Most Common Sports Injuries | Treatment | Causes | Prevention

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Table of contents:

What are sports injuries?

What are the types of sports injuries?

Which area of the human body is more prone to injuries?

What are the most common sports injuries?

Causes of most common sports injuries

What is the treatment for most common sports injuries?

How can we prevent common sports injuries?

Are females more prone to sports injuries?

Common sports injuries

3.2 million people treated in 2021 in emergency rooms for sports and recreational equipment injuries. Among these the most common injuries were biking, exercise, and basketball injuries. Age of affected people ranged from 25 to 60 years. However, the causes of sports injuries in young and old age may differ, as discussed below:

What are sports injuries?

Sports injuries are the injuries during sports activities, exercise or active movements. These injuries can occur in sedentary or active individuals either male or female. Active movements that lead to mild injuries are our daily life activities like jogging, running, playing badminton in backyard, playing any indoor game, jumping, etc. While injuries due to exercise (any activity increasing the heartbeat, blood pressure, pulse rate, and breathing rate by performing a set of reps with overall of aim of increasing strength) can be more severe than those caused by active movements. However, sports injuries might include damage to ligaments, tendons, muscles, bones, joints, articular cartilage, menisci, bursae, and other structures. These injuries can be due to repetitive or sudden trauma. Common injuries involve knee joint injuries, shoulder joint injuries, ankle tendon injuries, etc.

What are the types of sports injuries?

Broadly speaking, there are 2 types of sports injuries:

  • Acute: Involving sudden trauma
  • Chronic: Involving repetitive stress and overuse.

However, sports injuries are also categorized into following types:

Musculoskeletal injuries involve muscles, bones, ligaments, tendons, and several other structures.

Common sports injuries: Injuries that occur commonly during sports activities and cause severe damage.

Which area of the human body is more prone to injuries?

Hands & fingers are the most sensitive areas of the body but If we’ll talk about intense sports, the following areas of the human body are more prone to sports injuries, along with the symptoms of respiratory and digestive problems:

Common sports injuries

Diagram of the human body. The sections show the most commonly injured areas identified by the participants. The color of the areas shows the ratio (%) of the injuries in each area. The labeling of each area shows the sports discipline that was reported to cause the injury in that area. (A) Anterior view of the human body. (B) Posterior view of the human body. [1]

What are the most common sports injuries?

Following Sports injuries more commonly occur:

  • Football injuries
  • Weightlifting injuries
  • Basketball injuries
  • Tennis injuries
  • Bicycling injuries
  • Badminton injuries
  • Hockey injuries
  • Golf injuries
  • Archery injuries
  • Shooting injuries

Injury to a specific body part depends upon the way the game is played. Ankle sprains are more common in footballers but can also occur in basketball or tennis players if they perform an intense high jump. Following are the sports that cause more serious and common sports injuries:


Most injuries occur during football. Most of the football injuries are due to its repetitive nature of the sport and the high impact that comes with it. The following are the most common football injuries involving upper and lower limbs:

Lower limb football injuries:

  • Ankle sprains (Achilles tendon injury): Achilles tendon stretches from the heel bone to the calf muscles at the back of the ankle. You might hear a popping sound when this tendon’s tear occurs, combined with the pain above the heel, and difficulty in raising your toes while moving. Inflammation of the complete Achilles tendon or its part me occurs, known as Achilles tendinitis. These injuries involving the Achilles tendon are more common in football.
  • Knee injuries (ACL, MCL, and Meniscus tears): Medial and anterior collateral ligaments are the strong ligaments of the knee. Besides their significance, they are more likely to be damaged during sports injuries. Acting with the lateral collateral ligament, the medial collateral ligament prevents side-by-side dislocation at the knee joint. Another tear is the meniscus tear. Meniscus is a crescent moon-shaped cartilage located between the articular surface of the femur and tibia bones. One on the medial side and the other on the lateral side of the knee. It distributes the weight over the entire knee joint, reduces friction, and provides a cushioning effect. Damage to this structure causes opposite effects of its functions. Meniscus tears occur when the leg is twisted and flexed (bending position) which is frequently used during football.
  • Hamstrings & Quadriceps injuries: Hamstrings are the muscles present at the back of your thigh while quadriceps are the muscles present in front of your thigh. During a football kick, these muscles or tendons can get damaged.

Upper limb football injuries:

  • Shoulder joint dislocations: The shoulder is mostly dislocated in posterior (backward), anterior (forward), and inferior (downward) directions. Superior (upward) dislocation is rare due to a strong ligament, the coracohumeral ligament, present superior to the shoulder joint.
  • Wrist & hand injuries: Goalkeepers are more prone to this type of sports injury. When a goalkeeper stops the football, hyperextension of the wrist, sudden force on carpal bones, and outstretched hand cause wrist fractures. While the inflammation of the hand’s palmar fascia can also occur.

Weightlifting injuries:

Heavy weight training in the gym is the most common reason for sports injuries. Deadlifts, bench presses, repetitive wrist exercises, etc., are more common and can cause shin bone fracture, shoulder dislocation, muscle injuries, elbow bursitis, etc.

Tennis Injuries:

Tennis is a highly intense sport involving active and sudden movements of entire body parts. This predisposes it to many injuries such as discussed below:

  • Tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis): Forearms muscles are present on the outside (lateral side) of the elbow by a tendon. Inflammation of this tendon is known as tennis elbow or lateral epicondylitis. The tennis elbow is so called because it is most commonly seen in tennis players. You may feel pain on the lateral side of the elbow and weak grip during lateral epicondylitis.
  • Rotator cuffs tears (impingement syndrome): A rotator cuff is a cuff-like structure that consists of tendons of four muscles, located superiorly to the shoulder joint. These muscles include Subscapularis, Infraspinatus, Teres Minor, and Supraspinatus. Damage to the rotator cuff is rare by acute injury and common by an overuse injury. It can cause tenderness, weakness, pain in the shoulder region, difficulty in lifting the arm, and a crackling sound in the shoulder joint.
  • Tennis knee (jumper’s knee or patellar tendinitis): Our shin bone (Tibia) is attaches to the kneecap (patella) by the patellar tendon. Active movements of the lower limb during tennis can cause inflammation of this tendon. Landing or high jumping on rough/hard surfaces can cause tennis knees. The affected area in tennis knee involves swelling, pain, redness, and high temperature as compared to surrounding tissues.

Golf injuries:

Tennis and golf injuries are the same, except for a more common injury seen only in golfers, the golfer’s elbow.

  • Golfer’s elbow (medial epicondylitis): Just like the tennis elbow, the golfer’s elbow also involves the inflammation of the tendon of the elbow, but on the medial side.

Causes of most common sports injuries:

If the injury is acute, then a sudden trauma or damage is the cause of injury. While in chronic injury, less stress applied for a long period of time or repeated continuously is the cause. If you are avoiding both of these things but still experiencing injuries, then you may be:

  • Doing work out without warm-up
  • Doing the wrong exercise
  • Right exercise in a wrong way
  • Changing the intensity of weight continuously
  • Training sets rapidly
  • Wearing uncomfortable shoes and clothes
  • Practicing in an unsuitable environment
  • Having had a prior injury
  • Specific variations in the body’s anatomy
  • Taking medications that cause inflammation of tendons and joints

What is the treatment for most common sports injuries?

Sports injuries can be rectified by following treatments:

Treatment for ligaments sprain: 

Take painkillers (paracetamol), apply relieving gel, and Follow the RICE principle:

  • Rest: Rest as much as you can and don’t put any weight on the affected area.
  • Icing: Apply ice packs or ice cubes covered in a cloth, to the injured area every 20 minutes for 3 hours a day.
  • Compression: Apply pressure on the injured area by compressing through a bandage.
  • Elevation: keep the injured area raised by using pillows or something else.

Treatment for tendinitis: 

If the injury is mild then you can apply the same methods used in healing ligament sprain, combined with physical therapy to strengthen the area. If the injury is severe, the following methods must be used to treat tendinitis:

Surgery: Needed only if the case is severe or if the torn tendon has been separated away from the bone.

Dry needling: small and thin needles are inserted in the tendon using ultrasound to stimulate the factors for tendon healing. 

Treatment for bony fractures:

 Bones of the human body are very unique and can regenerate the broken part, but the remodeling process demands rest (literally no movement, except for isometric strengthening exercises) and immobilization in the proper direction for accurate growth. Immobilizing by plaster cast or surgical metal rod insertion is beneficial in this case. However, severe fractures require surgery and surgical traction.

Treatment for muscular injuries:

 Follow the POLICE principle:

  • Protect: protect the affected area from damage by rest.
  • Optimal Load: put gentle loads on the affected area to strengthen it gradually.
  • Icing: Apply ice packs or ice cubes covered in a cloth, to the injured area every 20 minutes for 3 hours a day.
  • Compression: Apply pressure on the injured area by compressing through a bandage.
  • Elevation: keep the injured area raised by using pillows or something else.

How can we prevent common sports injuries?

We can prevent common sports injuries by:

  • Strengthening muscles & bones through weight training and endurance exercises
  • Do warm up before working out
  • Follow the overload principle (increase weight after each set)
  • Avoid rapid training & weight changing
  • Improving diet and sleep patterns
  • Do more and more rest
  • Wear comfortable shoes and clothes
  • Practice in a suitable environment
  • Avoid overwork
  • Consult a doctor before taking any medication (can cause tendinitis)

Are females more prone to sports injuries?

Scientific literature shows that men often have a higher injury rate than women. Traditionally, men have the highest injury rates during the socialization process. Men are considered more at risk and less protected than women. However, no significant gender differences were observed in the present study. [2]


  1. Lee, Y. S., Park, D. S., Oh, J. K., & Kim, S. Y. (2020). Sports injury type and psychological factors affect treatment period and willingness-to-pay: Cross-sectional study. Medicine99(50), e23647.

  2. Prieto-González, P., MartĂ­nez-Castillo, J. L., Fernández-Galván, L. M., Casado, A., Soporki, S., & Sánchez-Infante, J. (2021). Epidemiology of Sports-Related Injuries and Associated Risk Factors in Adolescent Athletes: An Injury Surveillance. International journal of environmental research and public health18(9), 4857.

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