Participation figures for sports may be down, but millions of us still love to get out there and play. Loads of us feel right at home on the football field, tennis court or rugby pitch. That sense of comfort can lead to us feeling a little too relaxed. That’s when injuries can occur.

Not taking the proper precautions can cause a great deal of damage to even the most experienced player. In the worst cases, it can even be fatal - although that’s rare. There are several common sports injuries - here are just four. Don’t worry - we’ll also tell you how to avoid them.

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Meniscal tears

It’s easy to tear your meniscus. It often happens to people who play sport a lot. It’s most common for the over-forties, as their knees are already weaker than they should be. They can be painful in the extreme. A knee problem can make everyday living a chore as walking is harder than usual. You can treat a torn meniscus without surgery. Convenient and easy therapies exist that reduce knee pain and improve knee function.

Shin splints

If you’re not used to regular exercise, you shouldn’t just dive straight into sporting activity. If you do, you run the risk of shin splints. That’s a colloquial term for nasty pain that arises in the shins during exercise. If you don’t stretch in the right way, you might end up with this type of pain. The best way to stop shin splints is to stretch before exercise. You should also make sure that you don’t increase the pace of your exercise before you’re ready. Wearing the right shoes and avoiding jumping on hard ground can also help.

Pulled muscle

We’ve all pulled a muscle. It’s easy to do and the effects last for days. They make everyday living just a little bit more difficult, which is annoying and frustrating. Pulling a muscle occurs when you overextend your muscles, and it can occur in any part of the body. Again, the best therapy is stretching. Your muscles are better prepared for exercise if you stretch them beforehand. You should also try not to exercise if you’re feeling tired. When you’re in that state, you’ve got a higher chance of pulling a muscle.

Sprained ankle

A sprained ankle can restrict your walking and general movement. They’re common in almost all sports. If you need to run fast or turn on a sixpence, you’ll be prone to an ankle sprain. A sprained ankle can cause great damage to anyone, even professional athletes. To avoid a heavy sprain, try wearing an ankle brace when playing sports. You can also try to strengthen your ankles through exercise. If you do suffer a sprain, gentle exercise can reduce your time on the sidelines.

Sports injuries are a fact of life for anyone who likes getting out there and playing. You can protect yourself against almost all forms of injury, but accidents do happen. Take the right precautions. You’ll avoid long-term damage and continue having fun with your favourite sport.

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