A look at the most common sports injuries

Pressure: The patella tendon or ligament is the structure that joins your kneecap (patella) to your shin bone or tibia. This tendon comes under especially great stress in people who put extra strain on the knee joint, such as those who perform sports which involve frequent change in direction (football, badminton, etc) and jumping movements.

With the Olympics going on, I have been trying to keep fit by running every day. Unfortunately, I think I sprained my knee. What are the commonest sports injuries?

We can divide sports injuries into where they occur for ease of reference. Let's start with the knee. The most common sports injuries you can get in your knee are:

1. Pain on the outside of your knee - this is likely to be Iliotibial (IT) Band Syndrome or Runner's knee.

2. Pain on the base of your kneecap - this is because your patella tendon or ligament has degenerated. It's also called Jumper's knee.

3. Pain on the inside of your knee - this may be due to a medial ligament sprain.

What is Runner's knee?

This is a condition caused by running, but it doesn't mean all runners get it. Your knee pain here is exacerbated by running downhill, or when you flex or extend your knee.

Certain factors may make you more susceptible to getting it, such as:

> Overrunning (such as in overusing your knee).

> A genetically tight or wide IT band.

> When you have weak hip muscles.

> When you have overpronation, such as when you have a flat foot.

> When you run uphill often.

> When you have different leg lengths, such as when one of your legs is longer than the other.

That's why it's important to do stretching exercises as well. When you get this condition, you need to rest your knee. If it persists, a sports injury specialist can give you anti-inflammatory agents, massages or institute other physiotherapy methods.

What is Jumper's knee?

This is called patellar tendinopathy. It should be differentiated from patellar tendinitis, which is an inflammation of your tendon.

The patella tendon or ligament is the structure that joins your kneecap (patella) to your shin bone or tibia. It allows you to straighten your leg.

This tendon comes under especially great stress in people who put extra strain on the knee joint, such as those who perform sports which involve frequent change in direction (football, badminton, etc) and jumping movements.

When these movements are repeated frequently, tiny tears as well as collagen degeneration occur in the tendon.

At first, this may seem like a trivial injury, and you may continue to train with it. However, when you keep on neglecting it, it can become worse.

Not only are my knees hurting, but my thighs are killing me. What types of thigh injuries are there?

The commonest thigh injuries are hamstring strain, groin strain, and thigh strain.

A hamstring strain occurs usually during a sprinting movement. You get a sudden sharp pain at the back of your leg during exercise. The pain persists when you try to straighten your knee, and there may be bruising or swelling.

This is because one of your hamstring muscles at the back of your thigh (there are three of them) has been torn or ruptured. In severe cases, you won't even be able to walk properly.

A groin strain is a tear or rupture to one of your adductor muscles of the thigh. These are the ones which pull your leg back to your midline (as in closing your legs). Again, it usually happens in sports that require you to change direction a lot. Here, the pain is in your inner thigh.

A thigh strain is a tear in one of the quadriceps muscles in the front of your thigh. This usually occurs in sprinting, kicking or jumping, especially when you haven't had a thorough warm-up.

Most of these injuries are treated by rest, cold packs, compression and elevation. Naturally, physiotherapy and painkillers come into play for more severe cases.

I was playing tennis the other day, and I think I hurt one of my calves. Is the lower leg prone to injury?

Yes. The most common lower leg injuries are shin splint, calf strain and ankle sprain.

Shin splints happen on the inside of your lower leg. This is usually due to inflammation of the sheath surrounding your tibial bone. This occurs because you have either overpronation or oversupination of your foot, when you run on hard surfaces, or when you try to increase your training too quickly.

A calf strain happens when you tear one of your calf muscles at the back of your leg. If severe, you may be unable to walk properly.

An ankle sprain usually happens when you twist your ankle, such as when you fall down. There is an actual tearing of the ligaments. The most common ligaments to be damaged are those on the outside of your ankle, such as when your sole suddenly turns inward.

Again, all injuries are to be treated with rest (R), ice packs (I), compression (C) and elevation (E); this is commonly known as RICE.

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