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Sporty guySports Medicine

What is Sports Medicine?

Sports medicine is a branch of medicine that deals with physical fitness, treatment and prevention of injuries related to sports and exercise. Sports medicine not only benefits experienced athletes, but also amateur athletes of all ages. Proper exercise techniques as well as an understanding of the anatomy and physiology of the human body are a necessity in preventing and treating injuries.

What is Physical Fitness?

Physical fitness is the result of regular exercise. People who are physically fit can perform their daily tasks with energy and vigor because of their participation in a variety of physical activities. There are four components of physical fitness:

  • Aerobic fitness is the ability of the heart and lungs to perform at rest and during exercise.
  • Muscular strength and endurance are defined as the amount of force an individual can generate at one time, or can generate repeatedly for an extended period of time.
  • Flexibility is the body’s ability to extend and flex major joints.
  • Body composition is the body’s proportion of fat and muscle mass.

Each of these components contributes to one’s level of physical fitness. Certain types of exercise have a greater impact on a specific part of the body, while others give a broader range of benefits. In general, a regular and balanced exercise routine will benefit all four areas of fitness.


Quick Fix for Sports Injuries

If you DO experience a minor injury – strain, sprain, pull or spasms – while exercising, follow these simple steps:

  • Rest
  • Ice
  • Compression
  • Elevation

Most minor injuries can be treated at home with R-I-C-E:

  • Rest is essential for an injury When pain starts, stop and rest. Sometimes a bandage or sling can hold the muscle in place so that it can rest.
  • Ice or a cold compress applied to soft tissue injuries helps reduce internal bleeding and swelling. Apply an ice pack or cold compress for up to two hours (on for 15 minutes, off for 15 minutes).
  • Compression or pressure applied to the injured area helps restrict swelling. Be careful not to wrap the bandage too tightly. Apply compression and ice packs together.
  • Elevate the injured limb above heart level to prevent pooling of blood and throbbing pain.

If your symptoms don't improve with RICE therapy in two days, or if you suspect an injury that the RICE therapy can't treat appropriately, call your health care provider.

The most common sports injuries are:

  1. Ankle sprain
  2. Groin pull
  3. Hamstring strain
  4. Shin splints
  5. Knee injury: ACL tear
  6. Knee injury: Patellofemoral syndrome is an injury resulting from the repetitive movement of the kneecap against the thigh bone
  7. Tennis elbow (epicondylitis)


Preventing Injury

Choose a sport that is appropriate for your age and ability level. For example, running can be difficult and even dangerous in very hot climates for people with damaged joints, or for those who are not physically fit.

Use proper technique and safety gear. Any exercise can be unsafe if not executed with proper form.

Make warming up and cooling down part of the exercise. Ten minutes before and after exercising should be devoted to gentle stretching of the muscles that are involved in the workout. Doing this can prevent injuries during exercise.

Wear clothing that is appropriate to the exercise. Loose, baggy clothing can be burdensome during running and clothes that are too tight can make walking difficult.

Wear shoes that fit well and have good cushioning and support to prevent injuring the feet, ankles, knees, and hips.


References and Resources

National Library of Medicine. (2010). Sports Injuries. Retrieved on June 29, 2012 from

American College of Sports Medicine

Intelihealth: Injuries (select Fitness, then Injuries, Accidents and Annoyances)