Increasingly, public health experts tell us that physical inactivity is dangerous, and that being routine will shorten our lifespan. But sports and outdoors pursuits are dangerous as well, carrying the risk of injury that could -- ironically -- force a return to that sedentary lifestyle. What's a health-conscious person to do?
Well, a good place to start is having a basic knowledge of sports medicine. More accurately called "sports and exercise medicine," this is the subspecialty that deals with the injuries of professional and amateur athletes, fitness enthusiasts, outdoorsmen and women, and the like. While sports-medicine doctors tend to focus on the diagnosis and treatment of existing injuries, the field has a lot to say about the prevention of harm overall.
If you're interested in sports medicine, we've got a quiz that'll test your knowledge of it -- and, hopefully, teach you a thing or two. Here, you'll learn about sprain and strains, joints and ligaments, concussions and contusions. You'll be tested on the different kinds of bones and joints, as well as what types of injuries befall which kind of athletes.
Are you ready? Good luck! Here, we'd also like to thank WebMD, whose article on the seven most common kinds of sports injuries was very helpful, (among other sources), and is recommended to anyone who wants to stay safe on the field or at the gym.
Sports medicine might more accurately be called "sports and fitness medicine." You don't have to compete, or be part of a team, to need it.
This is a common mistake that new athletes or exercisers make. Stretching "cold" muscles can lead to injuries. Instead, warm up with light introductory exercise, increasing in intensity, then stretch your "warm" muscles afterward.
People often use these terms interchangeably, but they're not the same. Sprains are caused by a twisting movement of the ankle, it's true. But often, the athlete can bounce back quickly from a "twisted" ankle. A sprain, though, means the ligament or tendon has been stretched beyond its capacity, and will take time to heal.
Not surprisingly, all of these are important. Helmets aren't worn in all sports, but can prevent major injuries in the ones that require them. Warming up before exercise, and stretching afterward, can prevent both minor and sometimes major injuries.
Strains are the "unsung" (so to speak) villains of sports medicine. That is, they don't happen all at once, dramatically, like sprains or fractures do. But they can be really disabling, and take a long time to heal.
Concussion is characterized as a relatively mild injury to the head. However, sports-medicine experts are learning about the life-changing effects of repeated concussions -- which can include chronic brain damage.
Hand injuries tend to occur in sports where grip is important. Golfers, tennis players, and baseball pitchers all get them.
Weekend warriors ensure that sports-medicine doctors and physical therapists will always have patients. Ignoring fitness all week, then going all out on the basketball or tennis court, is a recipe for injury.
These are the people who are likely to stay out of the physical therapist's office and the MRI tube. They really should have their own term honoring their respect for their bodies!
Cartilage is the material which, in babies, turns into bone. However, some is retained into adulthood, most notably the cartilage of the nose. Ever wonder why it hurts so much more when something hits you on the nose than the cheekbone? That's why.
"RICE" is a treatment plan for minor muscle/joint injuries. It stands for "Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation." (So yes, "Ice" is a component of "RICE," funny as that might seem).
The term "hamstring" refers to both the muscle in the back of the upper leg, and to a tendon behind the knee. Both are fairly easily injured.
That large, strong muscle in the front of the upper leg is called your "quadricep" (though you might casually call it your "thigh.") Often, it's much stronger than the hamstring behind it, and if an athlete doesn't make an effort to train the hamstring and bring it up to par, injury is likely to result.
This one probably didn't surprise you. If "rehab" is often done after surgery, then "prehab" just makes sense.
Shin splints are episodes of pain that tend to occur after a runner has done long workouts on paved roads. Occasionally, they can be actual small fractures in the bone, but this is rare.
The meniscus is a cartilage structure in the knee. Because it no longer has its own blood supply after childhood and adolescence, healing can be very difficult once it's injured.
You'll see the word "contusion" on medical reports. Really, it just means bruise -- the inflammation and breakage of small blood vessels that results from an impact.
We know: "all of the above" is often the right answer -- but not here. "Cricoid" is the descriptive term for cartilage that surrounds the voice box in your neck.
The ball-within-its-socket structure allows for rotational movement. Think of a pitcher throwing a ball, or the circular raised-leg motions seen in tai chi.
This has given rise to dozens of jokes of a Borscht Belt nature: "You've broken a bone in your arm, Mr. Stein. It's your humerus." "I don't think it's funny at all, Doc!" (Rimshot).
This joint has this name because of the simple swing-out, swing-in action they allow. Doors and certain windows do the same because of their hinges.
The femur is commonly called the thigh bone. It is well insulated and supported by the quadricep and hamstring muscles, and thus difficult to break.
Ankles and wrists are by far the common areas for sprains. But this can happen in any joint, so we suppose the hip joint, near the pelvis, qualifies.
The patella is the flat bone that covers and protect the joint of the knee. It's prone to what's called "patellofemoral pain," which happens when the knee is overworked, and the bone rubs against the femur too much. Rest is the usual fix.
The tibia was named for a kind of flute. So it's not surprising that it's one of the body's longest bones.
The fibula is behind/beside the tibia. It is thinner than the shinbone, but is also more protected, in its slightly rearward position, from injury.
Tommy John surgery was named for Thomas John, a successful left-handed pitcher in the MLB. It involves a graft of tendon tissue to the pitching arm, either from elsewhere in the patient's body (autograft) or from a cadaver. It is so common now that you'll often hear announcers talking about a pitcher leaving for, or returning from, Tommy John surgery.
"ACL" stands for "Anterior Cruciate Ligament." Tears in this ligament, found in the knee, are one of the most common sports injuries.
You didn't need to know much about medicine to know this, really. Just terminology: "posterior" is the opposite of "anterior," just like "lateral" is to "medial."
To understand this, visualize basketball, in which players make lightning-quick shifts in direction. This is hard on the knees in general, and the ACL in particular.
The "triad" names come from the fact that two ligaments and the meniscus are involved. As the adjective "blown" suggests, this is a truly disabling injury without surgery and/or rehab.
A blood glucose challenge is a test for pre-diabetes or diabetes -- which athletes are less likely than the general population to have, because exercise acts as "invisible insulin," as some doctors say. And if an athlete or regular exerciser *did* have reason to suspect diabetes, they'd be unlikely to see a sports medicine doctor about it.
Lateral motion in sports that use the full body, like football and hockey, can cause groin pull. Fun fact: Actor Alfonso Ribeiro gave himself a groin pull while on "Dancing With the Stars," when he performed his patented dance, "the Carlton," from his days on "Fresh Prince of Bel-Air." Totally worth it, though: He won the mirrorball trophy.
"Concussion" is about a doctor (Smith) who uncovers mounting and disturbing evidence about the long-term results of repeated concussion in NFL play. The film highlighted an issue that the league itself was slowly, reluctantly beginning to grapple with.
Yes, we're being didactic here ... but we think you'll agree! "Pain is weakness leaving the body" looks great on a T-shirt, but it ignores the fact that pain is an important warning signal that shouldn't be ignored. Maybe we can all agree to start saying, "Soreness is weakness leaving the body" instead.