Treating the most common sports injuries

3. Hamstring strain

What it is: Three muscles in the back of the thigh form the hamstring. The hamstring can be over-stretched by movements such as hurdling — kicking the leg out sharply when running. Falling forward while waterskiing is another common cause of hamstring strains.

What you can do: “Hamstring injuries are slow to heal because of the constant stress applied to the injured tissue from walking,” says Royster. “Complete healing can take six to 12 months.” Re-injuries are common because it’s hard for many guys to stay inactive for that long.

4. Shin splints

What they are: Pains down the front of the lower legs are commonly called “shin splints.” They are most often brought on by running — especially when starting a more strenuous training program like long runs on paved roads.

What you can do: Rest, ice, and over-the-counter pain medicine are the mainstays of treatment.

When to see a doctor: The pain of shin splints is rarely an actual stress fracture — a small break in the shin bone. But you should see your doctor if the pain persists, even with rest. Stress fractures require prolonged rest, commonly a month or more to heal.

5. Knee injury: ACL tear

What it is: The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) holds the leg bone to the knee. Sudden “cuts” or stops or getting hit from the side can strain or tear the ACL. A complete tear can make the dreaded “pop” sound.

When to see a doctor: Always, if you suspect an ACL injury. ACL tears are potentially the most severe of the common sports injuries. “A completely torn ACL will usually require surgery in individuals who wish to remain physically active,” says Royster.