Most Common Sports Injuries

By: Ehren Allen, DPT, COMT

Most Common Sports Injuries

After sitting at a desk all week, many can’t wait to get outside and do something active.  Whether playing a little tennis or hitting the golf greens, a little “Weekend Warrior” action is just what the doctor ordered. But when you squeeze in those weekend sports, the risk of getting hurt is a reality.  It may be worth knowing what the most common sports injuries are and how you can try to prevent them.

The Most Common Sports Injuries can occur with student athletes and weekend warriors.Most Common Sports Injuries
9 of the most common injuries in sports or athletics are:

  1. Patellofemoral pain
  2. Hamstring strain
  3. Ankle sprain
  4. Shoulder strain or tear
  5. ACL tear
  6. Groin Pull
  7. Shin Splints
  8. Tennis Elbow / Golfer's Elbow
  9. Concussion

These injuries are not in any particular order.  They are all common among student athletes and weekend warriors.

#1 Patellofemoral Pain

Patellofemoral pain is the most common injury with sports.  It involves pain in the knee cap. Patellofemoral Pain comes from excessive rubbing between the surfaces of the kneecap and the end on the thigh bone (femur). It happens with a lot of running and squatting. Going up and down stairs a lot can cause knee cap pain too.

Patellofemoral pain in the most common injury with sportsImage of knee anatomy

Jumping athletes can get patellofemoral pain if they have weak glute muscles. Weak glutes can make the knees shift inward while jumping and running. This causes the knee cap to rub more on the outside on the knee.  Weak muscles in the front of the thigh can also cause knee cap pain.  

Strengthening the thigh and glute muscles can help prevent patellofemoral pain.

#2 Hamstring Strain

Hamstring pulls or strains can happen with quick movement such as running to 1st base during a softball game. It can also happen with dancers and cheerleaders during high leg kicks. The hamstrings are the muscles in the back of the thigh. They run from the back of the pelvis to the back of the knee. A hamstring strain is a tear in the muscle or tendon of the hamstrings. 

Hamstring strains can happen with quick burst movements and high kicks.Image of types of Hamstring Strains

Regular stretching can help keep the hamstring muscles healthy and flexible. This can help prevent straining the Hamstrings. Proper warm up before a sport can also protect the hamstrings from getting hurt. 

To learn more about Healthy Stretching, read this ARTICLE.

#3 Ankle Sprain

Ankle sprains are the most common orthopedic injuryImage of a runner with a sprained ankle

Ankle sprains are one of the most common orthopedic injuries, with or without sports. The most common type of ankle sprain is a lower ankle sprain. This happens if the ankle forcefully rolls inward. With an ankle sprain, it is common to hear a pop and have a lot of swelling in the outer portion of the ankle.  Most of the time, you can still walk on a sprained ankle. If not, it may also be fractured. Either way, it is best to be evaluated by a doctor.

Ankle sprains usually heal well but it can take 6 to 12 weeks, or longer. This is because a sprain is a tear in a ligament.  Ligaments in the ankle do not have much blood supply. That makes it take longer to heal. 

Stretching and proper warm up can help prevent an ankle sprain.  Doing balance exercises can also help.

Watch this VIDEO to learn more about Ankle Sprains.

#4 Shoulder Strain or Dislocation

A strain in the shoulder is more common with throwing activity but it can also happen with a hard fall or unexpected impact. A strain in the shoulder may involve one of the Rotator Cuff Muscles. A shoulder injury may also hurt the cartilage around the shoulder joint called the labrum.

Shoulder strains and dislocation can be very painfulImage of shoulder anatomy

A hard fall on the arm can cause a dislocation of the shoulder. A dislocated shoulder is one of the worst sports injuries and is usually very painful and needs to be put back in place quickly by a doctor. Usually the pain is much better once it is back in the socket. A dislocation can cause tearing in the muscles, tendons, and cartilage of the shoulder. 

Strength exercises for the rotator cuff muscles and the muscles around the shoulder blades can help prevent a strain in the shoulder.  If you think your shoulder pain is from baseball, please read this BASEBALL BIOMECHANICS ARTICLE.

If you would like to learn more about Rotator Cuff Injuries, this VIDEO can help.

#5 ACL Tear

The ACL is a major ligament that holds the knee together. The ACL can tear with a sudden twisting movement of the knee. This can happen when a soccer or football player has their cleats in the ground and they try to make and sudden turn. It can also happen if the knee hyperextends suddenly. There is usually a lot of swelling in the knee with a torn ACL.

An ACL tear can end a sports season for an athlete. Most of the time, an ACL tear requires surgery to fix it. The recovery from ACL surgery can take 6 to 9 months with physical therapy.  

Strength training, agility training and balance training can help to prevent an ACL tear.

If you would like to learn more about ACL surgery, this VIDEO may help.

#6 Groin Pull

A groin pull or strain can happen with quick side to side movements or with a quick direction change. A groin pull is a strain one of the muscles or tendons in the groin area. One of the adductor muscles is usually strained with a groin pull. A pulled hip muscle, hip flexor or quad strain can cause pain near the groin area as well.  Hip flexor strain symptoms can include pain in the front of the hip too.  

Stretching the inner thigh muscles and front of the thigh and hip muscles can help to prevent a groin pull.

#7 Shin Splints

Shin splints can happen with excessive running. They are more common with running over 20 miles per week. Shin splints are pain and inflammation in the inside part of the lower leg. There can be irritation of the outer bone layer and the muscle tissue in the area. The official name for Shin Splints is Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome or MTSS.

Shin splints can happen with running and impactImage of Shin Splint Diagram

Wearing supportive running shoes can help to prevent shin splints. If you run a lot, change your shoes every 300 to 500 miles.  Stretching the calf muscles can also help.

#8 Tennis Elbow / Golfer's Elbow

Tennis Elbow and Golfer's Elbow are common injuries with tennis and golf but they can occur with many other activities as well. Tennis Elbow is pain in the tendons on the outside of the elbow (Lateral Epicondylitis). Golfer's Elbow is pain in the tendons on the inside of the elbow (medial epicondylitis). Both of these elbow injuries come from repetitive stress on the tendons, muscles, and bone attachments in the elbow. 

Tennis Elbow and Golfer's Elbow can happen with repetitive stress to the elbowImage of Elbow Anatomy

Stretching and strengthening the muscles of the forearm can help to prevent Tennis Elbow and Golfer's Elbow. A strap or brace around the top of the forearm can sometimes help to decrease the stress on the elbow tendons if they are hurting.   

To learn more about Tennis Elbow, watch this VIDEO.

#9 Concussion

Concussions are brain injuries and can be very seriousImage of a brain with concussion

A concussion can happen with a hard hit to the head or neck. This can come from a fall or a blow to the head. A concussion is considered a mild brain injury but there is nothing minor about them. Concussions can cause:

  • headaches
  • nausea
  • visual problems
  • poor concentration
  • memory loss
  • balance problems

Wearing proper head and neck protection can help prevent concussions.  Contact sports such as football, soccer, and Lacrosse have a higher incidence of concussion. 

What Do I Do if I Have an Athletic Injury?

The quick answer is to follow the PRICE treatment plan if you have an athletic or sports injury. PRICE treatment is:

  • Protect the injured area.
  • Restrict movement of the injury.  
  • Ice. Ice for 20 minutes off and on to limit swelling.
  • Compression to the injury can help control swelling.
  • Elevation of the injury above the heart can help to allow swelling to decrease.

If PRICE treatment does not help after a couple of days, or there is a deformity or bleeding that will not stop at the time of the injury, seek medical help. 

The Jacksonville Orthopedic Institute is Northeast Florida's Leader in treating Sports Injuries. Whether it is one of the 9 most common sports injuries or another injury, ache, or pain, JOI has the answers and can get you on the Road to Recovery.  To schedule with a JOI Rehab Center for physical therapy or hand therapy, please call 904-858-7045

JOI offers ASAP Injury appointments and telemedicine visits if needed. We also offer the area's top Rehabilitation facilities to help you recover and return to the sport or activity that you love. 

To schedule and appointment, call 904-JOI-2000, schedule online, or click the link below.

Ehren Allen is a medical content writer for JOIEhren Allen, DPT, COMT

Skip to content