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Sports Safety

Playing safe – that is the most important rule to follow to avoid injury. Sports injuries typically occur while you are participating in organized sports, competitions or organized fitness activities. They can be caused by a variety of reasons:

  • Improper training
  • Lack of safety equipment
  • Failure to observe inclement weather guidelines
  • Improperly maintained facilities

Everyone should insist that safety comes first. All unsportsmanlike conduct has to be discouraged. Protective equipment should fit properly, be well maintained and worn consistently and correctly.

It is not smart to play injured. Discourage others from pressuring injured athletes to play. Don’t let athletes persuade you that they’re “just fine” after sustaining a bump, blow or jolt to the head. Remind your athlete that it is better to miss one game than the whole season.

There are two general types of injuries – acute traumatic injury and overuse or chronic injury.

Acute traumatic injuries usually involve a single blow, like getting a cross-body block in football or being struck by a baseball. These injuries include:

  • Fracture – a crack, break or shattering of a bone
  • Contusion or bruise – swelling and bleeding in muscles and other body tissues
  • Strain – stretch or tear or a ligament
  • Abrasion – scrape
  • Laceration – a cut in the skin
  • Concussion – violent jarring or shock to the head

Overuse or chronic injuries are those that happen over a period of time. They are usually the result of repetitive training such as running, throwing or serving a tennis ball. These injuries include:

  • Stress fractures – tiny cracks in the bone’s surface
  • Tendinitis – inflammation of the tendon
  • Epiphysitis or apophysitis – growth plate overload injuries

You can get a sports injury anywhere on your body. If the pain progressively increases with activity and causes swelling, limping, or loss of range of motion, you need to see a doctor as soon as possible.

Recognize the different types of pain – soreness is temporary but chronic pain continues over a greater length of time. It is not always necessary to see a doctor if your shoulder is sore, but you should schedule an appointment if the pain is worsening or persists for a week or more.

The most important thing to do when you suspect you are injured is to stop doing whatever sport has caused the injury and go see a doctor.


There are an estimated 300,000 sports-and recreation-related head injuries of mild to moderate severity each year in the US. Most of these can be classified as concussions.

Athletes who suffer one concussion are at an increased risk for another. A repeat concussion that occurs before the brain recovers – hours, days, or weeks – can result in brain swelling, permanent brain damage and even death. This condition is known as second impact syndrome. Always wear helmets for contact sports and activities on wheels and ice.

Scott & White Healthcare offers a CIC-certified concussion diagnostic and treatment program. Learn more about our ImPACT Concussion Testing.

Neck Injuries

Neck injuries often occur during gymnastics, climbing, diving, judo, horseback riding and contact sports. Most neck injuries are caused by impact to the head or neck sustained during a fall or a blow. Your neck can be injured a little at a time.

Never try to move someone who may have a neck injury. A mishandled neck fracture could lead to permanent paralysis or even death.

Weather-Related Injuries

Weather-related injuries occur most often from lightning storms and extreme heat. Ensure that:

Athletes and spectators go to a safe area if lightning is a possibility.

Adequate methods for rehydration are available and utilized at all times.

Additional Resources