American Osteopathic Association

Advancing the distinctive philosophy and practice of osteopathic medicine

Listen to Your Body to Prevent Sports Injuries

Injured soccer playerAfter working all week, you might be inclined to make up for lost time by squeezing in all your workouts during your days off. However, that mentality could come at a price: sports injuries that most commonly occur during athletic sports or exercise.

"The largest contributing factor to adult sports injuries is that adults may not be as agile and resilient as they were when they were younger," explains David Carfagno, DO, an osteopathic internist and sports medicine physician from Scottsdale, Arizona. "Injuries can also occur when a person moves from an inactive to a more active lifestyle too quickly."

Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine, or DOs, look beyond your symptoms to understand how lifestyle and environmental factors affect your wellbeing. They listen and partner with their patients to help prevent injury and encourage the body’s natural tendency toward self-healing.

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Common Sports Injuries

The most common types of sports injuries include:

  • Sprains – A stretch or tear of a ligament, the band that connects one bone to another.

  • Strains – A twist, pull or tear of a muscle or tendon, sometimes caused by overstretching.

  • Dislocated joints – When two bones that come together to form a joint are separated.

  • Fractured bones – Either acute (when there is a clean break in the bone) or stress (a small crack in the bone caused by repeated impact, typically in the legs and feet).

  • Tears of the ligaments – Tears often occur to the ligaments that hold the knee joint together.

  • Tears of the tendons – Tendons support joints and allow them to move. Achilles tendon injuries, affecting the tendon that connects the calf muscle to the back of the heel, are the most common and are extremely painful.

While these types of injuries are sometimes due to accidents, they can also be the result of improper equipment, poor training practices, lack of conditioning, or insufficient warm-up and stretching.

Warding Off Sports Injury

To prevent injuries, Dr. Carfagno recommends that adult athletes take the following precautions:

  • Accept your body's limits. You may not be able to perform at the same level you did when you were a teenager. Modify activities as necessary.

  • Instead of packing a week's worth of activity into your days off, try to maintain a moderate level of activity throughout the week.

  • Give your body time to adapt. Don’t rush into a high-intensity activity; rather, increase your exercise level gradually.

  • Mix it up. Cross-training, which involves cardiovascular, strength training, and flexibility exercises, reduces injury while promoting total body fitness.


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