Sports injuries are defined as "damage to the tissues of the body that occur as a result of sport or exercise." (IOC). Whilst any part of the body can be injured as the result of sport, the term sports injuries generally refers to the musculoskeletal system (bone, muscle, ligament, tendon). Depending on the demands of the sport it is possible to injure a large variety of parts of the body. Rehabilitation of sports injuries is essential to enable return to full function. Furthermore, previous injury to muscles such as the calf and hamstrings appears to increase risk of a further injury, likely due to reduced strength (see here). A physiotherapist will be able to identify any ongoing weaknesses and prescribe exercises accordingly.
Certain injuries such as ankle sprains, groin strains and knee ACL injuries are frequently associated with sports such as soccer, basketball and skiing due to the high forces involved during sprinting, and rapid changes of direction in addition to direct contact with other players. This can lead to acute soft tissue injuries, sprains or strains to muscles, ligaments and tendons. Acute soft tissues injuries tend to resolve quicker if correct acute management is applied to the injury from the outset.
Healing time frames for sports injuries will vary depending on the tissue injured and the severity of tissue damage. For example, a mild muscle strain may heal in 2-4 weeks, but a severe one may take up to 6 months. Similarly a mild ligament sprain may take up to 3 weeks to heal, but a severe one may take 6 months to a year. This is due to the different blood supply and properties of the tissues themselves, which can affect their capacity to heal. A physiotherapist will be able to determine the grade of injury from signs and symptoms and give you an indication of prognosis for your injury. They will guide you through your rehabilitation, gradually increasing the load on your body in a controlled way and ensuring that you reach full function for return to sport if possible. Time frames will vary based on various individual circumstances such as age and past medical history factors such as smoking and diabetes.