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Sports-Specific Injuries

Improper conditioning and technique can lead to overuse injuries, such as shoulder impingement and epicondylitis (golfer's elbow). Back pain and injury is most common and can be chronic and problematic. Wrist pain and tenosynovitis along with trigger fingers and wrist ganglia can occur. Stress or impact fractures can include those in the wrist, ribs, and spine.

To prevent golf injuries: Conditioning exercises including wrist and shoulder exercises and back and abdominal strengthening should be done three times weekly. Stability ball exercises, including rotational torso maneuvers, are quite popular among golfers. Regular golfers should do spine and upper body flexibility exercises. Technique is crucial to reducing overuse injuries.

As a sport that challenges entire body strength, balance, and flexibility, both chronic and acute injuries can occur. Repetitive spine movements in many planes can contribute to spondy and disc problems. Wrist pain and injury is also quite frequent, including stress fractures, tendon tears, ganglion cysts, and chronic tendinitis. Elbow and shoulder problems can also be common. Due to constant jumping, running, and landing, ankle and knee injuries are also frequent. Body image problems and eating disorders are common to gymnasts.

To prevent gymnastic injuries: Training sessions should be no longer than two hours with plenty of fluids available throughout practice, and there should be at least one day of rest a week. Proper nutrition and adequate calories are essential to health and optimum performance along with prevention of stress fractures. Overall strength and conditioning should be done in addition to technical training three times weekly.

Horseback Riding
Overuse injuries include inner thigh sprains and hip and pelvic bursitis. Low back pain can occur, with possible disc injuries. Traumatic falls are the most threatening and can include head, spine, and limb injuries and fractures. Fractures to the collar bone, upper arm, elbow, and wrist and hand are most common. Asthma can also be problematic due to environmental allergies.

To prevent riding injuries: Spine and leg strength and flexibility should be optimal. Riders should incorporate weight-bearing exercises along with upper body strengthening three times weekly to protect bone health and overall health and fitness. Because of the seriousness of accidents that might occur, technique and equipment is crucial; a rider should never go without a bit to control the horse. Saddles and stirrups should fit both horse and rider properly. A helmet is essential.

Ice Hockey
Lower body injuries are most common, particularly hamstring, groin, and inner thigh sprains and tears. Knee ligament and meniscus tears and sprains can also occur, along with ankle and foot injuries. Traumatic injuries include cuts and bruises, concussions, spine injuries, shoulder separations, and fractures to the upper and lower body. Skin rashes can sometimes occur due to ill-fitting or wet, moldy padding.

To prevent hockey injuries: Inner thigh and groin stretching should be done prior to going on the ice. Overall leg and spine conditioning should be done three times weekly. Upper body strengthening should be added to promote overall fitness. Equipment including chest plates, head and mouth gear, and skates should fit properly and be allowed to air and dry out regularly.

Military Training/Obstacle Course
Due to explosive bursts of speed, climbing, cutting, and jumping, both major and minor traumatic injuries are possible. Overuse injuries occur such as march fractures (stress fractures of the metatarsals), Achilles tendinitis, and plantar fasciitis. ACL tears have been studied as occurring nearly 10 times more frequently in female military personnel than in males. Other knee, shoulder, wrist, and hand injuries can also occur.

To prevent military training and obstacle course injuries: Overall body conditioning is essential, including balance exercises, core stability, and shoulder and leg strengthening. Lower body stretching should be done daily. Technique should be optimal and special care taken when fatigued so as not to fall.

Mountain Biking
Along with common cycling injuries, wrist, elbow, and shoulder tendinitis, sprains, and stress fractures, and pelvic, hip, and knee bursitis can occur. The greatest risk of mountain biking is due to falls; collar bone fractures are most common.

To prevent mountain biking injuries: Ride within your abilities with equipment you are comfortable with. Your bike should be properly fit with brakes and gears working optimally. Helmets are essential and should fit snugly. Shoe clips should be adequate, and you should know how to easily get in and out. Riding alone is not recommended! Carrying a cell phone is an excellent idea in case of emergency.

The repetitive high-resistance movements of rowing can lead to many overuse injuries. Mid and lower back pain is frequent; rib stress fractures and disc disorders can also occur. Bursitis of the hip and pelvic areas can also occur. Forearm and wrist tendinitis, DeQuervain's tenosynovitis, and extensor tendinitis are common due to feathering (rotating) the oar. Traumatic injuries can occur from lifting the boat, or "catching a crab," in which the oar gets pulled under the boat. Cross-training can also lead to injuries, as weight training is usually strenous. Knee problems such as patellofemoral and iliotibial band syndromes can occur secondary to hill and squat training. Palm and finger blistering is frequent and can lead to infection if not properly managed.

To prevent rowing injuries: The most important conditioning exercises are spine and abdominal strengthening and wrist strengthening. Proper technique, especially initiating each stroke with the legs, is crucial to protect the back and arms from injury. Coxswain commands and stroke pace are important to prevent catching crabs. Conditioning exercises should avoid high-velocity, repetitive motions and protect the back and knees from repeated stress. Rest is important. To manage blisters, antibiotic ointments applied while sleeping helps promote quick healing.

Because rugby is a high contact sport, shoulder dislocations, sprains and instabilities, ACL tears, face and eye injuries, and collarbone, rib, and finger fractures are possible traumatic injuries. Quad and hamstring strains, hip pointers, and lower leg injuries can also occur due to both overuse and trauma during field play. As in all field sports, ankle sprains are the most frequent injuries.

To prevent rugby injuries: Rotator cuff strengthening should be done three times weekly. Stretching of the spine and legs should be done before and after play. Balance and agility drills should be done three times weekly to prevent knee and ankle injuries. The playing field should be well maintained so the surface is even.

More on: Sports

From The Active Woman's Health and Fitness Handbook by Nadya Swedan. Copyright © 2003 by Nadya Swedan. Used by arrangement with Perigee, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

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