Understanding Some of the Most Common Sports Injuries and Their Causes


Sports injuries pertain to different types of injuries that develop or occur while a person is engaged in sports or exercise. Any part of the body can be injured; the most common ones involve the musculoskeletal system.

The musculoskeletal system supports the movement, stability, and form of the human body – in other words, the weight and the way the body moves. It is made up of muscles, bones, ligaments, soft tissues, and tendons.

Those who are most at risk for sports injuries are the ones who:

  • have no proper warm-up prior to exercise
  • have had no regular training for months or have been inactive for a long time
  • participate in contact sports
  • make a wrong move or movement during exercise or while engaged in a sports activity

Despite the possibility of getting injured, many people continue to play or participate in sports. This is the reason why professional athletes always find time to visit their favorite orthopedic injury clinic. They have to make sure that they are in excellent shape and condition before playing a game or match.

Knowing and understanding the most common sports injuries can help you take extra caution and protect yourself from getting injured. Here are six of the injuries that are most common in sports-related or athletic activities.

Most Common Sports-Related Injuries and What Causes Them


Ligaments are bands or tissues that connect the bones in a joint. When an athlete overstretched or suddenly stretches, his ligaments move the wrong way and tear up or get pulled. This is what causes sprains. Some of the most common examples of this type of sports injury are ankle sprains, elbow sprains, knee sprains, and wrist sprains.

Sprains can take time to heal completely and are often more painful than strains. Also, even after the injury is corrected and healed, the ligaments remain susceptible and can still be injured in the future.


Contrary to what some people think, strains are not the same as sprains. A sprain affects the ligaments, while strains affect an athlete’s muscles. Aside from a sudden pain in the affected area, strains can also cause swelling and bruises.

Strains develop because of overstretching or overextending the muscles. Athletes can also suffer from acute strain when they suddenly change direction, such as what happens when they are lifting, jumping, and running. An example of such is groin strain, which is considered one of the worst injuries athletes can suffer from.

Muscle strains are most common during the cold season.

Strains can limit an athlete’s movements, particularly within the affected area. Treatment for mild and moderate cases is a combination of anti-inflammatory medications and home remedies such as heat or ice compress. Severe cases often require medical treatment. Strains can be acute or chronic.

Knee Injuries and ACL Tear

Knee injuries are common in sports and exercise. The knee works hard in most sports activities and exercises, so it easily wears and tears. These injuries develop when the knee muscles are overstretched and torn.

There are different kinds of knee injuries, but the most common one is anterior cruciate ligament Tear. ACL connects the top of the shinbone and the bottom part of the thigh bone. It helps steady the knee.

An ACL Tear results from a sudden twist or change in the direction of the knee or when an athlete twists his knees upon landing from a jump. Most ACL Tears become swollen a few minutes after the injury, but this usually goes away, and the athlete can walk. However, the knee remains weak and unstable. As such, whether the tear is partial or complete, this type of sports injury requires immediate medical attention.

An ACL Tear’s most common symptoms – aside from swelling – are intense pain and a cracking or popping sound.

Runner’s Knee is another knee injury that’s quite common in sports, especially among runners, bikers, and those who exercise by walking.

Athletes who bump their knees or experience trauma feel pain behind their kneecaps. There may be swelling as well. In some cases, there may also be a kind of grinding sensation whenever the injured athlete bends their knee.

Achilles Tendinitis (Achilles Tendon Injury)

The Achilles Tendon is found at the back of the ankle and can be easily injured. When an athlete ruptures or breaks the tendon, it can swell and be painful in the calf or heel. He’ll have a difficult time walking. A common cause for this type of sports injury is not warming up or stretching before running, walking, or exercising.


Fractures, or broken bones, are common among athletes and people who are into contact sports. This type of injury affects mainly the feet, legs, and arms. The break in the bones can be complete or just a thin or small crack and can be in many places and pieces.

The most common cause of broken fractures is an extra intense pressure or force that impacts the bones, such as in contact sports.


Golfers, cyclists, tennis players, and golfers sometimes do not have enough time to properly stretch before competing or playing. This type of sports injury affects the sciatic nerve, which goes from the lower back all the way to the buttocks, hips, and legs. Although the injury develops typically on one side, sciatica can be excruciating and may limit movement. 

Anti-inflammatory medicine, physical therapy, and rest are the primary remedies for sciatica. For severe cases, immediate medical care is required.

If you want to know more about sports injuries – what they are, what causes them, and how they can be treated – get in touch with a good specialist for orthopedic injuries.

Dr. Charles R. Kaelin received his medical degree from the University of Louisville, Kentucky, and completed his orthopaedic training at Orlando Regional Center in Orlando, Florida. Dr. Kaelin also received training in Sports Medicine at Alabama Sports Medicine with Dr. Lemak, specializing in sports medicine and workman’s compensation injuries. He has been a fellow of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) since 1990. He is a charter member of the International Cartilage Research Society, Founding member of the AAOS Education Enhancement Fund (AAOS) and past editorial board member for the American College of Sports Medicine Health and Fitness Journal.

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