Preventing Common Sports Injuries with Physical Therapy

For Americans, sports have always contributed to social integration and have been a social glue, bonding the country together. However, along with promoting bonding among people, it is also one of the major causes of injury in children, teens and adults, accounting for one-third of all injuries. But, physical therapy is a sigh of relief amid these increasing numbers, allowing easy recovery from sports injuries and prevention from future damages. 

In the United States, more than 3.5 million children and teenagers who participate in organized sports encounter injuries each year. These injuries can be painful and result in a loss of valuable participation time. Common sports-related injuries include bruises, sprains, strains, joint injuries, nosebleeds, hamstring strains, groin pulls, shin splints, ACL tears, and concussions.

 It is important to note that sports injury risk varies among sports. For instance, basketball, football, soccer, and baseball have a higher chance of injury. Moreover, extreme sports such as surfing, mountain biking, motocross, skateboarding, snowboarding, snowmobiling, and snow skiing have been linked to over 4 million injuries over 11 years

This blog aims to provide insights into injury prevention and the role physical therapy has in aiding recovery for those already injured. Whether you’re a parent concerned about your child’s safety in sports or a young athlete seeking guidance, keep reading to learn more about the world of sports injury prevention and recovery and how physical therapy can be a valuable asset in both scenarios.

Understanding Common Sports Injuries

Sports injuries are an unfortunate reality affecting athletes of all ages and skill sets. These injuries come in various forms, from minor sprains and strains to more severe injuries like fractures and dislocations. These injuries may result from overuse, direct impacts, or awkward movements. 

The musculoskeletal system, which comprises bones, muscles, tendons, ligaments, and cartilage, is most commonly affected by sports injuries. These injuries often lead to pain, swelling, and stiffness, limiting athletes’ or individuals’ ability to engage in their chosen sport.

Risk factors- 

Numerous factors can increase an individual’s susceptibility to sports injuries. 

  • Age- Younger athletes and children are at higher risk for sports injuries.
  • Gender- Females are more prone to injury than males. 
  • The type of sport or physical activity individuals engage in also affects their injury risk. Contact sports like football and hockey have a higher risk of injury than non-contact activities like swimming, golf or running.
  • Training methods, conditioning, and equipment quality influence their injury risk. 
  • Overuse- repetitive stress on a specific part of the body from repetitive movements, such as running, jumping, and throwing 

Common Sports Injury Types

  • Sprains

Sprains involve the overstretching or tearing of ligaments, which are tough connective tissues binding bones together. Symptoms include pain, swelling, and limited joint mobility.

  • Strains

Strains occur when muscles or tendons, the cords connecting muscles to bones, are excessively stretched or torn. This injury results in pain, muscle weakness, and restricted movement in the affected area.

  • Fractures

Fractures are characterized by broken bones stemming from various causes like falls, direct impacts, or overuse. Symptoms encompass severe pain, swelling, and an inability to bear weight on the affected limbs. 

  • Dislocations

Dislocations happen when a bone is forcefully displaced from its regular joint position, often due to a fall, sudden impact, or awkward joint positioning. Dislocations lead to intense pain, joint deformity, and immobility.

  • Tendinitis

Tendinitis denotes the inflammation of tendons, usually arising from overuse or repetitive movements. It manifests as localized pain, swelling, and joint or muscle mobility issues.

  • Bursitis

Bursitis involves the inflammation of bursae, fluid-filled sacs that cushion and reduce friction within joints. It is commonly the result of overuse or joint injury, causing localized pain, swelling, and limited joint range of motion.

Addressing the increased risk of sports injuries, expert physical therapists at Total Performance have curated specific programs like golf performance, overhead throwing analysis, and running and gait analysis to improve overall performance and reduce the risk of injury. 

Role & Benefits of Physical Therapy in Sports Injury Prevention 

Physical therapy is pivotal in keeping athletes injury-free by addressing various aspects contributing to musculoskeletal issues. Here, we’ll break down how physical therapists help prevent sports injuries in an easy-to-understand manner:

Strength and Conditioning for Injury Prevention

Strength and conditioning play a crucial role in injury prevention by improving the body’s physical attributes, which include – 

  • Strengthens Muscles, Tendons, Ligaments, and Bones
  • Maintains Proper Alignment
  • Protection During Movement and Impact
  • Resilient Muscles and Bones
  • Enhances Joint Stability
  • Improves Balance and Coordination
  • Addresses Muscle Imbalances
  • Transfers Pressure to Muscles
  • Supports Surrounding Tissues
  • Decreases the Risk of Injury

Strength and Conditioning Exercises for Injury Prevention:

  • Machine Weights: Machine strength training involves using machines with weight stacks, hydraulics, resistance rods or bands, and resistance tubing. The resistance can be adjusted to increase the exercise’s intensity. However, machines may neglect stabilizer muscles.
  • Free Weights: Free weight strength training includes barbells, dumbbells, kettlebells, medicine balls, and more. The weight can be changed, and the range of motion is not limited, requiring stabilizing muscles to work. Form can be a challenge.
  • Own Body-Weight Exercises: These exercises utilize the athlete’s body weight as resistance, including plyometrics, push-ups, pull-ups, abdominal exercises, sprinting, and jumping rope. The weight remains constant and changes as the athlete’s body changes. Stabilizing muscles come into play due to the variable range and movement path.

Benefits of Strength and Conditioning – 

Appropriate strength and conditioning training can enhance physical performance, while incorrect training can be detrimental.

  • It targets mind, mobility, stability, strength, endurance, power, speed, agility, and overall performance.
  • It combines strength training, aerobic conditioning, speed and agility training, and sport-specific exercises.
  • Its goal is to reduce the incidence and severity of sports injuries while improving technique and overall performance.

Strength and conditioning can benefit individuals of different ages and abilities, including a return to sports assessments for athletes, sports enthusiasts,  and older adults looking to maintain and improve their health and quality of life. 

Flexibility and Range of Motion

Flexibility training is essential for maintaining muscle elasticity, which enables muscles to absorb impact and stretch without tearing. This is crucial for preventing injuries during sudden movements, direction changes, and landing from jumps.

Stretches and Mobility Exercises:

Some common exercises and their benefits include:

  • Static Stretching: Involves holding a stretch for a specific duration, targeting specific muscle groups to improve flexibility and reduce the risk of muscle strains.
  • Dynamic Stretching: Involves controlled movements through a full range of motion, preparing the muscles and joints for the demands of physical activity.
  • PNF (Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation) Stretching: Incorporates techniques like contract-relax and hold-relax to improve flexibility by targeting muscle and joint receptors.
  • Yoga and Pilates: Both practices include various exercises and poses that enhance flexibility, balance, and strength, reducing the risk of injuries.
  • Foam Rolling: A self-myofascial release technique that helps alleviate muscle tension and improve flexibility, particularly in the legs and lower back.
  • Sports-Specific Stretches: Tailored to the demands of a particular sport, these stretches prepare the body for the specific movements required in that activity.

Flexibility exercises can aid post-exercise recovery by reducing muscle soreness and promoting better muscle circulation.

Injury-Prone Body Parts: Targeted Prevention

Some body parts are more prone to injuries than others in sports and physical activities. To help you safeguard your well-being and enjoy your favorite sports to the fullest, specific strategies customized for vulnerable body parts and joints, namely the shoulder, knee and ankle, are designed to prevent injuries. 

Knee Injury Prevention:

  • Strategies for Knee Injury Prevention: The knee is a common site for injuries, especially in sports involving jumping and sudden changes in direction. Key prevention strategies include maintaining strong quadriceps and hamstrings, using proper landing and cutting techniques, and ensuring proper shoe fit and support.
  • Rehabilitation and Preventive Exercises: To strengthen the knee and reduce the risk of injury, exercises like squats, lunges, leg extensions, and leg curls are valuable. Stretching exercises enhance flexibility and stability, particularly for the quadriceps and hamstrings. Check out the knee pain relief program by our experts at Total Performance to know more. 

Ankle Injury Prevention:

  • Strategies for Ankle Injury Prevention: Ankle injuries are frequent in sports with quick lateral movements or jumping. Prevention involves wearing proper footwear, taping or bracing if needed, and focusing on balance and proprioception training to improve ankle stability.
  • Rehabilitation and Preventive Exercises: According to the ankle pain relief program by expert physical therapists, calf raises, ankle circles, resistance band exercises, and balance exercises benefit ankle rehabilitation and injury prevention. Strengthening the calf and shin muscles can enhance stability.

Shoulder Injury Prevention:

  • Strategies for Shoulder Injury Prevention: Shoulder injuries are a concern in sports involving overhead motions. Proper warm-up, good posture, and balanced shoulder strength are essential. Pay attention to technique and avoid overuse.
  • Rehabilitation and Preventive Exercises: Shoulder pain relief exercises like shoulder external rotations, rows, scapular squeezes, and wall angels help strengthen the rotator cuff muscles and improve shoulder stability. Stretching exercises for the chest and shoulders can enhance flexibility.

At Total Performance, our expert physical therapists also provide programs for back pain relief, sciatica relief, neck pain relief, hip pain relief, foot pain relief, elbow, wrist and hand pain relief, and for balance and gait disorder, where the targeted body part is treated, strengthened and recovered for better sports performance

Recovery and Rehabilitation

Dealing with minor injuries like sprains, strains, and bruises can be a frustrating interruption to your daily life or athletic pursuits, and this is where physical therapy steps in. Some strategic approaches to accelerate effective physical therapy recovery are – 

  • Rest: Despite its counterintuitive nature, providing ample rest to your injured body is paramount. Avoid activities that worsen the injury and allow your body the dedicated time it needs for healing and tissue repair.
  • Ice and Compression: Combat inflammation and pain by applying ice packs to the affected area. Additionally, compression wraps can aid in minimizing swelling, expediting the healing process.
  • Elevation: Elevating the injured area above heart level aids in reducing swelling and enhancing blood flow, contributing to a speedier recovery.

Role of Physical Therapy in Post-Injury Rehabilitation

Apart from range-of-motion and strengthening exercises, a few other approaches for post-injury rehabilitation include – 

Ultrasound – 

Ultrasound therapy involves using sound waves that create vibrations. These vibrations produce a gentle heat that penetrates the body’s deep tissues. Its benefits include – 

  • Pain Relief: Ultrasound can help alleviate pain by increasing blood flow and promoting relaxation in the targeted area.
  • Tissue Healing: The heat generated by ultrasound can stimulate the healing process by enhancing the metabolism of cells in the treated area.
  • Reduced Inflammation: The increased blood flow can aid in reducing inflammation, contributing to a quicker recovery.

Electrical Stimulation – 

Electrical stimulation, or e-stim, utilizes electrical impulses to stimulate muscles or nerves. This can be done through electrodes placed on the skin. Benefits for the same include – 

  • Pain Management: Electrical stimulation can block pain signals, relieving various types of discomfort.
  • Muscle Contractions: It can induce controlled muscle contractions, helping to strengthen and rehabilitate muscles.
  • Reduced Swelling: By promoting circulation, electrical stimulation can assist in reducing swelling and promoting healing.

Heat Therapy – 

Heat therapy involves applying heat to the body through hot packs, warm towels, or other methods to increase blood flow to the targeted area. The benefits of heat therapy are – 

  • Muscle Relaxation: Heat helps relax muscles and can be particularly beneficial for relieving muscle spasms and stiffness.
  • Improved Blood Flow: Increased blood flow carries more oxygen and nutrients to the treated area, supporting healing.
  • Pain Relief: Heat can dull pain signals and provide a soothing effect, promoting comfort.

Aquatic Therapy by Total Performance for Recovery from Sports Injury – 

At Total Performance; we understand its transformative power. Heat becomes a guiding force in elevating your well-being on land or in the water. Total Performance’s Aquatic Heat Therapy in private heated pools with controlled temperatures is your secret weapon for athletes seeking more than the ordinary. 

Key Benefits of Aquatic Therapy:

  • Aerobic Boost: Elevate your aerobic capacity for better health through specially crafted water exercises.
  • Coordination Mastery: Improve coordination and balance as water challenges your movements in a supportive environment.
  • Stress Relief: Dive into stress reduction and relaxation courtesy of the calming waters.
  • Flexibility and Movement: Enhance flexibility and movement with the buoyancy of water, providing a unique workout experience.
  • Muscle Power: Build muscle strength and endurance, amplifying your rehabilitation journey.
  • Speedy Healing: Boost the healing process, reducing recovery time with the therapeutic embrace of water.

Aquatic therapy targets both upper and lower extremities. Starting with mild activities, you’ll progress to cardiovascular and core motions like jogging, squatting, and swings. Each session ends with cooling down strategies, leaving you refreshed and revitalized.


Your athletic journey is more than just victories and records. It’s about playing smart and ensuring you stay in the game for the long run. When you put injury prevention at the forefront, you’re investing in your success – maintaining fitness, avoiding the setbacks of injuries, and enjoying your sport without the fear of pain.
Total Performance emerges as a guiding force, introducing specialized programs tailored to reduce specific sports-related risks, ensuring a comprehensive approach to well-being. Are you ready to invest in your long-term athletic success? Schedule an appointment with our expert physical therapists at Total Performance now!


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