People in San Diego are active - really active. Venture outside on any given day of the week, and you’ll see joggers, bikers, surfers, skateboarders, people walking their dogs, moms pushing strollers - the list goes on. This makes sense, considering that San Diego is ranked as one of America’s sunniest and healthiest cities.

But along with being physical active comes the risk of injury. Depending on they types of activities you like to do, you may be more prone to certain injuries. However, are there a handful of common sports-related injuries that our team at RISE Physical Therapy treats on a consistent basis.

Below are the 6 most common sports injuries we deal with, and what you can do to avoid them.

Ankle Sprain

Ankle sprains are an extremely common injury, and can occur during activities ranging from basketball and football to simply walking down the street. According to WebMD, 25,000 people in the United States sprain their ankle every day. That’s a lot of rehab!

When ankle sprains occur during sports or another physically taxing activity, the severity can be heightened due to increased levels of speed and force. Ankle sprains are graded based on their severity as follow:

Grade 1: Some slight stretching and minimal ligament damage.
Grade 2: Involve partial tearing of ligament and abnormal looseness of ankle joint.
Grade 3: Complete ligament tear and a high degree of instability when manipulating the ankle joint.

How to Prevent an Ankle Sprain

  • Practice regular ankle stretches and strengthening exercises.

  • Wear preventative braces before playing sports, especially if you’ve had a sprain before.

  • Proper footwear for the activity and surface you are playing on are crucial.

  • Balance training and exercises will not only strengthen your ankle joints, but will also prepare your body to have better control in all type of positions and movements.

Shoulder Dislocation

A dislocated shoulder occurs when your upper arm bone pops out of the shoulder socket. It’s a fairly common sports injury that is often caused by hard fall, tackle, or other type of collision. While this type of injury normally occurs in high contact sports like football, hockey, and rugby, dislocated shoulders can also plague cyclists, surfers, yoga participants, weight lifters, etc.

You’ll definitely know if you’ve dislocated your shoulder, as your shoulder join will be visible deformed and you’ll be in a lot of pain. Many times, the arm bone quickly pops back into the shoulder socket on its own. Other times, however, you may need to seek medical attention to have the bone properly replaced.

How to Prevent a Dislocated Shoulder

  • Weak rotator cuff muscles can often increase your chances of a dislocated shoulder, so exercises that strengthen this area of your shoulder are great for prevention.

  • Other great shoulder strengthening exercises include push-ups, shoulder shrugs, and resistance band routines.

  • Wearing a shoulder support or brace while playing sports or other physical activities is also recommended for those who have suffered a dislocated shoulder in the past.

Lower Back (Musculoligamentous) Strain

Lower back injuries are something that plague most Americans, regardless of whether or not they are physically active. However, those who play sports or are physical active are at a greater risk for musculoligamentous strains - essentially, common back strains. These types of lower back strains refer to refer to all injuries of the lumbar spine’s soft tissue, including muscles, nerves, ligaments, tendons, and blood vessels around the spine. There’s a good chance you’re suffering from some type of musculoligamentous strain at this very moment.

The cause of lower back pain are many, ranging from pre-existing injuries, abnormal spinal growth, poor posture, trauma, etc. Other risk factors for lower back problems include obesity, a sedentary lifestyle, and improper lifting techniques. Even a sudden movement in a certain direction can strain the soft tissue in your lower back to the point where you need advanced treatment.

How to Prevent a Lower Back Strain

  • Avoid sitting for extended periods of time. If you work at a desk, get up, walk around, and stretch as often as you can.

  • Stretch and strengthen your lower back muscles over time to take pressure off of your spine and help prevent injuries.

  • Make sure to warm up your lower back muscles prior to physical activity, either through a stretching routine, applied heat source, or both. Afterwards, ice your lower back if you feel any tightness or soreness.

Knee Sprain

Similar to an ankle sprain, knee sprains occur when ligaments in your knee become stretched or partially torn. These ligaments include your ACL (anterior cruciate ligament), MCL (medial collateral ligament), LCL (lateral collateral ligament), and PCL (posterior cruciate ligament). We often see these injuries occur in athletes who participate in football, basketball, and soccer. However, runners and cyclists are also common suffers of knee sprains as well.

Knee sprains are commonly the result of either a quick directional change that led to overextension or twisting of the knee joint, or a direct hit to the knee joint from the font, back, or side.

How to Prevent a Knee Sprain

  • Maintaining an ideal bodyweight can go a long way in taking pressure off of your knees and preventing injuries.

  • Improving the strength of your calf, quadriceps, and hamstring muscles will also help support your knees.

  • Warm up your knees by walking, biking, or lightly jogging prior to engaging in strenuous physical activities.

Elbow Injuries

We see patients looking to rehab all types of elbow injuries, from sprains to dislocations. When it comes to sports, elbow injuries typically occur among tennis and baseball players. Given the repetitive movements of both of those sports, it’s no wonder there are large percentages of participants in these sports suffering from Tennis Elbow or UCL injuries.

The main cause behind elbow injuries outside of direct trauma is simple overuse. After years of forceful swinging and throwing motions, tennis and baseball athletes are likely to experience chronic pain and instability in their elbow joints.

How to Prevent a Elbow Sprain

  • The first (and best) this to do is rest. If you feel consistent pain in your elbow, taking a few days off can decrease inflammation and provide some relief.

  • In baseball, where UCL injuries are common, pitch counts are often implemented to help prevent overuse from occurring.

  • Tennis Elbow can be prevented through wrist flexion and extension exercises, practicing proper hitting technique, and wearing a brace if necessary.

Hamstring Strain

No matter what sport or activity you participate in, you have likely experienced some type of hamstring strain. This injury is extremely common, and can affect long distance runners, swimmers, sprinters, gymnasts, football players, etc. It’s a nagging sports injury that can be notoriously difficult to get rid of.

Hamstring strains normally occur during running and jumping, or starting and stopping. Improper strength balance, poor flexibility, and failure to warm up properly are all leading causes behind hamstring strains.

How to Prevent a Hamstring Strain

  • Warm up properly before running, jumping, biking, etc..

  • Strengthen your glutes and quadriceps to take pressure off of your hamstrings.

  • If necessary, massage your hamstrings or use a massage stick prior to physical activity.