How to Manage Common Sports-related Musculoskeletal Injuries

Sports injuries are difficult to avoid among active children and athletes. These injuries may range from simple wounds and bruises to sprains and broken bones. Although these might be discouraging for some people, the fact remains that sports and physical activities are good for your health.

The musculoskeletal system

The human musculoskeletal system, or the locomotor system, is responsible for your body’s framework. It also facilitates movement, protects your vital organs, and plays an important role in blood cell production. It is made up of tissues such as muscles, skeleton, cartilage, joints, tendons, and ligaments.

The musculoskeletal system is often affected by sport-related injuries, especially in younger athletes, since sports and other rigorous physical activities involve movement and put organs under considerable stress.

Common sports-related Injuries

In the United States, approximately 35 million young people participate in different types of sports. Over the past 20 years, there has been an increase in sports injuries among children and teenagers. Younger people acquire such injuries as much as adults, but they are more susceptible to injuries in the growth plate, joint surface, and apophysis.

Such injuries often result from a direct contact, causing trauma to some parts of your musculoskeletal system.


Sprains are injuries to the ligaments, or the connective tissues that attach the person’s bones to his muscles. This might result in tearing or stretching of the tissue. Sprains are fairly common in sports such as basketball or soccer, and occur when players fall and land on the floor in awkward positions, possibly twisting a knee or landing on a side of their foot.

The most common sprains that occur in recreational and professional sports are ankle and wrist sprains. This happens when the player lands on his or her outstretched arm or an outward or inward feet position. The level of severity of sprains varies from mild, swelling ligaments, to complete tears or ruptures which needs surgery to be fixed.


Strains are injuries caused by twisting muscles or tendons and can either be chronic or acute. An acute strain results from trauma or hard blows to the body which causes over-stressing to the body. Meanwhile, a chronic strain result from overuse of muscles and tendons by repetitive movements.

The most common types of strains involve the back, the hamstring, and tendonitis, which is the inflammation of the tendons. These are more common in sports such as football, hockey, wrestling, rowing, and golf. Its severity varies from mild damages to muscle fibers that can heal within 3 weeks, to complete muscle ruptures that require surgery.

Growth Plate Fractures

Growth plates are parts of the bone that are responsible for growth in young children and adolescents. When affected by injuries, this may cause problems to the bone’s future growth. However, this injury is fairly common and needs to be treated to ensure proper bone growth.

Growth plate fractures are classified into different types, with varying intensity and injury type. Its level of intensity and other factors such as the age of the child contribute to how the injury is to be treated. Most of these are treatable with a cast but require adequate care and treatment.

How to manage injuries at home

  • Rest. Sometimes, adequate rest is all it takes for your body to recover. Get some rest and make sure the injured part of your body is not used improperly.
  • Ice. A cold or ice compress helps reduce swelling in the affected area.
  • Compression. Wrapping the affected area with a bandage helps alleviate swelling.
  • Elevation. Try elevating the area higher than your chest level to minimize swelling.

Prevention is better than cure

Accidents happen but there are a few things you can be mindful of, to help lessen the chances of injuries in sports. Some of these are:

  • Wearing compression sleeves. Compression sleeves for shin splints not only reduce pain brought by shin injuries but also prevent further damage and improve blood circulation.
  • Proper warm-up and cool-down exercises. This allows your body to adjust to certain activities.
  • Following the game rules. Do not play dirty or hit other players to purposely inflict injury
  • Being mindful of other players. Watch out for yourself to avoid impact with other players
  • Stop playing when injured. Know when to stop and get rest, or if diagnosed, be sure to get proper treatment before attempting to play again to avoid further injuries and permanent damage.

When to call a doctor

If symptoms of an injury persist after rest and other home management techniques or if obvious compromise of body parts is visible, it is important to see a doctor. This helps to avoid the development of complications and permanent damage and allows the injured person to get back on track and play sports again after recovering.
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