What are the common sports injuries?

Australians are renowned for their love of sports and outdoor activities. From cricket pitches to rugby fields and netball courts to cycling paths, we embrace an active lifestyle that keeps us healthy and connected.

While prevention is key, injuries are an inevitable part of participating in sports. Whether you’re a seasoned athlete or a weekend warrior, understanding the most common sports injuries can help you recognise the signs early and get the right treatment to get back in the game faster.

This blog post from Capstone Medical Centre will provide practical knowledge about the most frequently encountered sports injuries, focusing on lower and upper-body concerns. We’ll check each injury’s causes, symptoms, and prevention tips, equipping you with the necessary information to stay active and minimise your risk, ensuring you’re always prepared.

Common Sports Injuries by Category 

Lower Body Injuries

According to a report by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) on hospitalised sports injuries in 2020-2, lower body injuries are among the most common complaints among Australian athletes. Here, we’ll explore some frequently encountered issues:

Ankle Sprain:

  • Symptoms: Pain, swelling, bruising, difficulty putting weight on the ankle.
  • Causes: Rolling your ankle inward or outward, sudden changes in direction.
  • Treatment Options: Rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE protocol) in the initial stages. Depending on the severity, a doctor may recommend immobilisation with a brace or cast, physical therapy, or surgery for severe sprains.

Knee Injuries:

  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) Tears:
    • Symptoms: Severe pain, swelling, instability in the knee, inability to bear weight.
    • Causes: Sudden changes in direction, incorrect landing from a jump, contact sports.
    • Treatment Options: Treatment for ACL tears often involves surgery to reconstruct the ligament, followed by extensive physical therapy to regain strength and mobility.
  • Meniscus Tears:
    • Symptoms: Pain with specific knee movements, clicking or popping sensation, swelling.
    • Causes: Twisting the knee while bearing weight, common in sports like football and basketball.
    • Treatment Options: Treatment for meniscus tears can range from conservative measures like physical therapy and bracing to surgery, depending on the severity of the tear.
  • Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome (Runner’s Knee):
    • Symptoms: Pain around the kneecap, especially during running or downhill walking activities.
    • Causes: Repetitive stress on the kneecap, muscle weakness, improper training techniques.
    • Treatment Options: Treatment for runner’s knee often focuses on strengthening the muscles around the knee joint, improving flexibility, and modifying training techniques to reduce stress.

Other Lower Body Injuries

  • Shin Splints: Pain along the shinbone caused by repetitive stress.
  • Calf Strains: Overstretched or torn calf muscle due to sudden exertion.
  • Achilles Tendonitis: Inflammation of the Achilles tendon due to overuse.

Upper Body Injuries

The demands of various sports can put stress on the upper body, leading to injuries. Here’s a look at some common issues:

Rotator Cuff Injuries:

The rotator cuff is a group of muscles and tendons stabilising the shoulder joint. Injuries to it can range from mild tendinitis to complete tears.

  • Symptoms: Pain, weakness, difficulty raising the arm overhead.
  • Causes in Sports: Throwing motions (cricket, baseball), overhead activities (swimming, weightlifting).
  • Types of Injuries:
    • Tendinitis: Inflammation of the rotator cuff tendons.
    • Bursitis: Inflammation of the bursa, a fluid-filled sac near the shoulder joint.
    • Tears: Partial or complete tears in the tendons or muscles.

Shoulder Impingement:

Shoulder impingement occurs when tissues in the shoulder joint become compressed, often due to rotator cuff problems.

  • Symptoms: Pain, weakness, catching or grinding sensation in the shoulder.
  • Relationship to Rotator Cuff Issues: Shoulder impingement can be a cause or consequence of rotator cuff injuries.

Elbow Tendinitis:

Elbow tendinitis refers to inflammation of the tendons around the elbow joint. Two common types are:

  • Tennis Elbow: Pain outside the elbow, common in racquet sports.
  • Golfer’s Elbow: Pain on the inside of the elbow, prevalent in golf and other gripping activities.
  • Symptoms: Pain, tenderness, and weakness in the affected area.
  • Causes: Repetitive motions, improper technique, overuse.

Other Upper Body Injuries

  • Wrist Sprains: Overstretched or torn ligaments in the wrist.
  • Finger Fractures: Broken bones in the fingers due to falls or impacts.

Preventing Common Sports Injuries

While injuries can happen even with the best precautions, taking steps to prevent them can significantly reduce your risk. There are some key strategies:

  • Warm-up and Cool-down: A proper warm-up preps your muscles for activity by increasing blood flow and flexibility. Aim for 5-10 minutes of light cardio and dynamic stretches. Similarly, a cool-down after exercise helps your body return to rest and reduces muscle soreness.
  • Stretching: Regular static stretching improves flexibility, which can help prevent muscle strains and tears. Aim for 10-15 seconds per stretch, holding each position several times.
  • Use Appropriate Equipment: Wearing properly fitted, sport-specific equipment can significantly reduce your risk of injury. This includes footwear with good shock absorption and support, helmets, padding, and any other gear recommended for your chosen sport.

Treatment Options for Sports Injuries

If you experience a sports injury, seeking professional medical advice in a sports injury clinic is crucial for proper diagnosis and treatment. A doctor can assess the severity of your injury, recommend the most effective course of action, and help you get back to your sport safely.

Treatment options will vary depending on the specific injury. However, some common methods include:

  • RICE protocol: Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation are the cornerstones of initial injury management. This helps reduce pain, swelling, and inflammation.
  • Medication: Over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen can help manage pain and inflammation. In some cases, your doctor may prescribe stronger medications.
  • Physical therapy: Physical therapy programs can help restore strength, flexibility, and range of motion, promoting healing and preventing future injuries.
  • Immobilisation: Depending on the injury, a doctor may recommend a splint, cast, or brace to immobilise the affected area and promote healing.
  • Surgery: In some cases, surgery may be necessary to repair severe ligament tears, fractures, or other complex injuries.

It’s important to follow your doctor’s instructions carefully to ensure a full recovery and minimise the risk of complications.

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At Capstone Medical Centre, we understand the importance of getting you back in the game. Our team of experienced doctors are dedicated to providing comprehensive care for all your sports injury needs. 

We offer advanced treatment options, from physiotherapy to pain management, when necessary. Don’t let an injury sideline you. Contact Capstone Medical Centre today for a consultation and get back to peak performance!


  • niams.nih.gov/health-topics/sports-injuries
  • my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/22093-sports-injuries
  • unitypoint.org/news-and-articles/top-10-most-common-sports-injuries