Tears, sprains and contusions are three types of soft tissue injuries. Tears can happed to any soft tissue, but the two (2) most common are strains and sprains.
A Strain is a tear that occurs in a muscle. Often it is referred to as a “pulled” muscle or a commentator might say the athlete has “done his hamstring” in reference to a tear or strain. Strains (muscle tear) are normally caused by internal forces, poor technique or overtraining. Strains are often classified by a grading system with three (3) levels:
- Grade 1 tear/strain is a small tear to the muscle.
- Grade 2 tear/strain is a much larger tear around 50% or more torn.
- Grade 3 tear/strain refers to a complete tear, so that surgery is needed to join the muscle back together.
An example of a strain is a pulled hamstring.
A sprain is a tear that occurs to a ligament (joining bone to bone around joints). Sprains are often caused by an external force being transferred through the body often to the other side of a joint. They are always caused by a joint being bent in a direction it is not meant to move. Just like a strain, a sprain has three (3) levels of classification, that are exactly the same as above only applied to a ligament.
So a third degree tear is a ligament that has been torn in half and needs surgery to repair. An example of a sprain is a rolled ankle in netball or an ACL rupture in the knee.
A contusion is when capillaries are ruptured causing internal bleeding. It is normally referred to as a bruise. A bruise is normally caused by external force upon the soft tissue that results in the capillaries bursting. Contusions are also caused through internal forces being imbalanced resulting in capillaries bursting.