09 December 2019
| THE HEARTBEAT OF WOMEN'S SPORT

The most common sporting injuries – and how to avoid them

June 12, 2009

Research from the New Zealand centre of Physiotherapy Research has identified the ten most common sporting injuries. Last week we looked at those that affect the leg and foot, here we consider those that affect the rest of the body, and with help from two top physiotherapists we show you how to avoid them.

1. Shoulder injuries

How is it caused?

Throwing, falling or impact during sport can cause shoulder injuries.  “Overuse often causes impingement (pinching) and inflammation of the tendons around the shoulder,” explains Coates.  “This is often a result of muscle imbalances,” she adds.

Who’s at risk?

Racket sports players, cricketers (over head bowlers) and rugby players are most at risk.  There is also risk involved for skiers and snowboarders where controlled falling is not always an option.

What’s the prevention?

Coates recommends strength and conditioning work that is not only sports specific but also varied to maintain overall functional strength and flexibility.  “Maintaining good posture and trying to minimise one-sided strength dominance in the core and trunk muscles minimises risk of strains in other areas of the body,” she adds.

2. Low back disorders

How might it be caused?

Poor technique when lifting heavy objects or doing weight bearing exercise is a likely cause.  “Repetitive actions when moving a load and the development of muscle imbalance can lead to lower back problems,” says Lawrence.

Who’s at risk?

Weightlifters and sports people who train using weight programmes often suffer especially those with lifting poor technique.

What’s the prevention?

Ensure you lift weights and heavy objects with correct technique and stretch the lower back area to keep muscles supple.  Lawrence recommends using a foam roller to release any overactive muscles.  “Place the foam roll horizontally underneath your body and roll yourself over it, supporting your head.”

3. Neck pain

How might it be caused?

According to Coates there is a link between neck and shoulder problems.  “If you have a muscle imbalance around the shoulder as a result of your sport (see shoulder injuries) this could also cause neck pain,” she says.

Who’s at risk?

Neck pain is most common in rugby players from the strain of impact in the scrum.

What’s the prevention?

Coates recommends assessing your posture to ensure the neck is in a good position. She also recommends deep tissue massage to keep neck muscles supple.

4. Rib and thoracic sprains

How might it be caused?

These types of sprains can be caused by a direct blow or poor sporting posture. Lawrence also highlights overtraining as a cause.  “People who have excessively trained to the point that their breathing rate has become very fast, will find that the muscles in between their ribs fatigue, causing them to ache.”

Who’s at risk?

This type of pain commonly occurs in contact sports such as boxing.  Racquet sport players who repetitively move their upper limbs are also prone to stress fractures of the ribs.

What’s the prevention?

“If the problem is postural, again a foam roller is great,” says Lawrence.  “Place the roller perpendicular to your body and roll it over the thoracic spine using your legs to propel yourself backwards and forwards.”

5. Hip and thigh injuries

How might they be caused?

“These injuries can be related to the muscles of the thigh or the hip joint,” explains Coates.  “They are often caused by impact which can cause bruising and contusions to the thigh and strains to the groin.”

Who’s at risk?

Rugby players and those involved in sports that can result in impact like hockey and football.  Coates also lists cyclists, ice hockey players and inline skaters as being as risk as impingement of the hip capsule and the lining of the hip joint is common in cycling and sports using skates.

What’s the prevention?

“Good flexibility of the groin and skills drills that work the groin through its full range [of motion] will reduce risk of injury,” says Coates. The right footwear is also crucial.

Kristoph Thompson, Sportsister
The Women’s Sports Magazine

Related features on Sportsister:

The most common leg and foot injuries – and how to avoid them

Biomechanical assessments – can they transform your running?

Sportsister picks three of the best muscle rubs

The importance of rest and recovery

How to avoid shin splints during marathon training

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