Sports injuries

It is estimated that every year around one million Australians are injured playing sport or undertaking recreational activities.1 There are two types of sports injury that can lead to joint problems:

  • Overuse injuries – these develop slowly, caused by repetitive trauma to tendons, bones, and joints.
  • Acute injuries – often the result of a single trauma, such as a wrist fracture, ankle sprain, shoulder dislocation, or a hamstring muscle strain. 

The most common sports injuries

Some of the most common sports injuries include:

  • Sprains – a stretch or tear of the ligament in the ankles, knee or wrist. Symptoms include pain, swelling and stiffness.
  • Knee joint injuries – injuries to the joint’s ligaments, tendons or cartilage; symptoms include pain, swelling and stiffness.
  • Achilles tendonitis – the Achilles tendon is located on the back portion of the foot just above the heel, and tendonitis often happens through overuse and inflammation. You may experience mild pain after exercise that gradually gets worse. Swelling, stiffness and more tenderness when you wake up in the morning is also common, but this can improve with light exercise.
  • Rupture or tear of Achilles tendon – your Achilles tendon can tear – partially or completely – if you overstretch it. You can sometimes hear a snap or crack when this happens. Signs of an Achilles tear include pain and swelling near your heel, and you may not be able to bend your foot downwards or walk normally.
  • Stress fractures – these are more common in the lower limbs, as they bear more of your body weight. For example, the repeated impact of jumping or running on hard surfaces eventually stresses and cracks the bone.

How are sports injuries treated?

There are many things you can do to help prevent sports injuries. Here are some of the most effective techniques2

Stretch properly

  • Warm up thoroughly, with stretches and movements that prepare your joints for exercise. 

  • Drink plenty of fluids, and if you can, avoid exercising in the hottest part of the day (between 11am and 3pm).

  • Cool down after sport, with gentle but sustained stretches.

  • Allow plenty of recovery time between sessions.

Use the right equipment

  • Wear the right footwear for your sport, like good training shoes, hiking boots, and so on.
  • Tape or strap vulnerable joints to protect them.
  • Use appropriate safety equipment for team sports, such as mouth guards, helmets and pads.

Understand your personal fitness levels

  • Try to maintain a good level of overall fitness, so your body is better prepared for sport.
  • Cross-train with other sports to maximise your overall fitness and muscle strength.
  • Know your limits – don’t overdo it.
  • Use good form and techniques as suggested by experts for your sport.
  • Have regular medical check-ups. 


1.Monash Injury Research Institute( accessed November 2012.
2. Better Health Victorian State Government Website ( accessed November 2012.


What causes knee pain?

What causes knee pain?

Usually, knee pain and loss of mobility is caused by the joint's cartilage lining wearing away. When this happens, the bones rub directly against each other, causing pain and swelling. One of the most common causes is osteoarthritis (OA), which often happens following trauma or direct injury to the knee. Without cartilage, there’s no ‘shock absorber’ between the bones in the joint, so stress builds up in the bones and causes pain and discomfort.

How does arthritis affect the knee?

Arthritis is one of the most common causes of joint disorders, and is a major cause of disability and chronic pain in Australia, affecting around 3.85 million people 1. And as the average age rises, the number of people with arthritis is also growing. In fact, leading researcher Access Economics suggests 7 million Australians will suffer some form of arthritis by 2050, based on current trends2.  

Watch this short video to learn how arthritis can affect your knee.

You don't have to live with knee pain

There are many ways to treat and help relieve pain

1, 2     Painful realities: The economic impact of arthritis in Australia 2007 (REPORT BY ACCESS ECONOMICS PTY LIMITED FOR ARTHRITIS AUSTRALIA 31 JULY 2007)

The causes of knee pain include:

Next Steps

Contact your GP or health professional to discuss your options