Most Common Sports Injuries and How to Avoid Them

The more you move, the greater your risk for injury. That doesn’t mean you should move less, however, it simply means you should take steps to stay safe.

At Coastal Orthoour vast team of sports medicine specialists helps pro athletes and weekend warriors alike recover from sports injuries of all kinds using the latest techniques and most advanced technology. But we’d much rather help you avoid sports injuries altogether. Here’s how you can do that.

Know your risk for sports injuries

Avoiding sports injuries starts with knowing when, where, and why you’re in danger. Some sports are riskier than others. That doesn’t mean you should switch sports, but it does mean you should take extra precautions when you participate in them. 

It’s no surprise that the most violent sports are the ones that send the highest number of athletes to the emergency room. Boxing and mixed martial arts begin with the goal of causing injury to the opponent, so you can bet someone might get hurt by the end of the match. 

But direct punching and kicking aren’t the only ways to get injured playing sports — flying equipment, head-to-head collisions, bodies hitting the ground, blindside tackles, cleats sliding into second, and the standard plant-and-pivot move can all lead to injury.

According to the National Safety Council, the sports and activities with the highest injury rates for 2020 were:

  • Bicycling injuries: 425,910
  • General exercise/working out injuries: 377,939 
  • Motorized recreational vehicle injuries: 229,974 
  • Skateboard and scooter injuries: 217,646 
  • Basketball injuries: 214,847 
  • Swimming injuries: 129,708
  • Football injuries: 122,181
  • Playground equipment injuries: 120,829
  • Trampoline injuries: 106,358

Soccer and baseball weigh in at more than 81,000 and 70,000 injuries, respectively. Of course, you can suffer an injury simply by taking a stroll in your neighborhood, too, but these activities carry the highest risks. 

The most common sports injuries

Sports take a toll on your body, and if you play regularly, you can expect to feel some level of pain and discomfort eventually. There’s a common question athletes ask themselves when they experience pain: “Am I hurt, or am I hurting?” The answer can help you decide what to do next: rest and recover, or seek medical attention.

Most athletic injuries fall into one of two categories: Acute (meaning they occur suddenly), or chronic (meaning they persist over time). Either way, the most common sports injuries are:

We treat all these types of injuries at Coastal Ortho, but there’s a lot you can do to avoid falling victim to these potentially season-ending conditions. 

How to avoid sports injuries

Our team can help you develop a sport-specific injury prevention plan, but in general, follow these practical tips no matter which sport you play.


Gently stretching the muscles and ligaments you use most on the field, court, or course helps prep them for the strenuous activity ahead. Warm, limber muscles don’t strain as easily as cold, tight muscles.


As an athlete, your goal is always to get stronger, but focusing on strengthening the specific structures that support vulnerable joints can protect you from sprains as well as torn cartilage and tendons.

Wear the right gear

From head to toe, you need to wear the required gear for your sport, which may include a helmet, padding, mouthguard, shin guards, eyewear, shoes, or all the above. 


If you have a full-time job that keeps you at a desk all day but you love to play basketball on the weekends, you’re much more vulnerable to injury than someone who spends time on the court every day. Being a so-called “weekend warrior” elevates your risk of injury in two ways. 

One, consistent practice conditions your muscles to make a layup, your knees to plant and pivot, and your heart to endure constant running.

Two, practicing your sport most days of the week helps you perfect your moves and streamline your mechanics. Many injuries occur because a play wasn’t executed properly and the body was out of alignment.


Whether you lift weights, chase a ball downfield, run a marathon, or slalom down a snowbank, you demand a lot from your body, and it needs time to repair and recharge before you ask it to perform again. Mental and physical fatigue combined with overworked body parts can set you up for injury.


If you’re coming off an injury, make sure you heal completely before getting back in the game. Partially healed injuries almost guarantee a repeat injury.

To learn more about sports injury prevention and how the team at Coastal Ortho can treat any sports injury you sustain, call or click to schedule an appointment with one of our sports medicine experts today.