The U.S. is a nation of elite athletes. It is no wonder that the country is home to some of the best orthopedic specialists in the world. Sporting injuries are common due to high-speed collisions, trips and falls. However, poor form and wear-and-tear from years of athletic competition can also have an impact on the bones, joints, ligaments, tendons and muscles.
If you have a child who is just getting into sports, or you are a competitor in your own right, understanding how each type of discipline impacts the joints is important. Many athletes have seen their career cut short due to injuries, so protecting bone health is an essential aspect of self-care.
There are a large number of sports that involve running, either as the main aspect of the discipline or a contributing skill. Running sports mostly impact the lower extremities, which includes the feet, ankles, knees and hips. Due to the speed and techniques used in running sports, these joints absorb considerable forces as well as supporting the weight of the upper body.
Wear-and-tear in the joints used in running is largely unavoidable, which is why competitive runners tend to retire early relative to non-athletes. Injuries are also a contributing factor to deterioration in sporting ability. Some injuries that are common in runners include ankle sprains, knee dislocations and ligament tears.
Football includes a significant amount of running but also involves kicking, tackling and the use of the hands. As such, football is a sport that impacts most – if not all – of the joints. Competitors can suffer the same injuries associated with running but are also at risk of damaging joints or other skeletal structures in the upper and lower body. Although football players wear protective gear while in competition, fractures and breaks are not uncommon.
One particular skill that sets football players apart from those who run in other disciplines is the need to twist and turn. These actions put a significant amount of stress on the ankles, knees and hips. Over time, football players are therefore more likely to suffer injuries to leg joints.
Martial arts are combat sports that typically involve all the joints, although not always in the same ways. For instance, Brazilian jiu-jitsu and wrestling are focused on manipulation of the limbs, whereas disciplines such as karate and taekwondo involve punching and kicking. Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) incorporates elements from several martial arts, which means all the limbs are involved during competition in various ways.
The stresses put on the limbs during martial arts competition are as varied as the disciplines themselves. There are forces being absorbed from moving around the ring or octagon that impact the lower joints. However, competitors can also suffer broken bones resulting from kicks or submission techniques.
Baseball involves running, sliding, swinging a bat or pitching a ball. These actions all impact the joints involved in various ways. Baseball players will experience different bone health issues depending on the position they most play. A pitcher is more likely to suffer from wrist, elbow or shoulder injuries, as those are the joints absorbing the most stress in that position. The batter or hitter is in a similar position, but is also at more risk from suffering injuries associated with running. Catching is also an important aspect of baseball, which involves jumping and absorbing the forces of a ball travelling at high speed. These activities affect the wrists, ankles and knees.
If you play a sport and are concerned about an injury that is not healing as expected, it’s time to book a consultation with DOCS Health in Los Angeles. We specialize in creating a superior experience in bone and joint health through advanced orthopedic care.