FEATURE | Posted June 17, 2015

Top tips for avoiding sports injuries

Warm weather brings an increase in outdoor activities

Brandee Waite © UC RegentsBrandee Waite, a UC Davis sports medicine physician, discusses common sports injuries and how to prevent them. See Waite discuss how to avoid sports injuries on Fox 40. Click here to view video.

With the temperature rising and summer right around the corner, more people are heading outdoors for their workouts. Whether they’re a child or adult, training for a marathon or playing soccer, it’s important to prevent sports injuries.

Q: What are some common injuries that you see?

A: One of the most common sports injuries is patellofemoral pain, or runner’s knee, which causes pain in the front of the knee and behind the patella, or knee cap. It can be caused by high-impact activities or deep squatting actions. Achilles tendonitis, which causes inflammation of the tendon that attaches the calf to the heel, is another common injury that’s often seen in runners. Finally, the iliotibial band, which runs along the outside of the leg connecting the top of the pelvic bone to just below the knee, can also cause outer knee pain.

Photo of soccer player © iStockphoto
It is always important to stretch your muscles before and after strenuous exercise or activity.

Q: What are your tips for preventing injuries?

A: Stretching is the very helpful with injury prevention. If muscles are too tight, or there’s not enough flexibility around the joints, it’s easy to overstrain the knee, hip or ankle.

To prevent runner’s knee, a runner should stretch the quadriceps – the muscle in the front of the thigh. If they are not that flexible, a simple band can help with bending the knee to stretch the foot up behind the thigh to stretch the “quads.”

For children involved in sports, an important part of preventing injuries is the proper fit of gear. Kids’ shoes or cleats don’t have to be brand new or top of the line, but they should have the right fit for the sport, and shouldn’t be too big or too small.

Q: What are some signs that you need to see a doctor?

A: Adults are much more likely to sustain a sports injury from overuse than children. If there’s any pain that lasts more than a few days, it’s important to see a health-care provider.

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If a child is injured while playing a sport and is limping or results in a change in normal activities, parents should schedule a visit with their pediatrician.

Children usually cross-train, or play different sports, so they aren’t typically doing the same thing over and over again. But, if they are focused on one sport, it’s important to focus on “prehabilitation,” a form of strength training that aims to prevent injuries before they occur, and always stretch afterward.