Have you ever been forced to put a halt on your training or you’ve had to drop out of a competition because of an injury? If you’ve experienced it, you know how hard it can be not only physically but mentally too.

As an athlete the last thing you want is to cause injury to your body. Unfortunately, these things can happen even to the most conditioned sportsmen and women but the good news is that there are actions you can take to help prevent injury.

Here are the 8 most common sport injuries and how you can avoid them:

8. Hip flexor strain

The hip flexors are muscles found on the upper-front side of your thigh and are used to lift your knee towards your body as well as assisting with moving your leg toward and away from the other leg. Hip flexors can be weak in individuals who sit a great deal at work or can become weak and stiff in individuals who have poor sitting posture.

Sports injuries to this muscle group can be caused by sprinting, running inclines and activities with quick turns and sudden starts. Therefore to avoid injury it is important to strengthen the hip-flexors and practice a good flexibility regimen that includes eccentric (muscle-lengthening) and concentric (muscle-shortening) exercises.

7. ACL tear or strain

The ACL, anterior cruciate ligament, is one of the major stabilising ligaments of the knee. Most ACL tears do not occur from contact with another player but can instead happen with change of direction combined with sudden stopping, landing awkwardly from a jump, or pivoting with the knee almost fully extended. Ligaments on the inside of the knee are often torn with the ACL injury, making it a devastating event!

While it can be difficult to to determine how best to modify your movements to avoid ACL tears or strains, trainers, therapists and specialists can help to identify and target weak muscles. By identifying these weak muscles, you can strengthen the relevant muscles to avoid injury. Furthermore, certain types of training such as jump routines and learning to pivot correctly can help in the prevention of ACL injuries

6. Concussion

A concussion is an injury to the brain that is usually caused following a blow to the head where the brain is jarred or shaken. Concussions are most common in sports like soccer, hockey and boxing.

The easiest way to avoid concussion is to wear the correct sporting equipment, including a helmet. You can also strengthen your neck and upper-back muscles to control head movement and take the force out of any blow.

5. Groin pull

A groin pull or strain can result when the groin muscles are tensed too forcefully or too suddenly. They are most common in sports that require a lot of running, sudden jumping and quick changes of direction such as football. Groin pulls also make up about 10% of all professional hockey player injuries!

To avoid injury, always make sure to warm up your legs and groin muscles before training, wear shoes with good support that fit well and make sure to engage in groin strengthening exercises.

4. Shin splints

Shin splints are quite common but are nothing more than inflammation of the muscle around your shinbone. They can occur during intense workouts or running (especially if you are new to the sport.)

The good news is that its pretty easy to avoid shin splints. Make sure to wear proper training shoes with good support, stretch your calf muscles and also work your calf muscles both eccentrically and concentrically. Exercises to strengthen your feet can also help to avoid shin splints.

3. Tennis or golf elbow

Tennis or golf elbow is often an overuse injury that can be seen in athletes who perform a great deal of gripping activities. The two most common forms of epicondylitis, medial epicondylitis (golfers elbow) and lateral epicondylitis (tennis elbow), typically occur due to poor swing.

To avoid injury, strengthen your forearm muscles and rotator cuff. It can also be useful to get a golf/tennis lesson to ensure that your swing isn’t off and to avoid injury to the muscle.

2. Achilles tear

Achilles tendinitis occurs most often in runners or athletes who play sports that include running and jumping. The Achilles tendon is found at the back of the ankle and can get inflamed and painful from overuse, and in worse-case scenarios, it can also tear.

To avoid tendinitis it is essential to have a good strengthening and flexibility program. Proper running shoes and strong hip flexor muscles can help in further avoiding injury while calf strengthening exercises can indirectly strengthen your Achilles tendon to give it more mobility.

1. Knee Injuries

Knee injuries are among the most common injuries in sports. One of the most common knee injuries is called patellofemoral syndrome which can be caused by a slip or a fall onto the knees, swelling of the knee joint or a muscle imbalance.

While they are common, you can help to avoid them by focusing on strengthening your hamstrings, quads and glutes. In strengthening your glutes you help your thighbone roll in while strong hamstrings prevent your shinbone from coming forward and so preventing injury.