5 Nightmare Sports Injuries That Could End Your Athletic Career

There are many sports injuries you need to be aware of if you particpate in certain athletic disciplines ... photo by CC user Ben_Kerckx on pixabay


Straining a hamstring is one of the most common sports injuries, but actually tearing a hamstring can ruin an athlete’s career, especially without the correct medical assistance. Hamstring tears usually occur high up the leg where the thigh muscles meet the tendons. Tears are graded from 1 to 3 with a grade 3 being a partial tear or bad sprain, and a grade 1 being a complete rupture. A grade 1 tear can take months to heal and in some cases continually disrupt an athlete’s career. Hamstring tears are usually caused by insufficient warm ups or from over exertion after a period of absence from exercise. “Explosive” sprinters are most at risk from hamstring tears as they often develop incredibly powerful quadriceps on the front of the thigh, that are imbalanced in comparison to the strength of their hamstrings. Teenagers are also considered to be at high risk after growth spurts, as their hamstrings need time to develop the strength required to cope with a larger bone structure.

2. A.C.L. TEAR

Knee injuries are incredibly common in contact sport, in fact across all sports they account for around 55% of injuries. Tears to the cruciate ligaments in the knee can be incredible serious, causing an athlete to miss many months of competitions, as well as facing future reoccurring issues. The most common cruciate ligaments injuries are to the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), as the posterior cruciate ligament is much stronger. Even though the posterior cruciate ligament is the harder of the two to damage, it is the ACL that is not only the more painful but also the most serious, as it causes far more instability in the knee joint and a lot more swelling. Torn ACLs regularly require surgery to recover full mobility to the knee, and in some cases athletes fail to recover even after multiple surgeries.

Twenty years ago an ACL tear was almost a certain career ending injury, or at best an injury that an athlete would never fully recover from, but with the modern techniques now available, many athletes go on to have long and successful post-injury careers. This is just as well because ACL tears are incredibly common in contact sports such as football and rugby. The most common cause is heavy contact to the knee when the leg is planted. It can also occur from a sharp change of direction or if the body is forced in an unnatural direction when the knee is locked.


The tibia, also known as the shinbone, is the body’s second largest bone and is stronger than the bricks that make up a house. The force required to snap a tibia would need to be excessive, yet it is still a relatively common injury in contact sports. Many professional athletes have been forced to retire from sports after suffering a leg break, including footballer David Busst, whose break was so violent that it left Manchester United goalkeeper, Peter Schmeichel, in need of counselling. NFL quarterback Joe Theismann’s leg break is considered to be one of the worst in sporting history. The leg has four bones, the tibia, the femur, the patella and the fibula. Some players have broken a number of these bones in a single incident yet still gone on to make a full recovery. However in many instances, especially among amateur sports enthusiasts, a triple leg break has ended a sporting career.


Concussion is now taken incredibly seriously in sporting competitions of any level. For example, play has to stop immediately in football and rugby matches if a head injury is suspected. In American Football this is obviously much harder to spot as there is constant physical clashing between players helmets, and players are often not aware themselves when they are concussed. As lot has been said about concussion and head injuries in recent years, particularly because of studies linking multiple concussions with brain disease. A condition called chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) was previously thought to only affect boxers, who obviously sustain an unusual number of blows to the head during their careers, but it is now thought to affect anyone who has suffered multiple concussions, particularly NFL players. As a result, repeated concussions are now definitely being seen as potential career threatening injuries. Arsenal, and former Chelsea, goalkeeper Petr Čech was left in a life threatening condition, when he suffered concussion and a depressed skull fracture from a tackle in 2006. He was instructed by medical experts to wear a protective head brace in order to continue playing contact sports.

The impact speeds below give an idea of the dangers facing football players in every match:

Impact Speeds

Heavy Weight Boxer’s Punch: 20mph

American Football Player’s Tackle: 25mph

Heading a Football: 70mph

The long-term effects of repeated concussions are still being closely studied and debated worldwide, but the short-term effects of head injuries can be memory loss, impaired judgement, dizziness, erratic behaviour and depression.


A fractured vertebrae can not only end a sporting career but can also lead to permanent disability, making it among the most dangerous of sporting injuries. Christopher Reeve was infamously left paralyzed from the neck down following a shattering of two vertebras, whilst horse jumping in 1995. The severity of fractured vertebrae of course varies from case to case and does not always lead to paralysis. For instance Brazilian football star Neymar was ruled out for only six weeks, when he suffered a fractured vertebrae during the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Regardless of the severity, fractured vertebrae are definitely something that would make anyone consider taking out some sports insurance.

A serious sporting injury can have an equally devastating impact on your bank, if you don’t have the appropriate safety net in place. It’s important to speak to a specialist sports insurance provider such as Bluefin Sport to gain an understanding of the risks to your organisation, and ensure you have a bespoke policy in place to help ease the financial burden should the worst happen.