The Most Common Injuries in Sport Explained

One of the elements you can’t avoid if you want to become a professional athlete, apart from hard work and sacrifice, are sports injuries. Injuries can be small, like a little tweak in your back, intense pain, or general tightness in your upper or lower extremities, but regardless of their intensity and location, unfortunately, they are an integral part of life of every athlete out there.

common sports injuries to avoid

Let’s find out which sports injuries are the most common, and what you can and must do if you want to cure them.

Sure, it’s pretty easy to spot a serious injury, such as a broken bone, but more often than not in sports, some of the injuries, even the worst ones, can often be invisible to the naked eye without further testing. However, there are some signs which indicate how serious of an injury you are dealing with.

These date back to ancient Rome and the time of Roman encyclopedist Aulus Cornelius Celsus, who established the four cardinal signs of injury:

Dolor, which means “pain” in Latin. This is a clear indicator of most injuries. It’s simple: if something that is not supposed to hurt is hurting, you are dealing with an injury.

Tumor, which is Latin “swelling”. Swelling is also one of the signs that accompanies most injuries, even the mildest ones. It is a warning that you should seek immediate help instead of pushing through the pain and risking a more severe injury.

Rubor, which is Latin for “redness”. Injured areas are usually red because of the increased blood flow to the injured area, which speeds up the healing.

Calor, which means “heat” in Latin. This one usually appears together with redness. As the body heals, it releases energy, which manifests itself as heat.

Tendon and Muscle Injuries

Tendon and muscle injuries are the most common type of injuries among professional athletes, as well those who lead active lives. Tendons are designed to keep your muscles attached to your bones, but, like muscles, they can also become stretched out, or even broken. Based on the severity of injury, professional trainer handbooks separate injuries into three categories:


Grade 1 – Mild Strain: signs that indicate a mild strain are pain, which is not very intense, as well as minimal swelling, or no swelling at all. A mild strain is usually a less serious injury. It is a result of an overstretched tendon, or perhaps small tears in some of the muscle fibers. If no more than 5% of the muscle fibers are torn, you are dealing with a mild strain. This type of injury between 2 and 3 weeks to heal, provided that you get plenty of rest, so that the injured muscle or ligament does not get any worse.


Grade 2 – Serious Strain: more painful that a mild strain, you will be able to recognize it because of the swelling and throbbing. This is because a larger percentage of muscle fibers has been torn. The injured area is very tender to the touch, and you will also be able to see a bruise, which is a result of a damaged blood vessel in the injured area. You may also notice that your movement will become somewhat limited. It takes 3-6 weeks for serious strain to completely heal, and even though self-treatment can prove to be adequate, you should still take the time and consult a professional, just in case.


Grade 3 – Severe Strain: if you happen to severely strain your tendons or muscles, you won’t need to look for signs. You are going to feel it. You may also hear something pop, or find that you are not able to move the injured muscle, or perhaps see the actual tear. Fever may also be one of the signs, and the swelling will be significant. Healing time for this type of injury 3 months or even more. Under no circumstances should you try self-treatment. Go to the emergency room immediately and get help from a trained professional.

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The Healing Process

The healing process goes on in several stages, so let’s take a look each of them in detail.
Destruction Phase – Day 1 to 3: starting with the injury, the injured area fills up with blood, which creates a hematoma, muscle fibers that are broken die, and swelling takes place.

Repair Phase – Day 3 to 14: After the elimination of dead muscle tissue, muscle fibers will begin to regenerate, along with the blood vessel that were ruptured in the injured area and scar tissue.

Ligament Injuries

While muscles are far more likely to get damaged, ligaments, which connect bones to one another and act as support for joints, can also become torn, sprained, or broken. As with tendons and muscles, there are several categories based on the severity of injury:

Grade 1 – Mild Sprain: as a result of the ligament fiber damage, pain and swelling are present.

Grade 2 – Moderate Sprain: apart from more ligament fibers being damaged, pain and swelling, limited range of motion is also one of the signs of a moderate sprain.

Grade 3 – Serious Sprain: intense pain, ruptured ligament, joint instability, swelling, completely limited range of movement.

Chronic Injuries

Chronic injuries develop as a consequence of overusing parts of your body. One common well-known example would be carpal tunnel syndrome, as well as pain in your lower back. As you strain your muscle by keeping it in an unnatural position, you will overuse it, and develop a chronic injury over time.

Signs of chronic injuries are moderate swelling and sharp pain when the muscle is used, and dull pain even when it is resting. They can start off small but develop into serious injuries if not checked.

We hope this little guide has helped you learn more about sports injuries - the origins of the terms and importantly how to try to avoid them. Good luck and stay injury free!

Brad Beckwith

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