Sprains and Strains? What’s the difference.

Sprains and strains. At some point in our lives we may have injured ourselves such as working out and using a machine the wrong way to strain a muscle or being in gymnastics and coming down from an aerial trick the wrong way and spraining an ankle.

They both hurt obviously but what happens to the body to create these type of injuries? What exactly is the difference between  sprains and strains?

Here are the basics of both sprains and strains of the body.

What are Sprains and Strains?

Sprains are when a LIGAMENT is stretched or torn.sprains and strains

Ligaments are tissues that connect bones at the joint. They help stabilize and support the body’s joints. For example, there are ligaments in the knee that connect the upper part of the leg and the lower part of the leg together to provide functionality for walking and running. The most common sprains are of the wrist and ankle.

Signs & Symptoms:

  • Hearing a pop or tear when the injury occurs.
  • Pain
  • Hearing
  • Swelling
  • Bruising
  • Hard to move the joint.


Strains are when a TENDON is stretched or torn.sprains and strains

Tendons are tissues that connect muscle to bone.  Usually these happen while playing sports like football and basketball. The most common areas for these to happen are in the back and the hamstrings.

Signs & Symptoms:

  • Pain
  • Muscle spasms
  • Swelling
  • Cramping
  • Trouble moving the muscle
  • Loss of muscle functioning

What causes sprains and strains?

The causes for sprains and strains are similar and different. They both are caused by a misuse of the body from improper function or actions. The difference is in the time that they can develop.

A sprain is caused by direct or indirect trauma, whether that be from a fall off of a bike or a blow to the body. When this trauma happens it can either overstretch, knock a joint out of place or in some severe cases, rupture surrounding ligaments.

If you are running on an uneven surface, sliding into first base or jumping and you land on the side of the foot this can happen to you.

A strain can happen immediately or over time. Chronic strains are caused by the over use of muscles and tendons. Acute strains are caused by a direct blow or excessive muscle contraction. Also not taking a rest break in between intense training will help this develop.

So if you work at a warehouse and you usually pick up 50 lb boxes daily. over the years you can have a strain in your back. Or if you are trying to show out at the gym and you load on too many weights and lift them you can create an immediate strain.

Treating Sprains and Strains sprains and strains

Rest, ice, compression, and elevation usually will help minimize the damage. It is important to see a doctor when a sprain or strain is possible.

Not getting an appointment can cause further damage to the injured body part. A severe sprain or strain may require surgery or immobilization followed by months of therapy. Mild sprains and strains may require rehabilitation exercises and activity modification during recovery.

Preventing sprains and strainssprains and strains

You can’t be “immune” to sprains or strains so to speak, but there are certain precautions that you can take to lower the risk of them happening.

  • Do stretching exercises daily. This is the number one thing you can do!
  • Participate in a conditioning program to build muscle strength
  • Always wear properly fitting shoes
  • Nourish your muscles by eating a well-balanced diet
  • Warm up before any sports activity, including practice
  • Use or wear protective equipment appropriate for that sport
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