Sports Injuries by Body Region

Sports injuries can happen anywhere in the body, especially if you play a physical sport that requires you to test the laws of gravity or physics.  While the majority of injuries sustained playing sports tend to be minor, there are a number of serious injuries that can be sustained such as injuries to the spinal cord or vertebrae. In this article we will highlight some of the most common sporting injuries by body region.


One of the most common head injuries is concussion; the chances of this are especially high in physical contact sports such as rugby, boxing, American football and hockey.  Concussions usually occur when the head is hit hard enough to shake the brain inside the skull, this then causes the person to lose consciousness for a short period of time. If you lose consciousness, it’s important to get yourself checked up immediately.

Head injuries are less about the force and more about the area of the head that’s been hit. Even the smallest of knocks can be enough to cause a head injury of concern.  Fractured skulls are another common injury in high contact sports. Fractures are a lot more serious as they can put significant pressure on the brain; this is also known as compression and can lead to brain damage.


Knee problems are very common in sports players, especially veteran ones; this is because their cartilage and other protective material are gradually wearing down. Knee surgery is very common amongst athletes who do a lot of running and jumping.  One of the most documented knee injuries is known as ‘Runner’s Knee’, it’s called this because it’s such a common injury in running. This injury is also known as Ilio Tibial Band Friction Syndrome, which affects approximately 10% of runners at some point. Another common knee injury is damage to the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL).  Most knee injuries are a result of overuse, violent twisting or heavy knocks.


Injuries sustained in the lower back are a lot more different to those sustained in the upper back. Lower back pain is one of the most common sport injuries, this is because the lower black plays such an integral role in how we twist and change the direction of our upper bodies.  Lower back pain is very common in athletes who have put on a few extra pounds around the waistline.

Because upper back muscles affect arm and shoulder movement, they are very prone to overuse. Injuries involving the vertebrae are a lot more serious and are more common in high contact sports such as rugby that can result in jarring movements of the neck and head. Because the back is such a complex body part, one injury can often affect other parts of the spine. In more severe cases, injuries to the spine can lead to paralysis.


Perhaps the most serious of all sporting injuries, people automatically think the worst when someone has a neck injury. Neck injuries are very common in sports such as rugby where there is a lot of physical contact involved. Common symptoms of neck injuries include dizziness, neck stiffness, and in serious cases, the player or athlete may lose consciousness.

When a neck injury is sustained, it should be treated as a medical emergency; both the neck and head should be stabilised immediately to prevent any further damage. After the casualty has been stabilised, the neck needs to be rested for a significant period of time. Neck injuries are one of the most common causes of professional athletes having to end their careers early. In sports such as rugby, American football and MMA, good technique must be used to reduce the chances of neck injuries.

Feet & Ankles

Fractures to bones in the foot are common in sports that take place on hard surfaces, such as basketball, marathon running, and in some cases tennis. One of the most common foot injuries is plantar fasciitis; this is the inflammation of the fibrous band at the bottom of your foot. The best way to prevent these injuries is to wear footwear that has been specifically designed for the surfaces that your sport is played on.

Ankle sprains are one of the most common injuries sustained through sport, and because they are often recurring, they keep coming back time and time again.  In most cases this injury is caused by the ankle rolling outwards, resulting in damage to the outer ankle ligaments. When an ankle injury is sustained, it’s important to get the right treatment as soon as possible and then follow a full rehabilitation program to fully recover and ensure the injury doesn’t come back.


The shoulder is one of the most adaptable muscles in the human body; the main reason for this is because an array of tendons and ligaments collaborate to create the joint. The problem with the shoulder joint however, is that it’s very shallow, making it prone to dislocation and stresses that lead to injury. One of the most common sports related shoulder injuries is a torn rotator cuff; this is a tear to one of the muscles that stabilize the shoulder joint.

A dislocated shoulder is another painful and traumatic shoulder injury whereby the humorous bone pops out of its socket, leading to serious pain and damage to a number of tendons and ligaments.  A dislocated shoulder should be popped back into place by anyone who isn’t qualified to do so. A full physiotherapy and rehabilitation program is paramount to avoid re-injuring the shoulder. Other common shoulder injuries include broken collarbones and AC joint sprain.

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This article was contributed by Health & Sports Physiotherapy


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