Though there is no such thing as a "safe" sport, highly competitive sports, such as football, weightlifting, gymnastics, and wrestling, pose particularly higher risks of injuries, especially among children. According to experts, as much as 20 percent of all sports-related injuries involve the lower back or neck. Running and weightlifting, and other sports that involve repetitive impact, expose children to a high risk for lumbar (lower back) injuries. Contact sports, such as soccer and football, expose the cervical spine, or neck, to injury. More than one-third of all high school football players sustain some type of injury. Soccer participants are easy candidates for mild to severe head traumas, neck injuries, cervical spine damage, headache, neck pain, dizziness, irritability, and insomnia. Heading the ball, the act of using the head to re-direct the soccer ball, has been linked with cervical injuries in children and adults. The trampoline and gymnastics also present significant risks for spinal cord injuries from unexpected and brute falls or contact with hard surfaces.
Here's a look at some of the other common injuries by sport:
• Bicycling – Poor posture can greatly increase your risks of a back injury during cycling. When riding a bike, your lower back is constantly flexing sideways and up and down. Upper back injuries can involve the flexing of the neck. And the bumps and jars incurred on the road during cycling can wreak havoc and possible compression injuries to your spine.
• Golf – Common injuries incurred during the sport of golf usually involve muscle sprains and strains to the lower back.
• Running/jogging – Running and jogging puts a great deal of stress on your back, since the constant pounding against a hard surface can jar, and possibly compress, structures such as vertebrae, joints, and discs.
• Skiing – Skiing involves a great deal of twisting and turning motions, as well as jarring landings, all of which can cause muscle sprains and strains and in some cases, minor spinal fractures.
• Swimming – Swimmers are known to incur lower back injuries. Motions such as the crawl or breaststroke can cause the lumbar region to be hyperextended. If the swimmer is not properly conditioned or warmed up, the hyperextension sometimes doesn't subside.
• Tennis – "Tennis elbow" is a layman's term for pain on the lateral, or outside part of the elbow, on or near the bony protrusion. Tennis elbow is caused when the tendon from the elbow bone tears or is ruptured. It is no surprise that professional tennis players can become inflicted with this with all of the stress and strain they place on the joint during play. In addition, tennis players are in constant motion, and the repeated twisting and trunk rotations can cause injuries. Shoulder injuries and turned ankles and knees also are common. The act of serving the ball also has been shown to hyperextend the lower back, and possibly compress discs.
• Weight lifting/body building – Body builders are at a significant risk for a host of serious back, shoulder, neck, and knee injuries. Resistance training has been known to cause muscle sprains and strains, ligament and tendon injuries, and in some cases, stress fractures (also called spondylolysis). Older people seem to be at higher risk since their bones and discs are more brittle.
Untold musculoskeletal injuries occur every day when people lift heavy or even slightly heavy objects without following techniques.
Even a so-called simple task of lifting a box from the ground to place on a higher level such as a shelf or table can cause muscle and back strain.
Remember this simple rule when lifting: Never bend from your waist when standing upright to pick up something. Keep your back straight and crouch first by bending at the knees or hips, depending on where the item is that you are lifting. This allows your arms and shoulder muscles, not your back, to do the brunt of the work.
Back injuries from improper lifting techniques generally lead to three kinds of injuries to the muscles, vertebral discs, and joints. Here is a brief synopsis of those types of injuries:
• Disc injury – Improper lifting can cause the soft cushions between your vertebrae, called discs, to tear, rupture, or shift out of position. Often, the fibrous rings surrounding the soft leathery discs can bulge and even rupture. Such an injury can cause the dislocated or ruptured disc to press against a nerve, causing pain and numbness to radiate down into your buttocks and/or leg.
• Joint injury – You may be surprised to know there are numerous joints in your spinal column connecting all of the various bony structures. A bad lift can cause excessive strain on these joints, irritating tissue within them, and in some cases, causing them to lock up.
• Muscle injury – If you change your position during a lift, you place a lot of stress on your lower back muscles. This can easily strain and injure, usually in the form of a small twist or tear, a muscle or group of muscles. Muscle strain is a very common form of back injury. A muscle pull or strain is often painful and can disable key body parts such as your back, hips, shoulders, neck, and knees.