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10 Most Common Sports Injuries

10 Most Common Sports Injuries

Table of Contents


What are the most common sports injuries?

  1. Sprains
  2. Patellofemoral Syndrome
  3. Strains
  4. Plantar Fasciitis
  5. Concussions
  6. Fractures
  7. Tennis Elbow
  8. Sciatica
  9. ACL/MCL tears
  10. Dislocations

1. Sprains

If you have ever played a sport, it is likely that you have fallen victim to some minor spraining. Not to be confused with a strain, sprains typically occur around joints, and occur when an athlete has overstretched or torn the ligaments that help to bind two of their bones together.

When running, shifting directions, jumping, throwing, skating, hitting, tackling, swinging, or doing any number of other sports related movements, athletes are susceptible to sprains. Most common is the ankle sprain, which can render a player inactive for days or even weeks.

To prevent spraining, athletes are always encouraged to stretch well before partaking in any physical activity.

2. Patellofemoral Syndrome

Perhaps just as common as sprains and strains, knee injuries, also known as Patellofemoral Syndrome, plague players of many sports. In fact, 55% of sports injuries fall within this category.

Often referred to as "jumper's" or "runner's knee," this syndrome can be very painful. It is caused by the knee joint hitting the leg bone repeatedly, or while falling onto one's knees. Athletes who partake in sports that utilize constant leg motion, like track and field or cycling for example, are most likely to suffer from this syndrome often.

Many of the injuries listed here can be treated by what health professionals refer to as the R.I.C.E. method or treatment, and knee injuries are no exception. This method instructs athletes to rest their injury, apply ice to it, compress the injury, and elevate the injured area.

3. Strains

Strains often get confused with sprains, and it isn't hard to see why. Both injuries are very similar in name, and in what area of the body they affect. Like spraining, straining occurs most commonly in joints, yet they occur when an athlete has overstretched or torn tendons or muscles, as opposed to ligaments.

Typically, a "muscle strain" is referred to as a "pulled muscle," which helps athletes better understand how the injury is affecting them. Athletes who want to avoid common muscle strains are encouraged to stretch via light calisthenics before partaking in any physical activity.

Athletes with minor strains will most likely heal quickly, given that they rest properly. Straining occurs throughout nearly every sport, so be sure to stretch well!

4. Plantar Fasciitis

The foot area of the body is susceptible to a very common form of sports injury known as Plantar Fasciitis. This specific injury describes a pain in the arch of the foot, caused by tendon inflammation.

Runners and joggers most frequently experience Plantar Fasciitis, however the injury is also commonly seen in basketball, football, soccer, and cycling athletes. The pain caused by Plantar Fasciitis can render athletes unable to walk comfortably for quite some time.

To treat Plantar Fasciitis, it is recommended that athletes stretch often and well, and that they rest often while they are injured.

5. Concussions

Perhaps one of the most dangerous sports injuries, concussions directly affect the head and brain. Contrary to what some believe, American football is not the only sport where concussions can occur. Concussions can happen just as frequently among hockey players, soccer players, and many other athletes, and the effects of one can range from mild to extremely severe.

Athletes can identify whether or not they have a concussion by either observing the symptoms (such as headache or dizziness), or by taking a baseline concussion test. It is crucial that athletes diagnosed with a concussion do not return to the sport until they are given the all clear from their doctor.

6. Fractures

Perhaps one of the most recognizable injuries by sight, as many athletes who receive bone fractures wear casts or splints, fractures can happen to any athlete in nearly any sport.

A fracture happens when a bone is impacted suddenly and with great force. Typically, athletes know right away when they have fractured a bone, as the affected area will produce severe pain and, in extreme cases, bones may protrude near the skin.

Athletes may require that their bones be set back in place as treatment, however, oftentimes they will simply require rest or a cast of some sort.

7. Tennis Elbow

A common injury that primarily affects athletes between 30 and 60 years of age, tennis elbow describes a condition brought on by overuse of the elbow. Such overuse can cause ligaments near and around the elbow to tear, causing pain and fatigue near the area.

Athletes who frequently participate in tennis, golf, rowing, or other sports that involve heavy use of the elbow should consider investing in an elbow brace in order to prevent this type of injury.

Tennis elbow, interestingly, affects roughly 3% of people between the ages of 30 and 50, however it is most common in those who play sports utilizing constant elbow motion.

8. Sciatica

One of the more preventable injuries on this list, Sciatica refers to a specific type of back pain, typically centered around the lower back area. Interestingly, athletes who play a number of different sports may all experience sciatica to some degree. Common sports where athletes experience sciatica include American football, cycling, golf, and track and field.

While resting one's body serves as the primary mode of treatment for sciatica, athletes may require back braces to heal or prevent further injury. Oftentimes, bulging and slipped disks are associated with such lower back injuries, and are treated similarly.

9. ACL/MCL Tears

A set of injuries famous for the intense pain they cause, ACL and MCL tears affects many athletes every year, although they are not as common as other types of injuries. These tears both occur around the knee. The ACL keeps the knee stable during physical activity, and is torn when athletes suddenly change direction, creating a force on the ACL which causes it to tear. Similarly, an MCL tear is caused when the MCL, which helps the knee rotate, is over extended and tears.

Unlike most other injuries on this list, MCL and ACL tears take much longer to recover from and may even require surgery to fix. ACL tears may take many months to heal and will most likely require surgery, whereas MCL tears may only take a few months to heal without surgery required.

10. Dislocations

Unlike a fracture, where bones break, dislocations involve the dislocation of a bone. These can occur as a result of a hard hit, say in American football, or by falling hard enough onto a surface, and can shift bones out of place. This action causes a good amount of pain, however these injuries are not necessarily as serious as they seem.

Usually, dislocations can be dealt with with ample rest. In some cases, athletes may require a sling to properly heal.