It’s time to stop ignoring sports injuries – a cautionary reminder for athletes

Whether we’re talking about strains, sprains or concussions, sports injuries are quite common among professional and amateur athletes. Obviously, certain sports such as hockey, rugby, boxing or racing have a higher degree of risk and can lead to more serious accidents and injuries, but there’s no athletic activity that’s completely exempt from hazards. When you engage in any kind of sport, the possibility of getting injured is ever-present. While some are lucky enough to get away with a few minor bruises and scratches, others may end up in the emergency room or even lose their life in a sporting event. 

However, what’s truly concerning is not the risk of getting injured when playing sports but people’s attitude in this respect. We’ve come to accept sports injuries as normality and thus minimise their impact. Since injuries in sports have become part of the job description, people tend to pay less importance to the short- and long-term damages they can cause. We’re used to hearing phrases like no pain, no gain or rub some dirt in it when a player experiences some kind of health-related issue. Unfortunately, some people take these words much too literally.  

Athletes often develop a risky mentality, thinking they need to push through the pain and push themselves to their physical limits both in training and in competitions in order to achieve their goals. So, they end up brushing off health symptoms even when their bodies tell them they need to stop.  

The risks of leaving sports injuries untreated 

While it’s true that a certain amount of pain is expected when playing sports, ignoring persistent symptoms is never a good idea. What starts out as a minor issue can soon turn into a major health problem if you don’t get adequate treatment on time. Also, if you go to a doctor’s appointment and you’re not completely honest about the symptoms you’re experiencing because you fear they might ask you to take a break from playing sports, that can result in a misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose. As Medical Negligence Claims Care explain, these situations are the reason for many medical malpractice lawsuits, but if you’re partly responsible for what happened to you, things can get a lot more complicated.

Many athletes are simply not aware of the risks they expose themselves to when they ignore the pain and other tell-tale symptoms of a health issue and turn what could have been an easy-to-fix problem like an overuse condition or swollen muscles into something much bigger. If doctors can spot a medical issue early on, they can intervene and prescribe an adequate course of treatment for it. Healing rates are higher when you act on time, and you’ll be able to get back on the playing field sooner. But if you continue to play despite your injuries, you might require surgery or a much more complicated treatment at best. Besides, there’s no guarantee that the treatment or the surgery will be able to fix all the damages, and this might leave you with limited mobility and chronic pain or render you unable to perform at the same level you once did.       

Another aspect that you need to consider when dealing with sports injuries is the long-term consequences they entail. If you’re a professional athlete, it’s not just the health complications that you should worry about but also the impact these issues may have on your career. A neglected injury can keep you on the bench for a long period of time or even force you to give up your ambitions and dreams and end your career a lot sooner than expected. 

Therefore, the better safe than sorry is a much wiser approach than the no pain, no gain cliché.

Common types of sports injuries 

It’s important to learn about the different types of sports injuries and how they manifest in order to identify the symptoms with greater accuracy and know when medical investigations are required. Sports injuries can be caused by overuse, improper warm-ups, inadequate equipment, accidents, or direct impact. The most common sports injuries include:

  • Sprains – these injuries happen when you overstretch the connective tissue that holds your bones together in a joint, also known as ligaments, which can result in swelling, bruising and pain. 
  • Strains – strains are caused by overstretching or tearing muscles or tendons and can lead to muscle spasms, pain, swelling and limited flexibility. 
  • Cuts and abrasions – minor slashes and bruises caused by accidents, falls or hits. 
  • Knee injuries – they involve damage to the tissue or muscles in the knee.
  • Bone fractures – damages to the bone ranging from minor cracks to broken bones that can lead to pain, loss of function or open bleeding wounds.
  • Swollen muscles – swelling can happen when the muscles are torn or overstretched.
  • Dislocations – these occur when two bones in a joint come apart, causing pain, loss of motion, numbness, or tingling.  
  • Concussions – mild to severe blows to the head that can lead to loss of consciousness, dizziness, headaches, or short-term memory loss.  

Guidelines for injury prevention 

Although it’s not possible to avoid all sports injuries, risks can be greatly reduced by taking preventative measures and following a few basic guidelines. 

The first thing you need to do before engaging in any type of psychical activity is to warm up properly. A few minutes of stretching and warming up your muscles increases blood flow and flexibility, reducing the risk of injury and improving performance. 

Wearing adequate gear for the type of sport you perform can also protect you against injuries. Protective sports equipment such as helmets, mouth guards, safety pads, athletic shoes, and other body protections can keep you safe when you step on the playing field.

Knowing the rules of the game as well as developing fundamental moving skills and techniques can make a difference to your health and safety. That’s why regular training is a must if you want to avoid accidents and injuries.

Last but not least, you need to listen to your body’s signals. It’s important to know your limits and stop at the right time. A safety-first approach will help you prevent burnout, accidents and all the other health-related issues stemming from it.