Sports Injuries & How to Avoid Them

by Renee LeGros

What are some major Sport-Related Injuries?


What is it?

The ACL is located running 1 and 1/2 inches long between the Femur and the Tibia whose purpose is to prevent the femur from sliding backwards over the tibia or vice versa. It's a very small ligament, but it serves an important job in the proper functioning of our knee joint.

A Torn ACL is a second- to third-degree sprain which causes the knee to become unstable, buckle, or fail when pressure is applied as the leg is planted on the ground or when attempting to stop or make sudden turns.

Recovery from a torn ACL usually consists of a surgical repair of the ligament and anywhere from 6-9 months of rehabilitation with a physical therapist. Few people suffer lifelong damage to the knee after tearing the ACL, however more than one tear increases the risk of permanent knee damage.

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How does one tear the ACL?

The ACL can be sprained or torn during strenuous sports or activity, generally when the foot is planted firmly on the ground an an attempt is made to turn or twist suddenly on the knee joint while it is locked. Generally the injury occurs while the body is decelerating or preparing to make a rapid change in direction.

A tear of the ACL can also be caused if the tibia is pushed forward against the femur or vice versa. This can happen due to heavy falls, direct impact to the front of the knee area while the foot is planted, or during a car wreck.

How can we prevent an ACL tear?

Simply put, the ACL can best be protected by warming up and stretching before and after any strenuous physical activity. Anyone is at risk for tearing their ACL, no matter what their fitness level is, however keeping an eye on muscle balance, strength, and flexibility through regular strengthening exercises increases your body's ability to withstand stress and prevent a tear. Making sure to land on a knee that is not locked and stressed while jumping, falling, or even running can further prevent damage to the ACL.

Hip Flexor Strain

What is it?

A hip Flexor strain is a sprain or tear of one or more of the hip flexor muscles which allow for the movement of the leg, especially lifting forward. Motions involving the Hip Flexor include high-kicks, bending at the waist, sprinting, and any other forward or outward motion of the leg.

Recovery can take anywhere from 1 week to 6 or more weeks, depending on the severity of the sprain or tear. Recovery tends to involve plenty of rest, strengthening exercise, and physical therapy in more severe cases of tears.

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How does one strain their Hip Flexor Muscle(s)?

Many cases are caused simply by overuse of the muscles. Cycling, running, high jumping, climbing, and gymnastics are some of the biggest activities where a strain are most commonly found. A sprain is most likely to occur during extensive use of the flexor muscles or sudden, abrupt motion of the muscles resulting in the tearing of fibers.

A Grade 1 Tear is when only a small number of muscle fibers are torn, leaving the individual with some pain, but full motion.

Grade 2 Tears consist of a sizable amount of muscle fibers being torn, causing a loss of some range of motion of the leg.

Grade 3 Tears are when all fibers are damaged or torn resulting in the loss of all or most of the individual's range of motion

How can we prevent a Hip Flexor Strain?

The best way to prevent a Hip Flexor Strain is to stretch the flexor muscles before and after a workout by lifting the knee to the chest slowly and relaxed to prepare the muscles for use and to ease them out of strenuous usage.

Preventing yourself from snapping or jerking the leg upwards with lots of force also prevents a tear or strain. To do this, kicking, cycling, and other activities using the flexor muscles should be relaxed and should not feel like too much stress is being placed on the flexor muscles. Knowing the limits of your flexor muscles and not going too far beyond them is key to preventing a strain.

Shin Splints

What Is It?

Shin splints refer to a pain found below the knee around the shin bone, or tibia, after physical activity. It is an inflammation of the muscles and bone tissue generally on the inner or outer areas of the shin and especially where the muscles attach to the bone.

Shin splints can range from swelling of the muscle around the shin, to hairline fractures of the tibia, to tears and inflammation of the tendons connecting the muscles to the tibia.

Recovery from this condition varies based on what kind of shin splint it is. In most cases, plenty of rest from strenuous physical activity will help the condition, where in other, more severe cases, surgical decompression and repairs may become necessary.

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How does one get Shin Splints?

Shin Splints are commonly found in runners and people who put excessive, repetitive force and impact on the shin area. Sudden changes in physical activity or workout routines without easing into the more intense activity are the main cause of Shin Splints. People with flat feet are at a higher risk of getting the condition due to the weight distribution being less than ideal on the shin region.

How can we prevent Shin Splints?

The best way to prevent Shin Splints is to consistently work to strengthen the muscles and tendons in the leg without over-exerting them. Easing into new workout routines or running distances is much safer than jumping right into something new and more intense than your previous workout. A good diet rich in protein, calcium, and important minerals will also help keep your bones from becoming brittle and more susceptible to hairline fractures.

Be sure to stretch and rest properly after a hard workout to allow your body time to heal, rather than jumping from one activity to the next. This reduces risk of inflammation and overuse of the muscles and tibia that lead to Shin Splints.