Sports injury

Player getting ankle taped at an American football game in Mexico
A tennis injury
Tackles like this one in women's Australian rules football can cause injuries.
Ryan Miller of the Buffalo Sabres suffers an ankle sprain.

Sports injuries are injuries that occur in athletic activities or exercising. They can result from accidents, poor training technique in practice, inadequate equipment, and overuse of a particular body part. In the United States there are about 30 million teenagers and children alone that participate in some form of organized sport. About 3 million avid sports competitors 14 years of age and under experience sports injuries annually, which causes some loss of time of participation in the sport.[1] The leading cause of death involving sports-related injuries, although rare, is brain injuries. When injured the two main systems affected are the nervous and vascular systems. The origins in the body where numbness and tingling occurs upon sports injuries are usually the first signs of the body telling you that the body was impacted.[2] Thus, when an athlete complains of numbness and especially tingling, the key to a diagnosis is to obtain a detailed history of the athlete’s acquired symptom perception, determine the effect the injury had on the body and its processes, and then establish the prime treatment method. In the process to determine what exactly happened in the body and the standing effects most medical professionals choose a method of technological medical devices to acquire a credible solution to the site of injury. Prevention helps reduce potential sport injuries. It is important to establish participation in warm-ups, stretching, and exercises that focus on main muscle groups commonly used in the sport of interest. Also, creating an injury prevention program as a team, which includes education on rehydration, nutrition, monitoring team members “at risk”, monitoring behavior, skills, and techniques.[3] Season analysis reviews and preseason screenings are also beneficial reviews for preventing player sport injuries. One technique used in the process of preseason screening is the functional movement screen. The functional movement screen can assess movement patterns in athletes in order to find the at risk players. Following various researches about sport injuries shows that levels of anxiety, stress, and depression are elevated. A study in 2010 found that athletes with severe sports injuries would display higher levels of post-traumatic distress and the higher the levels of post-traumatic distress are linked with avoidant coping skills.[4]


Traumatic injuries account for most injuries in contact sports such as ice hockey, association football, rugby league, rugby union, Australian rules football, Gaelic football and American and Canadian football because of the dynamic and high collision nature of these sports. Collisions with the ground, objects, and other players are common, and unexpected dynamic forces on limbs and joints can cause injury.

Traumatic injuries can include:

In sports medicine, a catastrophic injury is defined as severe trauma to the human head, spine, or brain.

Concussions in sports became a major issue in the United States in the 2000s, as evidence connected repeated concussions and subconcussive hits with chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) and increased suicide risk. CTE is a progressive degenerative disease of the brain found in people with a history of repetitive brain trauma, including symptomatic concussions as well as subconcussive hits to the head that do not cause symptoms. It is most pronounced in football, and a related ailment (dementia pugilistica) afflicts boxers, but is also seen in other sports, and in females and adolescents.

Overuse and repetitive stress injury problems associated with sports include:

Some activities have particular risks; see:

Sports medicine

Main article: Sports medicine

Injuries are a common occurrence in professional sports and most teams have a staff of athletic trainers and close connections to the medical community. Many retain team physicians.

Controversy has arisen at times when teams have made decisions that could threaten a players long-term health for short term gain. Sports medicine is the study and research of injuries in sport in order to prevent or reduce the severity of the injury.

Soft tissue injuries

Main article: Soft tissue injury

When soft tissue experiences trauma, the dead and damaged cells release chemicals, which initiate an inflammatory response. Inflammation is characterized by pain, localized swelling, heat, redness and a loss of function. Small blood vessels are damaged and opened up, producing bleeding within the tissue. In the body's normal reaction, a small blood clot is formed in order to stop this bleeding and from this clot special cells (called fibroblasts) begin the healing process by laying down scar tissue.

The inflammatory stage is therefore the first phase of healing. However, too much of an inflammatory response in the early stage can mean that the healing process takes longer and a return to activity is delayed. Sports injury treatments are intended to minimize the inflammatory phase of an injury, so that the overall healing process is accelerated. Intrinsic and extrinsic factors are determinant for the healing process.[5]

Further information: Healing


Prevention helps reduce potential sport injuries and provides several benefits. Some benefits include a healthier athlete, longer duration of participation in the sport, potential for better performance, and reduced medical costs. Explaining the benefits to participate in sports injury prevention programs to coaches, team trainers, sports teams, and individual athletes will give them a glimpse at the likelihood for success by having the athletes feeling they are healthy, strong, comfortable, and capable to compete.

Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary Prevention

Prevention can be broken up into three broad categories of primary, secondary, and tertiary prevention.[3] Primary prevention involves the avoidance of injury. An example is ankle braces being worn as a team, even those with no history of previous ankle injuries. If primary prevention activities were effective, there would be a lesser chance of injuries occurring in the first place. Secondary prevention involves an early diagnosis and treatment should be acquired once an injury has occurred. The goal of obtaining early diagnosis is to ensure that the injury is receiving proper care and recovering correctly, therefore limiting the concern for other medical problems to stem from the initial traumatic event. Lastly, tertiary prevention is solely focused on the rehabilitation to reduce and correct an existing disability resulting from the traumatic event. An example in the case of an athlete who has obtained an ankle injury the rehabilitation would consist of balance exercises to acquire the strength and mobility back as well as wearing an ankle brace, while gradually returning to the sport.

Season Analysis

It is most essential to establish participation in warm-ups, stretching, and exercises that focus on main muscle groups commonly used in the sport of interest. Participation in these events decreases the chances for getting muscle cramps, torn muscles, and stress fractures. A season analysis is one of the beneficial reviews for preventing player sport injuries. A season analysis is an attempt to identify risks before they occur by reviewing training methods, the competition schedule, traveling, and past injuries. If injuries have occurred in the past, the season analysis reviews the injury and looks for patterns to see if it may be related to a specific training event or competition program. For example, a stress fracture injury on a soccer team or cross country team may be correlated to a simultaneous increase in running and a change in running environment, like a transition from a soft to hard running surface. A season analysis can be documented as team-based results or individual athlete results. Other key program events that have been correlated to injury incidences are changes in training volume, changes in climate locations, selection for playing time in important matches, and poor sleep due to tight chaotic scheduling.[3] It is important for team program directors and staff to implicate testing in order to ensure healthy, competitive, and confident athletes for their upcoming season.

Preseason Screening

Another beneficial review for preventing player sport injuries is preseason screenings. A study found that the highest injury rate during practices across fifteen Division I, II, and III NCAA sports was in the preseason compared to in-season or postseason[6] To prepare an athlete for the wide range of activities needed to partake in their sport pre-participation examinations are regularly completed on hundreds of thousands of athletes each year. It is extremely important that the physical exam is done properly in order to limit the risks of injury and also to diagnose early onsets of a possible injury. Preseason screenings consist of testing the mobility of joints (Ankles, wrists, hips, etc.), testing the stability of joints (knees, neck, etc.), testing the strength and power of muscles, and also testing breathing patterns. The objective of a preseason screening is to clear the athlete for participation and verify that there is no sign of injury or illness, which would represent a potential medical risk to the athlete (and risk of liability to the sports organization).[3] Besides the physical examination and the fluidity of the movements of joints the preseason screenings often takes into account a nutrition aspect as well. It is important to maintain normal iron levels, blood pressure levels, fluid balance, adequate total energy intake, and normal glycogen levels. Nutrition can aid in injury prevention and rehabilitation, if one obtains the body's daily intake needs. Obtaining sufficient amount of calories, carbohydrates, fluids, protein, and vitamins and minerals is important for the overall health of the athlete and limits the risk of possible injuries.[7] Iron deficiency, for example, is found in both male and female athletes; however 60 percent of female college athletes are affected by iron deficiency.[7] There are many factors that can contribute to the loss in iron, like menstruation, gastrointestinal bleeding, inadequate iron intake from the diet, general fatigue, weakness, among others. The consequences of iron deficiency, if not solved, can be an impaired athletic performance and a decline in immune and cognitive function.[8]

Functional Movement Screen

One technique used in the process of preseason screening is the Functional Movement Screen (FMS). Functional movement screening is an assessment used to evaluate movement patterns and asymmetries, which can provide insight into mechanical restrictions and potential risk for injury. Functional movement screening contains seven fundamental movement patterns that require a balance of both mobility and stability. These fundamental movement patterns provide an observable performance of basic locomotor, manipulative, and stabilizing movements. The tests place the individual athlete in extreme positions where weaknesses and imbalances become clear if proper stability and mobility is not functioning correctly.[9] The seven fundamental movement patterns are a deep squat, hurdle step, in-line lunge, shoulder mobility, active straight-leg raise, trunk stability push-up, and rotary stability. For example, the deep squat is a test that challenges total body mechanics. It is used to gauge bilateral, symmetrical, and functional mobility of the hips, knees, and ankles. The dowel held overhead gauges bilateral and symmetrical mobility of the shoulders and the thoracic spine. The ability to perform the deep squat technique requires appropriate pelvic rhythm, closed-kinetic chain dorsiflexion of the ankles, flexion of the knees and hips, extension of the thoracic spine, as well as flexion and abduction of the shoulders.[10] There is a scoring system applied to each movement as follows a score of 3 is given to the athlete if they can perform the movement without any compensations, a score of 2 is given to the athlete if they can perform the movement, but operate on poor mechanics and compensatory patterns to achieve the movement, a score of 1 is given to the athlete if they cannot perform the movement pattern even with compensations, and finally, a 0 is given to the athlete if one has pain during any part of the movement or test. Three of the seven fundamental tests including shoulder mobility, trunk stability push-up, and rotary stability have a clearance scoring associated with them meaning a pass or fail score. If the athlete fails this part of the test a score of 0 is given as the overall score. Once the scoring is complete the athlete and medical professional can review the documentation together and organize a set prevention program to help target and strengthen the areas of weakness in order to limit the risks of possible injuries.[9][11]


Interventions targeted at decreasing the incidence of sports injuries can impact health-care costs,as well as family and societal resources.[12]

Sport Injury Prevention for Kids

There are approximately 8,000 children treated in emergency rooms each day for sports-related injures.[13] It is also estimated that there are around 1.35 million kids suffering from sports-related injuries per year worldwide.[14] This is why children need special attention and care when participating in sports.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), many sports-related injuries are predictable and preventable.[15]

Sport involvement can initiate both physical and mental demands on athletes. From youth little leagues to competing at a professional level, athletes are forced to learn ways to cope with stressors and frustrations that can arise from competition against others. Conducted research shows that levels of anxiety, stress, and depression are elevated following sports injuries.[4] The pressure athletes experience is extensive; branching from coaches, parents, peers, and audiences. It is astonishing how one individual can endure so much pressure and remain so calm and collected. Positive mental motivation however is not experienced all the time. The pressure to win can cause significant emotional stress for an athlete. Many athletes experience the stressor involving winning as being the most important aspect of the match. If the match is not won, many athletes are punished and criticized for the loss, instead of being commended on their effort, sportsmanship, and hard work. Nearly two million people every year suffer sports-related injuries and receive treatment in emergency departments.[16] Fatigue is a contributing factor that results in many sport injuries. As an athlete there are times where you may run on low energy leading to the deterioration in technique or form, which results in a slower reaction time, and finally a loss in stability of muscle joints and an injury. After an occurrence of an injury many athletes display self-esteem issues, athletic identity crises, and high levels of post-traumatic distress, which are linked to avoidant coping skills.[4][17]

Psychological Stressors


Sports injuries can be treated and managed by using the P.R.I.C.E.S., D.R. A.B.C., T.O.T.A.P.S and R.I.C.E.R regimes:

P – Protect
R – Rest
I – Ice
C – Compression
E – Elevation
S - Stabilize
D – Danger
R – Response
A – Airway
B – Breathing
C – Circulation
T – Talk
O – Observe
T – Touch
A – Active movement
P – Passive movement
S – Skills test
R - Rest 
I - Ice
C - Compression 
E - Elevation
R - Referral
S - Stop
A - Ask
L - Look 
T - Touch
A - Active movement
P - Passive movement 
S - Stand up 

The primary inflammatory stage typically lasts around 5 days and all treatment during this time is designed to address the cardinal signs of inflammation – pain, swelling, redness, heat and a loss of function.

Compression sportswear is becoming very popular with both professional and amateur athletes. These garments are thought to both reduce the risk of muscle injury and speed up muscle recovery.

Portable Mild Hyperbaric Chamber 40" diameter

Although not proven some professional athletes use hyperbaric chambers to speed healing. Hines Ward of the Steelers sent his personal hyperbaric chamber (similar to the one pictured) to his hotel to sleep in believing it would help heal his sprained medial collateral ligament he suffered in their playoff win against the Ravens. Hines went on to play in Super Bowl XLIII.

Famous people who had sports injuries

See also


  1. "Sports Injury Statistics". Children's Hospital of Wisconsin. Retrieved 28 March 2016.
  2. Herring, Stanley A.; Akuthota, Venu (2009). Nerve and Vascular Injuries in Sports Medicine. London; New York: Springer. ISBN 9780387765990. Retrieved 28 March 2016.
  3. 1 2 3 4 Bager, Roald; Engebretsen, Lars (2009). Sports Injury Prevention. Chichester, UK; Hoboken, NJ: Wiley-Blackwell. ISBN 9781405162449. Retrieved 28 March 2016.
  4. 1 2 3 O'Connor, John William (2010). "Emotional Trauma in Athletic Injury and the Relationship Among Coping Skills, Injury Severity, and Post Traumatic Stress". ProQuest Dissertations Publishing. Retrieved 28 March 2016.
  5. 'Intrinsic and Extrinsic Risk Factors for Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injury in Australian Footballers' by John Orchard, Hugh Seward, Jeanne McGivern and Simon Hood
  6. "Epidemiology of Collegiate Injuries for 15 Sports
  7. 1 2 "Nutrition and the Injured Athlete". NCAA. Retrieved 24 April 2016.
  8. Rowland, Thomas (2012). "Iron Deficiency in Athletes". American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine. SAGE Publications. Retrieved 24 April 2016.
  9. 1 2 Cook, Gray; Burton, Lee (2006). "Pre-Participation Screening: The Use of Fundamental Movements as an Assessment of Function – Part 1". North American Journal Of Sports Physical Therapy. 1: 62–72. PMC 2953313Freely accessible. PMID 21522216.
  10. Cook, Gray; Burton, Lee (2006). "The Functional Movement Screen" (PDF). Retrieved 24 April 2016.
  11. Beardsley, Chris; Contreras, Bret (2014). "The Functional Movement Screen". Strength and Conditioning Journal. ISSN 1524-1602. Retrieved 25 April 2016.
  12. 1 2 Haider, Adil H.; Saleem, Taimur; Bilaniuk, Jaroslaw W.; Barraco, Robert D. "An evidence-based review". Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery. 73 (5): 1340–1347. doi:10.1097/ta.0b013e318270bbca.
  13. 'Statistics on Youth Sports Safety by SWATA'
  14. '1.35 million youths a year have serious sports injuries' by USA Today
  15. Legislator's Page by At Your Own Risk Retrieved 8 Nov 2016
  16. Misra, Arpit (March 17, 2014). "Common Sports Injuries: Incidence and Average Charges" (PDF). U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. ASPE Office of Health Policy. Retrieved 28 March 2016.
  17. Smith, A.M.; Nippert, A.H. (2008). "Psychologic Stress Related to Injury and Impact on Sport Performance". Department of Kinesiology and Health Sciences. Concordia University- St. Paul, MN. 19: 399–418, x. doi:10.1016/j.pmr.2007.12.003. PMID 18395654.


Further reading

  1. Hootman, Jennifer; Dick, Randall; Agel, Julie (2007). "Epidemiology of Collegiate Injuries for 15 Sports: Summary and Recommendations for Injury Prevention Initiatives". Journal of Athletic Training. 42 (2): 311–319.
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