Why one injury can lead to more injuries: experts   

It’s inevitable that every athlete will endure some level of injury during their athletic career. 

Anything from a minor ankle sprain to possibly something more severe and long lasting. It is common that an injury, of any intensity, can lead to other injuries especially if it’s not healed properly. 

Not allowing your injury to fully recover is the No. 1 cause of delaying your return to play. For example, if you have a sprained ankle, now you are overcompensating other areas of the body, which keeps you from performing at a high level.

The reason for this delay is that your ankle has lost its mobility, and you are putting more weight and strain on your other leg. In order for your body to adjust and make up for the lost support from the ankle, your opposite hip flexor takes on much more strain than what is natural to those muscles, which leads to additional injuries.

Additionally, with less mobility in the ankle, when you jump and land, you have decreased control over your body. The landing then has much more force than with a healthy ankle. As a result, your knees and hips will take on extra strain and force, causing those areas to be more prone to injury than normal.  

The same results are found in strength training using weights. In fact, Mayo Clinic states that “if you use poor form as you do a set of strength training exercises, swing a golf club or throw a baseball, for example, you may overload certain muscles and cause an overuse injury.”

Relating to the example of a sprained ankle, if you compensate your priorly correct form for the ability of doing the exercise, then you are placing unnecessary, additional stress on other muscle groups to make up for your injury. As you recover from these injuries, it is crucial that you make sure you are using the proper form and technique while exercising to ensure that the muscle is healed in order to mitigate the risk of other damage to the body.

Be sure to take your recovery seriously and slowly because taking the time to heal properly in recovery decreases the chance of bigger issues in the future. 

If you are an athlete that requires the ability to throw, you are at risk for shoulder injuries, which can be serious if not treated properly. The shoulder is a ball and socket joint that is made up of the humerus bone (upper arm bone), the scapula (shoulder blade), and the clavicle (collar bone).

All of these bones are attached to all sorts of different muscles that span to other areas of the body like your elbow. If you, as an athlete, injure your shoulder and continue to practice your sport, your body’s natural response is to look for other sources of power, like the elbow, for strength and stability.

Consequently, overcompensating in the shoulder can lead to potential elbow injury which sets your recovery back even further.

Furthermore, throwing is a full body motion. So, if your legs are fatigued when throwing a ball, you are going to use upper body muscles to cancel out the lost power from your lower body.

According to Indiana University Health, the mechanics of throwing a ball require that the force begins in the legs because this is where the momentum is built.”

Subsequently, if you lose the power from your legs, your body must account for the lost power by overly engaging the core and arm muscles. 

As an athlete, it is imperative that injury recovery and prevention is taken seriously and done correctly. If not completed properly, you as an athlete are at risk for potentially more significant injuries that will increase your overall recovery time much more than what was foreseen originally.

Injuries are inevitable, but we as athletes have the power to determine the outcome of our situations. And, if we take time to address our injuries correctly and accordingly, it will ensure that we are being proactive in preventing additional injuries down the line. 

Mary Driscoll’s health and wellness column publishes on Thursdays. You can find her column on FAN the first and third Thursdays in January 2023.

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