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Sports-Specific Injuries

Volleyball
Jumping, overhead motions, and the contact nature of volleyball leads to a variety of injuries, the most common of which is ankle sprain, followed by knee and finger injuries, including dislocations, jams, and fractures. Wrist sprains and tendon tears, along with shoulder overuse syndromes, including rotator cuff tendinitis, impingement, sprains, and chronic impingement as well as lower spine injuries are common. Knee injuries have been well studied and include ACL tears, patellar tendinitis (jumper's knee), and patellofemoral pain. Stress fractures can also occur in the lower leg.

To prevent volleyball injuries: Flexibility, core strength, and balance is crucial. Hamstring and quadriceps strength along with jumping and landing skills should be worked on three times weekly. Shoulder and rotator cuff strength should also be a focus of conditioning. Proper ball strike technique should be established to reduce stress on the wrists and hands and prevent finger injuries.

Waterskiing
Hamstring, quadriceps, and knee strains or tears can occur. Ligament tears can occur secondary to rotational injuries and jumps, which can also cause fractures and ankle injuries. Neck, middle, and low back injuries can occur both as overuse and acute injuries. Forearm, wrist, and hand injuries can occur, including tendinitis, tears, and chronic sprains. Traumatic injuries occur from impact with the water (or objects) and include shoulder dislocations, rib fractures, ruptured eardrums, and head injury.

To prevent waterskiing injuries: Proper technique, equipment, and a safe and experienced boat driver is essential. Posture and foot and arm alignment can prevent strains and muscle pulls. The use of gloves allows for more effective grip. Flotation vests or bright-colored wet suits are essential to identify a skier after a fall. Conditioning exercises should include the upper body, especially wrist and shoulder strengthening. Weight-bearing aerobic exercises should be done three times weekly to maintain bone strength.

Weight Lifting
Injuries occur due to lifting either too much weight, too frequent training, or poor technique. Injuries include neck and back sprains, disc herniations, shoulder sprains, and tendinitis, including AC joint sprains, rotator cuff injuries, pectoralis rupture and instability, lateral epicondylitis, flexor carpi radialis and DeQuervain's tendinitis, and knee sprains, including patellofemoral and meniscal pain and patellar tendinitis. The tendency for these athletes to use muscle-building supplements and performance-enhancers can cause permanent internal problems in liver, kidneys, and with fertility. Bodybuilders are at a high risk of eating disorders due to restrictive diets.

To prevent weight lifting injuries: Do not increase weight too rapidly. Rest is important, and similar muscle groups should not be strength trained two days in a row. Quick, thrusting, and twisting motions can lead to injury, so pace should be slow and comfortable. Technique is equally important to prevent injuries; weights should not be lifted behind the plane of the body to protect the shoulders from injury. Alignment of arms and wrists should be straight, and alignment and direction of weight movement should be straight and controlled. Squats, lunges, and dead lifts should also be controlled and in proper form. In women with knee problems, squats and lunges should be avoided. In women with back problems, dead lifts and loaded squats should be avoided.

Windsurfing
Back pain and injury can be common due to poor positioning, carrying, and lifting equipment, along with uphauling. Shoulder dislocations occur from falls, along with foot sprains and fractures if feet are strapped in. Cuts, bruises, and head injuries can occur from falls on the fin, mast, boon, or rocks or corals.

To prevent windsurfing injuries: Proper technique of foot placement, balance, and sail maneuvering and knowledge of wind and currents is essential to preventing serious problems. Headgear is available and should be worn while surfing in rocky areas. General strengthening, especially to the back, abdominal muscles, and shoulders, should be done three times weekly. Stretching and balance exercises should also be done three times weekly, along with weight-bearing aerobic activity.

Yoga
Injuries from yoga are most frequently overuse injuries or from pushing a position beyond comfort. Postures held in unbalanced positions or beyond fatigue can stress and injure the ligaments, tendons, and joints of the knees, wrists, spine, and shoulders. Hamstring and inner thigh sprains and occasionally tears can be common. When movements are quick, as in a few types of yoga classes, it is possible to suffer knee, wrist, or back sprains. Shoulder injuries can occur from inversions or postures where the hands are behind the head and trunk.

To prevent yoga injuries: Make sure you feel balanced, you have drunk enough fluids, and you feel strong enough to hold postures. If your muscles are trembling and you are uncomfortable with a maneuver, perform a modified posture. Yoga classes involving quick movements and highly heated rooms (Bikram) can be dangerous to an unconditioned person. Bikram should never be done if pregnant, and water should be drunk every 15 minutes to prevent dehydration in these classes. Do not push a position through pain; instead, release the pressure and stretch a painful area.

Many sports-related injuries can be avoided with proper conditioning, including strengthening and stretching muscles most frequently used. Rest is an essential component to avoiding overuse injuries, which can become chronic and lead to other problems. Proper skills and technique decreases risks of injuries, and you should not play above your skill level to avoid serious injuries. Equipment should fit well and be appropriate to the sport. Listening to your body signals, resting when you feel fatigued or pain, and maintaining overall strength and balance is key to enjoyment and success in your sport.

More on: Sports

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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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