Sports injuries are as individual as the people who become injured, and physical therapists have treated them all. However, there are five sports injuries that tend to show up again and again across all ages, demographics, and chosen sports:

Pulled muscle: Pulled muscles are exceptionally common, especially if you do not properly warm up. A pulled muscle occurs when the muscle fibers are suddenly and sharply overstretched, causing some fibers to tear. Minimize your risk by stretching before and after every workout and mixing strength exercises with flexibility work. If you pull a muscle, rest and take anti-inflammatory pain relievers until the pain and swelling subside, then start gently stretching as soon as possible.

Runner’s knee: Despite the name, runner’s knee is not exclusive to runners. It is a misalignment of the kneecap that causes it to pull to the side during flexing or straightening. You can prevent this extremely common condition by wearing supportive footwear and strengthening your quadriceps. Use stretching, ice, massage, and anti-inflammatories to treat runner’s knee, along with a couple of days of rest.

Shoulder impingement: The complex and delicate shoulder can be injured by repetitive stress, overstretching the rotator cuff muscles and allowing the shoulder joint to become loose. This can cause the tendon between the ball and socket of the joint to “catch,” leading to inflammation and impingement. Keep the joint aligned by strengthening your rotator cuff muscles. If your shoulder becomes impinged, rest and ice it and take anti-inflammatory pain relievers.

Shin splints: These muscle pains near the shin bone are caused by repeated stress such as running or jumping, especially on hard surfaces. The muscle fibers pull away from the bone, causing pain and bruising. Increase your arch support, vary the surfaces on which you work out, and avoid sudden increases in the intensity of your workouts. Treat shin splints with stretching, ice, and anti-inflammatories.

Ankle sprain: Common among athletes whose sport requires running, jumping, and fast changes of direction, ankle sprains generally occur when the foot rolls to the outside instead of landing on the sole. If you can bear weight, your ankle most likely is not broken, but consider having an X-ray to rule out a hairline fracture. Prevention involves strengthening the quadriceps, glutes, and hamstrings to promote stability, and wearing an ankle brace if you are prone to weak ankles. Rest for a day, and then start gentle strengthening and range of motion exercises.

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If you are ready to start your physical therapy journey with a team you can trust, contact Radical Physical Therapy at (732) 662-4400 to schedule your appointment.