relax during your time off. While it's important to give your body time to rejuvenate and recover during the off-season, you should continue being active by training at a lower intensity and reduced frequency to keep your body in shape and ready for the following season. Keeping your body moving during the off-season will ensure you are ready to hop back in the game when the time comes. This will reduce the likelihood of injury when the season starts because your body will be primed for physical activity and have the stamina to keep up and get back to intense training.
Warming up before a game or practice - It's always important to warm your body up before physical activity of any kind. This is especially true during the fall as the temperature outside starts to drop. A proper warm-up will increase your body's cardiovascular system, raise your temperature, and increase blood flow to your muscle. This will reduce the likelihood of muscle injuries and help your body build stamina to last you the whole game or practice.
Proper use - With any sport or physical activity, it's important to work your muscles correctly. Improper form could result in injury, leaving you out of the game or even the season. It's especially easy to forget how to use your muscles properly after some time off. So, be sure to listen to your coach and physical trainers to ensure you are using your muscles properly to avoid injuries and build muscle.
Cooling off before heading home - Like warming up, a proper cool down is an important part of physical activity during the fall or any season. After an intense game or practice, stepping outside into the cool weather can shock your body and induce muscle spasms or strains. Cooling your body down after exercise allows your heart rate, blood pressure, and temperature to drop gradually rather than suddenly. A cool-down reduces the buildup of lactic acid in your muscles, drastically reducing the likelihood of muscle cramping and stiffness.
Acknowledging your body's discomfort - If you experience discomfort or injury, it's important to acknowledge it immediately rather than wait. While it might seem like the better choice to play through the pain, this can leave you worse off by exacerbating the injury, keeping you out of the game for much longer rather than if you had just treated it properly at the outset. If you experience an injury, be sure to let a coach, physical trainer, or orthopedic specialist know so you can get treated right away.
If you do experience an injury during the season, get it treated right away to avoid making it worse. Make an appointment at Rothman orthopedics online or by calling 1-800-321-9999 to get seen by an orthopedic specialist who's ready to get you back in the game pain-free.