Sports injuries are injuries that occur during exercise or while participating in a sport. Children are particularly at risk for these injuries. Both children and adults who are out of shape, don’t warm up properly before exercise, or play contact sports also risk getting this type of injury.

Most sports injuries result in damage to your limbs, including:

  • broken bones
  • strains and sprains
  • dislocations
  • torn tendons
  • muscle swelling

Children are especially at risk for sports injuries because they often don’t know their limits.

Sometimes, serious injuries start off as small ones. Many injuries that result from overuse, such as tendonitis and stress fractures, can be recognized early by a doctor.

Children or adults who plan to begin participating in sports should first have a physical examination by a doctor.

Many sports injuries cause immediate pain or discomfort. Others, such as overuse injuries and tendonitis, make themselves known only after long-term damage. These injuries are often diagnosed during routine physical examinations or checkups.

People who regularly engage in physical activities with a high risk of injuries should have regular checkups with their doctor.

A common treatment regimen for sports injuries is known as “RICE,” which stands for:

  • rest
  • ice
  • compression
  • elevation

Both over-the-counter and prescription medications are available to treat sports injuries. Most of them provide relief from pain and swelling.

Serious sports injuries can require surgery and physical therapy.

Call a doctor if there are signs of swelling or if it hurts to place weight on the affected area. If the problem is in the location of a previous injury, seek attention right away.

University of Rochester Medical Center recommends that you contact a medical professional if you don’t see any improvement after 24 to 36 hours of RICE.

Because a child’s immature skeleton has weaker bones than an adult’s, you should take extra care with a child’s sports injuries. What looks like a tissue injury may in fact be a more serious fracture, according to research published in the International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy.

The best way to prevent a sports injury is to warm up properly. Your body needs to be conditioned for the exercise you expect it to handle.

Other steps you can take to avoid sports injuries include:

Using the proper technique

Learn the proper way to do your sport or activity. Different types of exercise require different stances and postures. For example, in some sports, bending your knees at the appropriate time can help to avoid an injury to your spine or hips.

Having the proper equipment

Wear the right shoes and make sure you have the proper athletic protection.

Not overdoing it

If you do get hurt, make sure you’re healed before you dive back into the pool or return to the field. Don’t try to “work through” the pain.

Cooling down

Remember to cool down after your activity. Usually, this involves doing the same stretching and exercises involved in a warmup.