Sunday, April 14
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6 Common Injuries: Prevention and Recovery

Whether or not you’re an athlete, we’re all susceptible to injuries, especially as we age. You know the benefits of hiking and other physical activities, but physical activity can lead to pain. At the same time, a sedentary lifestyle can lead to injuries, so there’s no real way to prevent injuries throughout our lives. 

Many people get injured on a daily basis from everything from sports to regular activities like walking their dogs or doing chores. A few of the most common injuries include the following:

  1. ACL Tears

ACL tears are common in athletes, but they can happen to anyone who is active and suddenly stops or changes direction. When you fall victim to this injury, your knee feels like it pops, making it quickly swollen and painful. 

 

Walking after an ACL tear can be impossible for some, while others can use crutches to get around. After you recover, you can slowly put weight back on your knee. However, you’ll need to avoid activities that require sudden stops, jumps, or change in direction because you can re-injure yourself. 

 

While you can’t always prevent an ACL tear, you can take care of yourself at home. Doctors recommend you stay active but avoid vigorous activity as you heal. In most cases, people tend to recover from ACL tears within a few short months. However, those with more severe ruptures may require surgery. 

  1. Ankle Sprains

Twisting your ankle isn’t something that happens only to athletes. Many people twist their ankles doing everyday activities like walking or going down the stairs. Ultimately, you can roll your ankle at any point if you move. There’s no way to prevent ankle sprains other than wearing supportive footwear, but even that’s not 100% perfect. 

 

Ankle sprains can happen to anyone, and they can be incredibly painful and take a long time to fully heal. For the most part, you can treat a sprained ankle at home with rest, ice, compression, and elevation to promote healing. You should also try to keep weight off it as much as possible. 

 

However, if the pain is severe and you can’t put any weight on it, you should visit your doctor as soon as possible since it could indicate a break. However, once your ankle’s initial pain has subsided, you can stretch it until you can fully walk on it again. 

  1. Concussion

Concussions are common sports injuries, but many non-athletes can also be susceptible to concussions if they hit their heads. For instance, if you fall down the stairs or are in a car accident, you can easily get a concussion. Concussions are mild brain injuries, but unfortunately, there’s no way to know if you have a concussion unless you visit the doctor. Any time you hit your head hard, you should visit your doctor as soon as possible for diagnosis. 

 

Your doctor will perform a neurological exam to determine whether you have a concussion and how to treat it. Most doctors will recommend rest and avoiding any exerting activities. However, if you have a severe injury, they may suggest taking time off from work or school. 

 

In most cases, any pain can be treated with an over-the-counter pain medication, but some can increase the risk of bleeding, so you should follow your doctor’s instructions. Once the symptoms of a concussion subside, you can resume sports and more vigorous activities again, but it’s important to protect your head, especially during the healing process, because you run the risk of a second, more severe concussion. 

  1. Hamstring Strain

Pulling your hamstring is another common injury, especially for athletes who often overwork their muscles. You’ll feel hamstring pain any time you work out a little too much the day before. Muscle tightness can also cause a pulled hamstring, along with obesity and malnutrition. 

 

Recovering from a hamstring strain depends on the severity of the injury. A minor injury can take up to two weeks to heal, while major injuries can take several months. If you pull your hamstring, your doctor may recommend strength training exercises and stretching. 

  1. Shin Splints

Shin splints are lower leg injuries that can happen to anyone for a variety of reasons ranging from walking too much to running on hard pavement. Individuals with fallen arches and poor foot positioning are more susceptible to this type of injury. Shin splints can be prevented with proper footwear with good support, but this isn’t always the case. 

 

Unfortunately, the only way to recover from a painful shin splint is to reduce physical activity. The more stress on the shins, the more pain you’ll feel. Wearing compression leggings or socks may also help reduce pain, especially during physical activity.

 

In any case, minor shin splints shouldn’t affect your daily life too much. While painful, you should still be able to put weight on your legs and feet. 

  1. Pulled Muscles 

Calves and hamstrings are the most commonly pulled muscles, but many people pull their necks or backs from time to time. These injuries can happen during everyday activities or sports. In most cases, they can be prevented by increasing muscle flexibility by stretching properly, especially before physical exercise. 

Pain relievers are the most common treatment for pulled muscles. 

 

Something as simple as ibuprofen can make you more comfortable and prevent these injuries from upsetting your everyday life. Other than medication, rest is the best medicine for pulled muscles. You can also gently stretch your muscles throughout the day for some relief. 

When to See a Doctor

Injuries might seem like minor common injuries that don’t require medical care, but if you’re experiencing severe pain and swelling that affects your daily life, you should consult a doctor as soon as possible. 

 

Rest, ice, and pain medication can help heal most common minor injuries, but they won’t help with more severe injuries. Unfortunately, there are different levels of each type of injury. A minor sprain may be able to heal on its own, but a major one may require surgery. Consulting your doctor any time you’re hurt can prevent major complications down the line. 

 

Megan Isola

 

Megan Isola holds a Bachelor of Science in Hospitality and a minor in Business Marketing from Cal State University Chico. She enjoys going to concerts, trying new restaurants, and hanging out with friends.