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It’s that time of the year when people are signing up for softball, baseball and soccer leagues. If you or a family member is getting ready for a new sports season , make sure to protect your knees from injury so you’re not stuck on the sidelines.
Most sports injuries heal without surgery, says Robert Berry, D.O., medical director of sports medicine at Baylor Regional Medical Center at Plano. But not ACL tears, a common injury suffered by skiers.
Whether due to overuse, twisting or contact, certain injuries are common in sports.
Golfers are prone to golfer’s elbow, where muscles on the inside of the elbow get pulled when a stroke nicks the ground. Anti-inflammatory medications and rest can help those pulled muscles recover. Golfers also tend to get rotator cuff tendinitis from the overhead motion of their swing-through. People with rotator cuff tendinitis—not just golfers, but baseball and volleyball players as well—typically need rehab and strengthening exercises to get back to their games.
Soccer players tend to sprain their ankles—a common injury in any running or cutting sport. Sprained ankles are tough to prevent, but staying off the ankle until the swelling goes down, taping the joint and returning to play gradually as symptoms allow can help prevent reinjury. “If you have a history of ankle sprains, wear a brace when you compete,” Dr. Berry says.
Jammed fingers—torn ligaments on the bottom or top side of the finger—are common in basketball players. Taping the finger to an adjacent finger for support can often get you back on the court the next day.
In football players, most of the injuries come from contact—ankle sprains, dislocated shoulders and elbows, and knee injuries.
Runners can work through minor muscle aches, but for tendinitis and issues that bother the joints you need to ease off and let healing take place. Also, watch out for stress fractures masquerading as shin splints. Female athletes are more prone to stress fractures, so Dr. Berry says they should never ignore lingering pain in their legs, ankles, feet.
Dr. Berry says older athletes are prone to injuries such as hamstring strains, quadricep tears, and calf or Achilles tendon injuries. And by “older athlete” he means athletes in their 30s, 40s and 50s who are past their high school and college years.
“We are seeing a lot more people active in midlife,” he says. “They go from doing nothing to a pickup basketball game without preparing properly.” Dr. Berry recommends two steps to help keep these injuries at bay:
Stretching to help build and maintain flexibility and range of motion.
Conditioning, by adding some type of cross training, to help prevent overuse injuries and balance out the forces of the workouts.
Stay off the sidelines. For a referral to a sports medicine specialist or orthopedic specialist on the medical staff at a Baylor facility near you, call 1.800.4BAYLOR or visit BaylorHealth.com/Plano and choose Find a Physician.
Female athletes may be three to four times more likely to tear their anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) compared with men, says J. Dr. Berry. That increase may be because:
Baylor Plano offers an ACL injury prevention program, in which instructors teach different exercises that help the body land in the right posture. For more information about this course please call 468.814.2550.
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