Causes and Risk Factors for Sports Injuries

Sports Injuries can be caused by a wide range of factors including:

• Trauma: is one common cause of injury, especially in contact or high speed or high impact sports. Trauma includes everything from sprained ankles up to broken bones. Traumatic injuries are usually the result of impact or collisions with the other people playing the sport, or with the ground or other hard objects. Such injuries usually occur very suddenly, so there may not be much you can do to avoid them, especially if you have not taken suitable precautions against sustaining the trauma.

• Failing to Manage the Risk Factors: The risk factors that lead to injury or allow injury to occur are classified as being either outside the body (extrinsic) or personal to your body (intrinsic).
Extrinsic risk factors include:

• Excessive stress or load on the body: the body’s tissues are capable of sustaining considerable stress, however if the forces of stress or load are too great, then this can push the tissues beyond the level that they can sustain, causing injury. When deciding how often, how hard, and/or how long to exercise, it is important to consider the impact on your muscles and joints. The key to avoiding injury is to build up gradually and don’t push yourself beyond your limits..

• Failure to Warm Up and Down: Many of the body’s tissues, such as muscle, are better able to deal with stress, strain, and load when they are warm. The warm-up process should exercise the entire body, to increase flow to muscles and makes them more responsive, and also include stretching exercises that move joints and limbs through their full range of motion. A proper warm-up regime ensures that muscles, joints, and body tissues are as prepared as possible to deal with the stresses and strains of exercise. At the end of each training session, it is also essential to warm down, bringing the body back down to normal, usually through low intensity activity, such as walking and gentle flexibility exercises.

• Poor Exercise Technique: can cause stresses and strains on the body’s tissues that result in injury. In many cases, the excessive repetition of a particular action, particularly when using a faulty or non-optimal technique, can cause excessive loads on tissues and cause subsequent injury. Some “excessive repetition with poor technique” injuries are even named after the sport involved, for example, Tennis Elbow.

• Poor, Missing, or Inappropriate Equipment: such footwear, headgear, and other protective and supportive devices can cause a range of injuries. For example, if you are involved in running or jumping, then proper footwear is essential to support the feet and cushion the feet, legs, and joints to reduce stress, strain, and shock

Intrinsic Risk Factors

• Being Overweight: increases the stresses, strains, and loads on muscles, tendons, ligaments, joints, and bones during physical activity, and can increase the risk of developing sports injuries as well as other health complications.

• Body Defects: such as the shape and structure of the major joints, which can cause or increase the risk of developing sports injuries. For example, feet that ‘pronate’ (roll inwards), flat feet, feet with high arches, feet that have a weak arch, leg length discrepancies, “knock knees”, and/or “bow legs” often contribute to lower leg, shin, and knee conditions, especially in runners.

• Joint Laxity: not being able to control or stabilize the joints throughout their full range of motion.

• Lack of Flexibility: can prevent the tendons, ligaments, and joints from being able to move through the required ranges of motions, placing excessive stress and strain on these tissues, and increasing the risk of developing sports injuries.

• Muscle Weakness or Imbalance: can place increased stresses and strains on tendons, ligaments, joints, and bones during physical exercise, increasing the risk of developing sports injuries.