Just when the days of pushing our bodies are long gone, that’s when the past may catch up with us. There have been numerous studies surrounding the long-term effect of sports injuries, but you don’t need scientific data to show you that what you’re feeling probably didn’t happen overnight — wear and tear often compounds the injury. If you have experienced any type of sports injury, you owe it to your present and future body to be extra vigilant about some warning signs. Here are six common injuries and the effects that can occur years later:
Sprain. Serious or minor, a sprain happens as a result of stress to the ligaments or joints. It is one of the most common sports-related injuries so we really don’t tend to give it the attention it deserves. The most common effect is vulnerability to reoccurrence of the sprain in the same spot. If the sprain happened to the ankle, you risk ankle “instability.”
Hamstring strain. The hamstrings are tendons that attach the large muscles at the back of the thigh to the thighbone. Recurrent hamstring injuries can affect your mobility and your flexibility. If you continually hurt your hamstrings doing something such as sprinting or jumping, you to need consider retiring from that activity to save yourself some pain in the future.
Stress fracture. This is another sports injury that doesn’t garner the automatic attention it should. Stress fractures occur in weight-bearing areas and once they happen, they are likely to repeat in that same place. Stress fractures that aren’t properly managed can lead to larger, harder to heal stress fractures, or even chronic problems such as pain or discomfort in your daily life.
ACL injury. An anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury is the overstretching or tearing of the ligament in the knee. It is most commonly torn in sports that involve sudden stops, jumping, or changes in direction — including basketball, football, skiing, or tennis. Depending on the severity of your ACL injury, rehabilitation or surgery is the prescribed treatment.
Meniscus tear. The meniscus is a piece of cartilage that provides a cushion between your thighbone and shinbone. The constant rubbing of a torn meniscus on the surrounding cartilage may cause wear and tear on the surface, leading to degeneration of the joint. Over time, this can compromise your mobility and cause chronic pain.
Fracture. A broken bone may cause swelling, obvious bruising, and tenderness around the injured area. Unlike some stress fractures (through some may require a cast), a traditional fracture must be set with a cast. Repeated injuries to the same bone will increase your chance of arthritis in the future.
While sports have many positives, no one can deny the toll the physical pounding can take on the body. Common sense is essential. Treating your injuries as soon as they occur is crucial, and to allow your injury to fully heal before getting back in the game. There is the pressure to get back in the game and not let your teammates down, or if you’re a runner, to get back to your personal best, but slow down – it will only help you in the future. Plus, your future body will thank you.