The aim of this lesson is to learn about common sporting injuries and prevention techniques (Equivalent to UK GCSE Physical Education)


Suffering an injury as a result of playing sport is not uncommon. There are two types of injury:

Acute Injuries

Acute injuries happen as a result of a sudden trauma to the body, for example in a football or rugby tackle, or being hit with a hockey ball. They can cause lots of damage to bones, muscles, tendons and ligaments and result in immediate pain, and usually swelling with a loss of function. They can be a result of:

  • Colliding: with another player (as in a tackle) or with an object (such as a goal post)
  • Being hit: usually by a ball (as in cricket or squash), a stick or racket (as in hockey or lacrosse) or sometimes an opponent (boxing)
  • Falling: usually either at speed (like when cycling) or from a height (rock-climbing)

Chronic Injuries

Chronic injuries are also known as overuse injuries and are a result of continuous stress on an area. Examples of overuse injuries are achilles tendonitis, shin splints or tennis elbow. These injuries tend to come on gradually over a period of time and the athlete often can't recall when it first started hurting.

To try to avoid chronic overuse injuries you should make sure you get enough rest, don't train too hard, make sure you wear the right footwear, have the right equipment for you and develop good techniques.

Soft Tissue Injuries

Soft tissue is basically anything that isn't bone! So muscles, ligaments, tendons, skin, cartilage etc. Soft tissue injuries can be either chronic or acute. They can also be open or closed:


Open injuries are when the skin is broken through cuts, grazes etc


Closed injuries happen when the skin stays intact, and the injury is underneath the skin. Here are some examples:

  • Sprains - ligament damage. Ligaments attach bones to bones and keep a joint together. Sprains can occur as a result of a violent twisting or side-ways movement to the joint (such as when you roll the ankle over and sprain it)
  • Strains - muscle damage. These are also known as pulled muscles and can vary in severity with some only causing minor damage and other tearing the whole muscle (a rupture)! These are usually caused by overstretching. The hamstrings are the most common example
  • Bruising - bleeding underneath the skin. This usually happens as a result of an impact such as being hit with a cricket ball
  • Dislocations - a bone is pulled away from the normal joint position. The most common example is the shoulder, where the humerus (arm bone) is pulled out of the socket. This can cause damage to the surrounding soft tissues and must be scanned with an MRI before being repositioned
  • Cartilage tears - cartilage within the knee is most commonly injured. This happens through violent twisting or impacts which force the knee out of line


Fractures are breaks or cracks in the bone. A broken bone is the same as a fracture! They can also be either open or closed.

  • Closed fractures are more common and mean that the skin isn't broken
  • Open fractures involve the broken end of the bone coming through the skin
  • All fractures usually cause bruising and swelling because of associated damage to surrounding blood vessels
  • They are also very painful because nerves within the bone are damaged
  • A stress fracture is a thin crack in a bone, which can be caused by overuse and continuous stress to the bone. These are common in the legs of runners and soldiers. Stress fractures are the only form of chronic bone injury, all other fractures are acute

Injury Prevention

It is possible to prevent a large number of injuries. Just follow these tips to help you stay injury free!


  • Remove any jewellery, watches or loose clothing that could get caught
  • Make sure you have the right equipment and that its all in good condition
  • Inspect the playing area to make sure its in good condition - fill in any divots and remove any debris or litter
  • Warm-up thoroughly before you start

Whilst playing

  • Make sure you know the rules of the game and stick to them
  • Use good technique to avoid overuse injuries
  • Only play with people who are of the same ability, size and strength as you
  • Wear the right footwear for the sport and the conditions
  • Wear any protective equipment where possible
  • Make sure you have a referee or umpire to ensure everyone sticks to the rules

At the end

  • Cool down after playing to help your body return to normal
  • Get plenty of rest before you play again

Common Injuries

Here are some of the most common sporting injuries:

Sprained ankle - Ligament damage to the ankle, usually from rolling or 'going over' on it
Plantar fasciitis - Pain in the heel and arch of the foot, common in runners
Tennis elbow - Common in tennis players but also any sport using the wrist
Shoulder dislocation - Where the humerus (upper arm bone) pops out of the socket
Shin splints - Pain at the front, inside of the lower leg, common in runners