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What you can do to prevent and treat sports injuries

A sports-related injury refers to any injury sustained during participation in athletic activities or sports. These injuries can vary widely in severity, ranging from minor strains and sprains to more serious fractures, dislocations, or concussions. Sports-related injuries can affect different parts of the body, including muscles, bones, ligaments, tendons, and joints.

Common examples of sports-related injuries include:

  • Sprains

  • Strains

  • Fractures

  • Dislocations

  • Concussions

  • Tendonitis

  • Contusions

  • ACL tear

  • Shin splints

  • Muscle cramps


Warm-up exercises to prevent sports injuries

  • Jumping Jacks: 

    • Start with your feet together and arms at your sides. 

    • Jump, spreading your legs shoulder-width apart while raising your arms above your head. 

    • Return to the starting position with another jump.

  • Arm Circles: 

    • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. 

    • Extend your arms straight out to the sides. 

    • Rotate your arms in small circles, gradually increasing the size of the circles. 

    • Reverse the direction after a set number of rotations.

  • Leg Swings: 

    • Stand next to a sturdy object for support. 

    • Swing one leg forward and backward in a controlled manner, keeping it straight. Repeat with the other leg.

  • High Knees: 

    • Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart. 

    • Lift one knee towards your chest while hopping on the opposite foot. 

    • Alternate quickly between legs, maintaining a brisk pace.

  • Butt Kicks: 

    • Stand with your feet hip-width apart. 

    • Bend one knee and kick your heel towards your glutes, alternating between legs in a jogging motion.

  • Shoulder Rolls: 

    • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. 

    • Roll your shoulders forward in a circular motion, gradually increasing the size of the circles. 

    • Reverse the direction after a set number of rotations.

  • Ankle Circles: 

    • Sit or stand with one leg lifted off the ground. 

    • Rotate your ankle in a circular motion, first clockwise and then counterclockwise. 

    • Repeat with the other ankle.

  • Hip Rotations: 

    • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. 

    • Place your hands on your hips and rotate them in a circular motion, first clockwise and then counterclockwise.


Perform each exercise for about 10-15 repetitions or for a duration of 30-60 seconds to effectively warm up your muscles and prevent sports-related injuries.

Treat sports injuries with the RICE method

  • Rest: The first step is to rest the injured area to prevent further damage and allow the body to begin the healing process. Avoid any activities that aggravate the injury and give the affected area time to recover.

  • Ice: Apply ice to the injured area as soon as possible, typically within the first 48 hours after the injury occurs. Ice helps reduce swelling, inflammation, and pain by constricting blood vessels and numbing the area. Wrap the ice pack in a towel to protect the skin and apply it for about 15-20 minutes at a time, several times a day.

  • Compression: Use compression to help control swelling and provide support to the injured area. Wrap the injured area with an elastic bandage or compression sleeve, ensuring it's snug but not too tight. Compression helps limit swelling by preventing fluid buildup in the injured tissues.

  • Elevation: Elevate the injured area above the level of the heart whenever possible to reduce swelling and promote drainage of excess fluid. Prop up the injured limb on pillows or cushions while lying down or sitting to help facilitate circulation and decrease swelling.


Following the RICE method can help alleviate pain, reduce swelling, and speed up the healing process for sports-related injuries. It's essential to continue monitoring the injury and seek medical attention if symptoms worsen or fail to improve with home treatment.

Rehab your sports-related injuries with these exercises

  • Perform gentle movements to improve flexibility and regain full range of motion in the injured joint or muscle. Examples include:

    • Shoulder circles

    • Ankle circles

    • Wrist flexion

    • Extension

  • Gradually incorporate resistance exercises to rebuild strength in the injured area and surrounding muscles. Start with light resistance and gradually increase as tolerated. Examples include:

    • Leg presses

    • Bicep curls

    • Resistance band exercises

  • Focus on exercises that improve balance, stability, and proprioception (awareness of body position). This helps prevent future injuries and enhances overall athletic performance. Examples include:

    • Single-leg stance

    • Balance board exercises

    • Stability ball exercises

  • Practice functional movements that mimic activities or sports-specific motions to restore coordination and agility. Examples include:

    • Lunges

    • Squats

    • Step-ups with proper form and technique

  • Strengthen the core muscles to provide stability and support for the entire body. Include exercises such as:

    • Plank variations

    • Bird dogs

    • Russian twists

  • Incorporate low-impact cardiovascular exercises such as swimming, cycling, or using an elliptical machine to improve cardiovascular fitness without putting too much stress on the injured area.


It's essential to consult with a St. Joseph Health orthopedic specialist or physical therapist before starting any rehabilitation program to ensure it's appropriate for your specific injury and stage of recovery. Additionally, progress gradually and listen to your body, avoiding any exercises that cause pain or discomfort.

Sports-related injuries prevention techniques

Preventing injuries during sports involves various strategies aimed at minimizing risks and promoting safe participation. Here are some key ways to prevent sports-related injuries:

  • Proper warm-up: Always start with a thorough warm-up session before engaging in physical activity. Warm-up exercises increase blood flow to the muscles, improve flexibility, and prepare the body for more intense activity, reducing the risk of injury.

  • Use appropriate equipment: Wear properly fitting sports equipment and protective gear specific to the activity you're participating in. This may include helmets, pads, mouthguards, goggles, and supportive footwear. Ensure equipment is well-maintained and replaced when necessary.

  • Learn and practice proper technique: Take the time to learn correct techniques for your sport or activity from a qualified coach or instructor. Practice good form to reduce the risk of overuse injuries and traumatic injuries caused by improper movement patterns.

  • Gradual progression: Progress gradually when increasing the intensity, duration, or frequency of your workouts or sports participation. Avoid sudden spikes in activity levels, as this can increase the risk of strains, sprains, and other injuries.

  • Stay hydrated and properly fueled: Drink plenty of water before, during, and after physical activity to stay hydrated. Fuel your body with a balanced diet rich in nutrients to support optimal performance and recovery.

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