Top Ten Causes of Sport Injuries

Woman with knee brace

A multitude of situations can result in a sports-related injury. Being aware of the risk factors goes a long way in preventing them. Strengthening your muscles, getting proper rest and working at the proper pace are essential to staying healthy. A look at the causes of the most common sports injuries paints a clear picture of the main culprits behind them.


Overuse or repetitive movements may be the number-one cause of sports injuries. Runners, swimmers and tennis players are particularly susceptible to overuse injuries, including tennis elbow, tendinitis, shin splints and shoulder impingement.

Stops and Twists

Sports that incorporate quick stopping and twisting motions -- including basketball, gymnastics and soccer -- see a high number of knee and ankle injuries. Ankle sprains occur when an athlete rolls his foot and stretches the surrounding ligaments. The stabilizing muscles and cushioning cartilage around your knee, shoulder and other joints are prone to tearing from an uncontrolled twist or a sudden stop.


Any athlete can fall in the midst of an activity. In addition to the obvious breaks that can occur from a fall, wrist sprains are common. Your natural instinct when falling is to put your hands down to break your fall. Your wrists bear your weight, which can easily stretch or tear a ligament.

Improper Equipment

If you use a weight or a racquet too heavy for you, lower back or arm pain may follow. Ill-fitting helmets and shoes may also cause injuries.A runner may experience an injury if he wears shoes that do no provide enough support. Plantar fasciitis, the inflammation of your arch's shock absorber, is common when shoes do not fit properly or provide proper support.

New or Increased Activity

Starting a new activity or increasing your level of activity too quickly can also result in plantar fasciitis or lower back pain. If you have begun a new exercise or sport, previously unused muscles may be employed or you may increase the work of other muscles. A cramp is a common result of this.


Tired muscles are a common cause of muscle pulls. Resting between activity is essential to preventing muscle pulls.

Poor Warmup

Your elementary school gym teacher probably told you how important it is to stretch before any athletic endeavor, and he was right. Muscle cramping and pulls are often the result of jumping into an activity without properly easing the muscles into it. Warming up delivers blood and oxygen to the various muscles, allowing them to work more efficiently.


Hard impacts are another culprit behind injuries such as shin splints and plantar fasciitis. Hard surfaces cause a more jarring impact on an athlete's feet, legs, hips and back.

Unilateral Movements

Lower-back pain plagues some golfers and tennis players, among others. Because these activities require certain movements by only one side of the body, you are working muscles on one side without doing equal work on the other. This can result in weaker muscles on the less active side, the most common cause of lower back pain.

Technique or Posture

Neck pain, including spasms and pulls, is often the result of something as simple as moving your head awkwardly to see a ball or an opponent. Cyclists may experience neck pain after riding with racing handlebars. The position you must take to use the handlebars and still see where you're going tightens the neck muscles, causing a spasm.