The Top 5 Most Common Men’s Sports Injuries
Men are being encouraged to take part in more sports and fitness activities than ever before, but at what personal risk?
Bruises, scrapes and strains are common occurrences for professional athletes that train and workout each day, but sports injuries can affect anyone – from the man who works 9 to 5 and just manages to squeeze in a game of five-a-side football at weekends, to the pals that meet up for squash once a week. In fact, recreational sports injuries can be especially difficult to deal with for non-professional athletes, as they typically have a full-time job and may ignore the injury amidst all the other aspects of their busy lives. So, to offer occasional sport players a little help, we’re taking a look at the five most common men’s sports injuries, and how they can be treated quickly and effectively to reduce their impact on daily life.
1 – Plantar Fasciitis
Otherwise known as ‘Policeman’s Heel,’ plantar fasciitis is a strain of the tendon on the arch of the foot. This tendon strain can develop in any a number of ways, and it usually afflicts those playing sports that require lots of running and sprinting. It is a common injury with men that play squash and tennis on hard court surfaces, as players are often required to sprint short distances during a game. The symptoms for this injury are a sharp or dull pain in the sole or arch of the foot.
Rehab advice: Plantar fasciitis usually develops over a prolonged period of time, and it can be a number of weeks or even months before it is fully healed. Tips for rehabilitation include rolling your foot over a golf ball to stretch the tendon, changing trainers, wearing thick sports socks, and properly stretching the foot and achilles tendon before sports activity.
2 – Ankle Sprain
An ankle sprain, or twisted ankle, is when an individual rolls their ankle during sports activity, causing the ankle to turn inwards. As the ankle turns in an unorthodox manner, ligaments and tendons become stretched, and in some serious cases, will tear or rupture. Ankle sprains are common injuries in football, but can also occur in anyone who is running and misplaces a step, or landing awkwardly after a jump. A minor ankle sprain will resolve itself after some rest or simple stretching of the ankle joint, however a more serious injury can require extensive physiotherapy treatment or even surgery in the case of a full ligament tear.
Rehab advice: The RICE method of recovery – rest, ice, compression and elevation – is favored among most physiotherapists as it ensures the ankle gets total rest from both movement and supporting body weight. Once the swelling has subsided and ankle flexibility increases, simple balancing exercises and cycling will help to strengthen the ankle. Some important advice to note is that the individual should be able to jump on the injured ankle without feeling any pain, and only then should they contemplate running or undertaking more strenuous physical activity or exercise.
3 – Knee Ligament Strain
The knee is a large and complex joint that contains a number of ligaments, cartilage and meniscus. Prolonged sporting activity such as long distance running, or intense sports that involve twisting and turning, routinely cause strains of the knee ligaments. Due to the complexity of the knee, many small ligament strains can cause little more than discomfort in the joint, while a serious strain or tear such as an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury will require surgery and possibly up to 12 months of rehabilitation.
Rehab advice: The RICE method, as previously discussed, is also beneficial for knee ligament strains. Once the knee joint regains strength, many physiotherapists will focus on rebuilding muscle strength, particularly along the hamstrings and quads. One way to avoid a serious knee ligament strain is to only play sports like soccer or basketball if fit enough to do so.
4 – Quad Strain
The quad muscle is one of the largest and strongest muscles in the body. It helps your legs carry your entire body weight and is constantly in use during sports and physical activity. A strain of this muscle will be uncomfortable and can severely restrict movement. Quad strains most commonly occur when the individual has not warmed up properly and then tries a strenuous activity such as sprinting. Strains can also occur when the muscle is simply overstretched or overused at a particular point in time.
Rehab advice: A thorough and effective warm-up before sporting activity is strongly advised, and this includes both using and stretching the quad muscle. If a strain or tear does occur, massages on the injured area are recommended as they will help to loosen the muscle and prevent the buildup of lactic acid. Once the muscle begins to heal, strengthening exercises such as lunges and resistance stepping should help restore the muscle to its previous state.
5 – Hamstring Pull
Out fifth and final most common men’s sport injury is the hamstring pull. Similar to the quad strain, sporting activity which puts added stress on the leg muscles increases the risk of a hamstring tear. In particular, this risk is greater in individuals that play sports which involve kicking and jumping. Hamstring pulls are normally classified on a scale of one to three; one being a muscle pull, two a medium grade tear and three a complete tear.
Rehab advice: Physiotherapy sessions for hamstring pulls will exclusively focus on rebuilding muscle and removing any lingering scar tissue. If scar tissue remains within the muscle, it can result in repeat injuries in the future, hence why it is important to build hamstring strength. Exercises that work the leg muscles without placing stress on the joints are usually done first, followed by specific muscle strengthening work using weights and body weight.
Sports injuries can happen to anyone, at any time, and while injuries are not entirely preventable, there are a number of ways to help reduce the risk of injury, such as a thorough warm-up before sporting activity and proper stretching of muscles before and after sports. Probably the best advice of all, however, is to simply listen to your body – if you feel like your muscles are at a breaking point, that’s because they probably are.