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Injuries can be the toughest things an athlete faces. One misstep, one trip, or one foul can leave you unable to play the game you love. But just as athletes work to make the body strong, they can also work to help their bodies heal. 

The first step is knowing how to treat and prevent common sports injuries.  
  

Sprains and Strains

Sprains and strains are minor injuries to the ligaments and muscle tendons that cause bruising, swelling, cramping, and reduced mobility. They’re caused by forceful use or overuse of a muscle, making them the most common sports injuries. 

Prevention 

The best prevention methods for sprains and strains are stretching and warming up before you hit the field, gym, or court. Especially focus on the hands, ankles, and legs, which are the most common areas for sprains. 

When you’re training, try to raise your intensity gradually instead of all at once. Also, be sure to wear the right kind of shoes.

Treatment 

Experts recommend the R.I.C.E method of treatment for strains and sprains: rest, ice, compression, and elevation. Do not try to continue to play with a sprained muscle. A gentle body, hand, or foot massage and pain medication can also ease symptoms. 

Torn ACL 

The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in your knee can become sprained like any other ligament. But when the ACL tears, it can lead to major pain, swelling, and loss of stability in the knee. 

Prevention 

As with sprains, warming up and stretching this area can prevent an ACL injury. As you’re playing, you should also be aware of how you land on your feet after you jump. Try to keep both feet under you, and avoid allowing your knees to collapse inward. 

Treatment

In the immediate wake of an ACL tear, start with R.I.C.E to prevent the injury from getting worse. Afterward, you’ll likely need surgery and physical therapy. Back in the day, an ACL tear was a career-ender. Fortunately, you should now be able to get back on the field again after treatment.

Concussions

A concussion traditionally occurs after a blow to the head, but being severely shaken can cause one as well. When this happens, the brain collides with the inside of the skull, causing brain trauma. Signs of concussion are dizziness, confusion, headaches, nausea, sensitivity to light, and blurred vision.

Prevention 

Unfortunately, beyond doing your best to avoid being struck in the head, there’s no preventing a concussion. Wearing properly fitting headgear can reduce the severity of concussions; however, you can still get a concussion even while wearing a helmet. 

Treatment 

Never ignore a head injury. If you get a concussion in the middle of a game, get out of the game and immediately get evaluated by a doctor. You should rest and avoid mentally stimulating activity and screen time as much as possible.

Taking the time to treat and prevent sports injuries may be the difference between getting to play again and not. Take the time to let your body heal, and then get back in the game.

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