For football players, soccer players, and athletes looking forward to other sports commonly played during the fall season, it's an exciting time of year. But with the excitement and anticipation of playing comes the potential for injuries.
No matter what your favorite fall sport is, it's important to be aware of the most common injuries that can occur while playing. By understanding the common sports injuries that affect fall athletes, knowing how these injuries happen, and taking the appropriate measures to prevent sports injuries, you can help reduce your risk of being sidelined.
Dr. Michael J. Rytel at Rytel Sports Medicine in Pittsburgh, PA is an expert in treating and preventing sports injuries. He's seen firsthand the types of sports-related injury that can sideline athletes during their season, from knee and ankle injuries to shoulder and elbow injuries.
Here are Dr. Rytel's top five fall sports injuries to watch out for, as well as some prevention tips to help you play safe this fall season:
1. Knee Injury
Knee injuries, such as ACL tears and meniscus tears, are common in fall sports that involve a lot of running, jumping, and cutting, like football and soccer. These types of injuries can be caused by contact with another player or object, or by landing awkwardly after a jump.
To help prevent injury to the knee, Dr. Rytel recommends strengthening the muscles around the knee, such as the quadriceps and hamstrings. He also suggests wearing proper footwear that provides good support, and using proper technique when running, jumping, and cutting.
Stretching exercises to warm up the knees can also prevent them from being injured. Warm muscles are more effective than cool muscles and are less likely to be strained or sprained.
2. Ankle Injuries
Ankle injuries are another common type of injury seen in fall sports. These occur when the ligaments that support the ankle are stretched or torn. Some of the most common ankle injuries in sports include:
- Ankle sprains: These can be caused by rolling or twisting the ankle, landing on someone else's foot, or by direct contact with another player or object.
- Achilles tendon tears: These occur when the Achilles tendon, which connects the calf muscle to the heel bone, is overstretched or torn. Achilles tendon tears are often seen in sports that involve sudden stops and starts, like basketball and tennis.
To help prevent ankle injuries, Dr. Rytel recommends wearing shoes that fit well and provide good support, warming up before playing, and avoiding sudden changes in direction.
3. Shoulder Injuries
Shoulder injuries are common in fall sports that involve overhead motions, like football and volleyball. These types of injuries can be caused by falling on an outstretched arm, direct contact with another player or object, or by repetitive overhead motions.
Some of the most common sports-related injuries to the shoulder include:
- Shoulder dislocation: This occurs when the bones of the shoulder joint are forced out of place.
- Rotator cuff tears: These occur when the tendons or muscles that stabilize the shoulder joint are torn.
- Shoulder instability: This occurs when the shoulder joint is loose and unstable.
To help prevent shoulder injuries, Dr. Rytel recommends strengthening the muscles around the shoulder, especially the rotator cuff muscles. It's also extremely important to warm up properly before playing, wear the appropriate protective equipment, and perform overhead motions the proper way.
4. Elbow Injuries
Elbow injuries are common in fall sports that involve repetitive motions of the arm, like tennis and golf. These types of injuries can be caused by overuse or repetitive motions of the elbow joint.
To help prevent elbow injuries, Dr. Rytel recommends strengthening the muscles around the elbow, as well as the muscles in the forearm and wrist. He also suggests avoiding excessive repetitive motions of the elbow, rests to avoid overuse injuries, and using proper equipment and technique when playing.
5. Wrist Injuries
Wrist injuries are particularly common in fall sports that involve the use of the hands, like football and basketball. These types of injuries can be caused by falling on an outstretched hand, direct contact with another player or object, or by repetitive motions of the wrist.
Some common wrist injuries Dr. Rytel treats include:
- Sprains: These occur when the ligaments that support the wrist are stretched or torn.
- Fractures: These serious injuries occur when one of the bones in the wrist is broken.
- Carpal tunnel syndrome: This is a condition that occurs when the median nerve, which runs through the wrist, becomes compressed.
Tips for wrist injury prevention include:
- Wearing the appropriate protective gear, including gloves or wraps to support the wrist
- Using proper technique when playing
- Avoiding excessive repetitive motions of the wrist
- Resting when experiencing pain to avoid more serious injury
Visit the Top Sports Medicine Specialist Near You
If you do experience a fall sports injury, it's important to see a doctor right away. Early diagnosis and treatment can help speed up the healing process and get you back on the field as soon as possible.
Dr. Rytel is a board-certified orthopedic surgeon and sports medicine specialist who has extensive experience treating fall sports injuries. With a commitment to minimally-invasive orthopedic care, he can help you get back to the activities you love as quickly and effectively as possible.
If you're ready to receive care from the best sports medicine doctor Pittsburgh has to offer, or you'd like some more sports injury prevention tips, schedule your first appointment at Rytel Sports Medicine today.