Sports Medicine
Sports Injury Prevention & Rehabilitation

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Athletic Edge - Sports Specific Injuries

Sports Specific Injuries:

Playing style, technique, rules of play, equipment, level of contact, level of competition, and level of training can all contribute to risks of injuries. There are many injuries common to particular sports and activities such as swimmer's shoulder, tennis elbow, golfer's elbow, skier's thumb, runner's knee, turf toe, and dancer's fracture. Contact sports such as team court and field sports are associated with more traumatic injuries. Sports and athletic activities requiring explosive bursts of speed, cutting and turning maneuvers, and jumping and landing increase risk of injury to the lower body.
There are other factors less predictable that contribute to injury risks. These include weather conditions, playing surface conditions, and faulty equipment. Past pain or injuries can suddenly reoccur during play. Weakness that was not noticed can cause injury if the area is stressed and falters. Overuse of a joint or muscle group always can lead to pain and injury.

In general, sports injuries can be classified as either due to accident (trauma) or wear and tear (overuse). Regardless, there is a lot that can be done to prevent injuries. Knowing what you are at risk for is half the battle. Following is a description of the most frequent injuries related to each fitness activity. In preventing these injuries, a focus is also placed on maintaining overall health and conditioning, as this can often be overlooked in a highly competitive environment.

More Sports-Specific Injuries:

Aerobics, Circuit, Kickboxing, and Exercise Classes

  • Although these activities are fun and usually offer a great cardio workout, the repetitive motions can lead to a variety of overuse injuries, especially if techniques are poor. Instructors should be well trained on enforcing proper form and instruct activities that do not cause injuries, but it is often difficult for them to watch everyone in class closely enough. Occasionally, they themselves do not demonstrate proper technique.
  • The faster the pace of a class, the more equipment used, and the larger the range of repetitive movements, the more likely an injury. Improper posture, poor balance, and quick, uncontrolled movements can lead to ankle sprains, shoulder tendinitis, knee bursitis and tendinitis, and muscle sprains. Squats, lunges, and dead lifts, common exercise class moves, often cause knee or back stress, pain, and injury. Repetitive quick twisting and kicking motions in kickboxing classes are risky to backs and legs. Weights that are gripped too tightly or too heavily can lead to wrist, arm, and shoulder injuries. Foot injuries can also be due to shoes that have insufficient support or have lost their cushioning or support from overuse. Ankle sprains, plantar fasciitis, and calf injuries are common.
  • To prevent injuries in exercise classes: Do not take more than three of the same class a week, alternating days with other activities or rest. Do not do any movements or activities or use weights or equipment you are uncomfortable with, and especially avoid those that cause pain. Ask your instructor if you have questions regarding techniques. If you do not feel you get a reasonable answer, take a class with a different instructor. Make sure you get new shoes every three to six months, especially for high-impact, jumping classes.
  • Factors Increasing Risk of Exercise Class Injuries
  • Faster pace of class
  • Large motions
  • More types of equipment used
  • Quick, repetitive movements
  • Basketball
  • The most common injury to a basketball player is an ankle sprain. Knee injuries to the ACL and meniscus can also be common, along with finger dislocations, jams, and fractures. Contact injuries and falls can result in more serious injuries. Overuse injuries can lead to sprains, strains, and tendinitis, including jumper's knee (patellar tendinitis).
  • ACL injuries can occur three to six times more in female than male basketball players. ACL tears usually require surgery and three to six months of recovery time.
  • To prevent injuries in basketball: Knee injuries can be prevented with quad and hamstring strengthening, balance activities, and improved jumping and landing techniques. An excellent conditioning program includes cutting maneuvers, skill drills, and single-leg jumping and landing techniques. Box jumping, side stepping, running cones, and jumping rope on one leg is great practice.

  • Bowlers can get back, knee, elbow, wrist, and finger sprains. Most injuries are soft tissue sprains or tendinitis, although occasional injuries occur related to falls or dropped balls.
  • To prevent bowling injuries: Bowlers should do general strengthening and stretching exercises for the back, legs, and arms. Wrist- and upper-arm-strengthening exercises are also recommended. Bowlers should also add 30 minutes of cardiovascular activities to their workout schedules 3 to 5 days a week.

  • Besides expected contact injuries, boxers tend to suffer upper extremity injuries, including wrist, elbow, and shoulder sprains. Shin splints, Achilles tendinitis, plantar fasciitis, and knee and leg tendinitis can occur due to repeated short, quick steps and jump-rope training.
  • To prevent boxing injuries: Upper body strengthening is recommended, particularly to the wrists and shoulders. Proper punching, jabbing, and defensive techniques are crucial to avoiding overuse injuries. Wrapping should be done correctly to protect the fingers, hands, and wrists. Protective gear, including headpiece, mouthpiece, chest guards, and groin protectors, should be adequate and fit properly so they are optimally functional. It is suggested to wear well-cushioned, supportive cross-training shoes when training to prevent overuse injuries in the legs, ankles, and feet.

  • With advanced cheerleading there is a risk of serious traumatic injuries and fractures due to falls. Jumping and landing can cause ankle and knee injuries. Wrist, elbow, and shoulder injuries can occur from repetitive quick motions. Because cheerleaders are usually thin, they are at higher risk of eating disorders and stress fractures.
  • To prevent cheerleading injuries: General strengthening of the upper and lower body should be done two to three times a week. Stretching should be done daily to maintain flexibility. Balance training is helpful to prevent ankle sprains and falls.

  • The upper body is susceptible to injuries in climbing. Handholds can result in finger tendon injuries; tendinitis and nerve injuries can also occur from the strain and stretch of climbing holds. To prevent catastrophic injuries, climbing should never be done alone, and preferably with a very experienced climber. Wearing a helmet is recommended to prevent head injuries due to accidents or falling debris.
  • To prevent climbing injuries: Climbers should do general body strengthening two to three times weekly. Wrist-strengthening and balance exercises are excellent injury prevention measures. Learning proper technique and having working and correctly used equipment is crucial to safety and injury prevention.

  • Cycling often leads to repetitive motion injuries, particularly knee pain. Tendinitis of the knee, Achilles, and hip can occur. Nerve injuries can occur across the wrist and in the feet due to positioning and pressure on these areas. Neck pain is common and can occasionally be serious, with disc herniations leading to pinched nerves. Thigh and genital irritation can occur with long rides in the heat. Falls can lead to severe abrasions, fractures often to the collarbone, and head injuries.
  • To prevent cycling injuries: Always wear a helmet, and ride a bike appropriate for your size. Padded gloves can prevent hand pain. A comfortable or cut-out seat and padded shorts will protect the genital area. You should be extremely familiar with clicking in and out of cleats and know how to shift without looking down. Biking alone is not recommended; having a cell phone is an excellent idea in case of emergency. Because cycling is easy on most joints, correcting seat and bike alignment usually corrects pain in the knees, hips, or neck. Stretching in the opposite direction of the crouched cycling position should be done after riding with extension exercises (arched head, neck, and back) to improve posture. Yoga twice a week would be an excellent way to prevent posture problems and establish core strength and stability. Weight-bearing exercises such as walking, hiking, or jogging with upper body strengthening should be done two to three times a week to protect bones.


  • Injuries vary between types of dance. In general, hip, lower leg, and back pain is most common due to a frequently arched back. Ankle, foot, and toe problems can result from en-pointe exercises. Poor turnout can lead to hip problems. Knees can be strained and cartilage torn from twisting, rotation, squatting, jumping, and landing, resulting in knee, foot, and ankle tendinitis. Stress fractures and dancers fractures (foot) can also occur, especially in thin dancers who also are at risk of eating disorders.
  • To prevent dance injuries: Proper technique and flexibility is crucial. Rest is essential to prevent overuse injuries. Proper nutrition with adequate calories and calcium is necessary to prevent stress fractures. Abdominal or core strengthening should be done at least three times weekly to prevent back pain and injury.

  • Neck and back injuries can be common from high-velocity movements and impact of water entry. Shoulders can become unstable and painful. Repeated high-velocity water impact can cause wrist tendinitis and chronic sprains. Back injuries, including spondylolisthesis, can occur. Jumping results in overuse ankle and lower leg injuries. Other traumatic injuries include contusions and lacerations and occur more often in 10 M platform diving. Divers can also develop problems with their ears or repeated dizziness.
  • To prevent diving injuries: Overall strengthening along with core stabilization such as pilates should be done three times weekly. The focus should be on back, abdominal, shoulder, and wrist strengthening. Stretching should be done daily to maintain necessary flexibility. Lower leg strengthening and stretching should be done three times weekly to prevent calf, ankle, and foot pain and injury. Proper nutrition and adequate calories are crucial, as divers are at high risk of eating disorders leading to poor bone health.

  • Activities in fencing are done primarily on one side of the body, leading to overuse injuries on that side. Leg overuse injuries include iliotibial band syndrome and plantar fasciitis. Ankle sprains, foot injuries, knee ligament sprains, meniscus tears, and wrist and hand tendinitis can also occur. Lumbar sprains, along with other causes of back pain, can be common due to the forward posture. Traumatic injuries are a risk from the weapon.
  • To prevent fencing injuries: Leg and spine strength and flexibility is essential. To maintain posture and promote body balance, core strengthening and stretching such as yoga should be done at least twice weekly.

Field Hockey
  • Like most field sports, ankle sprains are most common. Spine pain and even disc herniations can occur due to bending and rotating required during play. Knee injuries of all types can be frequent. Hand, wrist, and elbow sprains can occur. Due to the contact nature of the sport, as well as the use of sticks and balls, fractures, shoulder and knee trauma, and head and face injuries can occur.
  • To prevent field hockey injuries: Balance drills and overall body strengthening and stretching should be done three times weekly. Proper technique is important in stick and ball handling to prevent overuse injuries of the wrists and back, and equipment should be properly sized.

  • 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.

  • Both endurance and sprint training lead to overuse leg injuries, the most common of which are iliotibial band syndrome, plantar fasciitis, metatarsalgia, Achilles and tibial tendinitis, and shinsplints. Sprinters frequently suffer hamstring sprains. Knee pain can also be common; runner's knee is patellofemoral syndrome; patellar tendinitis or jumper's knee can also be problematic. Meniscus injuries can occur from running on uneven terrain. Bursitis of the pelvis, hips, and knees can occur also as an overuse injury. Shinsplints are overuse injuries also associated with improper foot alignment in the shoe and also lower leg weakness. Morton's neuromas, tarsal tunnel, and bunions and blisters can also occur frequently in women due to improper shoe size worn while running and uncomfortable-fitting dress shoes. Compartment syndrome and stress fractures are the most serious running injuries. Eating disorders are more common in runners who desire to maintain an ultra-light frame.
  • To prevent running injuries: Conditioning should include hip, knee, and lower leg, ankle, and foot strengthening three times weekly, with stretching daily. A stretch-out strap or rope is recommended to promote optimum hamstring, calf, and foot flexibility. Proper shoe fit, arch support, and cushioning can also prevent shinsplints and foot pain. Shoes should be replaced every 300 miles in frequent runners, and rotated through two pairs if running is done daily. Banked running surfaces should be avoided, or running directions alternated if unavoidable. Adequate fluid and nutritional intake is essential for optimum performance and best health. The diet should contain recommended amounts of calcium to protect the bones and iron to prevent anemia.
  • Tips to Prevent Running Injuries
  • Shoes should be replaced every 300 miles.
  • Shoes should have adequate arch supports.
  • Avoid uneven and banked running surfaces.
  • Stretch after running.
  • Do toe curls and calf stretches daily.
  • Ice after a run if you have pain and take a day or two off until it feels better.

Scuba Diving/Snorkeling
  • It has been speculated that women are more susceptible to decompression sickness, but this is still under debate. Pregnancy is a contraindication to diving. Injuries are not frequently reported but are often secondary to equipment, marine life, and terrain. Hypothermia is a concern.
  • To prevent scuba diving injuries: Knowledge of terrain and equipment is most vital. Scuba diving should never be done alone. Having proper vision, swimming skills, and wet suits will prevent many injuries.

  • Figure skaters, like dancers, can suffer from back pain due to spondy, sprain, and disc injury. Thigh pain due to hamstring sprains and adductor tears and pulls can be chronic. Knee pain is also common secondary to bursitis or ligament sprains. Achilles tendinitis, foot tendinitis, and chronic injuries can also be problematic; even blisters can lead to other problems as position changes for pressure relief. Collisions, falls, and jumping and landing can result in fractures of the ankle, tibia, distal radius, femur, and patella, along with wrist sprains, shoulder separations, and knee and wrist ligament tears. Head injuries also occur. Figure skaters are at high risks for eating disorders and stress fractures.
  • To prevent skating injuries: Core strengthening should be done three times weekly, along with leg and knee strengthening. Flexibility is crucial, and stretching should be done daily. Proper technique will also prevent injuries. Skates should fit perfectly and not cause pressure on any one area of the foot or ankle. Rest is essential, as is adequate nutrition and calorie intake. Addressing injuries early is very important to prevent the injury from becoming chronic or causing other problems.

  • Skiing is notorious for knee injuries. ACL injuries occur more frequently in women. Meniscus and collateral ligament sprains and tears can also occur, along with patellar dislocations. Falls and caught poles can cause skier's thumb (a ligament tear) and shoulder injuries. Traumatic injuries include fractures of the arm, shoulder dislocations and separations, and thigh, pelvic, thumb, and wrist fractures. Collisions with other skiers, objects, and ski and lift equipment raises the risk of traumatic injuries. Environmental hazards include terrain, trees, tree wells, and ice; deep, heavy snow can increase knee injury risks also. Head injuries can be deadly. Traumatic injury risks decrease with Nordic and cross-country skiing.
  • To prevent skiing injuries: Quadriceps and hamstring strengthening should be done three times weekly. Core strengthening and balance drills help prevent falls. Equipment suited to skill level with bindings adjusted to release properly is crucial to injury prevention. Skiing within your skill level and being aware of terrain and conditions that might be threatening such as ice, poor visibility, or avalanche risk is essential. Helmets are advised, especially if tree skiing. Tree wells must be avoided. Nutrition is important, with adequate calorie and fluid intake; iron should also be adequate to prevent the anemia documented in female skiers. In skiing and mountain sports, heed the rule of threes: most injuries are likely to occur on the third day, after 3 p.m. and over 3,000 feet.
  • INJURY PREVENTION: Listen to your body and rest when you are tired—skiing injuries occur more often at the end of the day when you are tired.

  • Because of the daring nature of flips, jumps, and obstacle riding, traumatic injuries occur most in freestyle snowboarding. Common injuries are to the wrist and forearms including sprains, tendon tears, and fractures. Shoulder dislocations, chest injuries, rib fractures, and head injuries can also occur. Snowboarder's ankle is a fracture of the top of the ankle, most often caused by a fall.
  • To prevent snowboarding injuries: Knowing your terrain and riding within your limits is most important to prevent serious injuries. Abdominal and core strengthening can prevent falls. Educated falling with arms in, not outstretched, will prevent shoulder separations and dislocations, along with wrist and arm fractures. Helmets should be encouraged to prevent head injuries, due to the likelihood of backward falls. Tree wells must be avoided.

  • A variety of soccer injuries can occur due to field play, sprinting, kicking, and contact injuries. Ankle and knee sprains and injuries are most common, followed by back injuries, thigh and calf contusions, tears, and sprains. ACL tears are up to five times more common in female soccer players than in males. Goalkeepers are at more risk of arm and shoulder sprains and tendon injuries. Meniscus, ligament injuries, and patellar syndromes also occur. Turf toe, footballer's ankle, a pinched nerve in the ankle, inner thigh and hamstring sprains and tears, foot sprains, and stress fractures can also be problematic. Heading the ball can cause head and neck injuries.
  • To prevent soccer injuries: Balance and agility training is crucial for knees and ankles. Hamstring and quadriceps strength is important to prevent ACL injuries. Fields should be maintained and level. While cross-training, well-cushioned shoes should be worn. Core strength prevents abdominal and back injuries while promoting more powerful kicks. Kicking techniques should be optimum to prevent foot and ankle injuries.

Softball, Baseball, and Fast-Pitch Softball
  • Shoulder, elbow, wrist, and finger injuries are common due to both overuse and trauma from striking the ball, sliding into bases, or collisions. Ankle sprains are common. The foot-first sliding technique can result in ankle, foot, and knee ligament sprains, tears, and fractures. Sprinting can lead to hamstring and quadriceps sprains and strains. Pitching injuries include shoulder instability, inflammation, and tears, along with Little Leager's elbow, a stress-related bone or ligament injury. Hitting can lead to abdominal muscle tears, back injuries, or rib stress fractures.
  • To prevent softball and baseball injuries: Upper body strengthening should be done three times weekly, including wrist, elbow, and shoulder muscles. Stretching of the hips, thighs, and legs should be done before and after play. Core strengthening helps prevent hitting injuries. Balance and agility drills should be done to prevent ankle and knee injuries. Proper technique in catching, hitting, throwing, and sliding is essential to prevent traumatic and overuse injuries. Pitchers should be rotated and allowed to rest some games to avoid overuse injuries.

  • Swimmer's shoulder is the most frequently occurring overuse injury with components of impingement, tendinitis, bursitis, and instability. Breaststrokers can develop knee pain, including patellofemoral pain and MCL strains and sprains. Butterfly kicking can lead to back pain and spondylolisthesis. Finger jams can occasionally occur from striking lane lines or other swimmers. A frequent medical problem is swimmer's ear. Exercise-induced asthma can be irritated by the chemicals used in pool maintenance. The heavy training schedule and focus on body shape contributes to eating disorders. A relatively safe sport with no real risk of trauma, overall body injuries from improper cross-training occur almost as frequently as those due to overuse injuries in swimming.
  • To prevent swimming injuries: Rotator cuff strengthening is the number one recommended exercise and should be done at least three times weekly. Overstretching of the shoulders should be avoided, as swimmers are already prone to loose shoulder joints. For breaststrokers with knee pain, patellofemoral exercises should be done three times weekly. Abdominal and core strengthening is also important, especially in long-distance swimmers and stroke swimmers. Other swimming injuries have been attributed to nontraditional cross-training exercise. Overuse injuries are the most common, and rest is essential at least one day a week. Older swimmers should cross-train with land weight-bearing exercise to prevent osteoporosis. Swimmers should also perform balance exercises, as this is a common deficit in swimmers.

  • Overuse injuries of the wrist, shoulders, spine, legs, and feet, along with acute injuries, are common in tennis due to the quick, multidirectional, explosive nature of the sport. Tennis elbow (outer elbow pain) is the most widely known due to improper racket grip, tension, and poor technique. Other types of shoulder, wrist, and elbow tendinitis are also quite common. Core muscle sprains and tears can occur, along with back pain due to lumbar sprain, sacroilliitis, and disc problems. Tennis leg, calf muscle tears, Achilles tendinitis, and plantar fasciitis is also quite common. Ankle sprains occur frequently. Turf toe and tennis toe can also occur.
  • To prevent tennis injuries: Shoulder and wrist strengthening should be done three times weekly in the frequent tennis player. Calf and leg stretching after a short warmup is recommended before play. Balance drills prevent ankle sprains; core strengthening prevents abdominal muscle and back injuries. Equipment should also be appropriate; shoes should provide adequate cushioning and multidirectional support. Racket grip and string tension should be appropriate, particularly in players prone to tennis elbow. Correct technique and form, including hitting the ball in front of the body and minimizing wrist use, will prevent overuse injuries in the arm and shoulder.

  • Races combining swimming, biking, and running require many hours of training and result in overuse injuries associated with each sport, along with the traumatic injuries associated with biking. Specific to triathlons, the combination of open water swimming and cycling can cause chronic neck and shoulder pain, including nerve and muscle impingements. Running injuries are common and include plantar fasciitis and iliotibial band syndrome. Patellofemoral pain can develop due to running and cycling at intense levels. Eating disorders can be common, along with dehydration, anemia, and low sodium levels, secondary to the endurance nature of training and events.
  • To prevent triathlon injuries: Rest and flexibility is crucial. For ultra and endurance events, it is better to be slightly undertrained than overtrained, to reduce the incidence of chronic, overuse injuries. Event training should be seasonal, with at least a few months off a year to allow the body to heal and rest. The triathlete should rest at least one day a week and eat enough calories with slightly higher protein, iron, and B vitamins due to heavy endurance training. Calcium and dietary fat should be adequate to protect bones. Triathletes must also drink plentiful amounts of fluids, including electrolytes throughout training and throughout the day to replace what is lost. Proper equipment, cycle positioning, and frequent replacement of running shoes with proper support is essential. Thorough stretching two to three times weekly is important to prevent limited motion and pain.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.


  • 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.