Sprains are an injury to a ligament 一 the tough, fibrous tissue that connects bones to other bones. Sprains typically occur when people fall and land on an outstretched arm, slide into base, land on the side of their foot, or twist a knee with the foot planted firmly on the ground. This results in an overstretch or tear of the ligament supporting that joint.
A strain is an injury to either a muscle or a tendon, the tissue that connects muscles to bones. Depending on the severity of the injury, a strain may be a simple overstretch of the muscle or tendon, or it can result in a partial or complete tear.
A strain is caused by twisting or pulling a muscle or tendon. An acute strain is caused by trauma or an injury such as a blow to the body, improperly lifting heavy objects or overstressing the muscles. Chronic strains are usually the result of overuse – prolonged, repetitive movement of the muscles and tendons.
Common types of lower leg strains are hamstring strains and tendonitis.
Contact sports such as soccer, football, hockey, boxing, and wrestling put people at risk for strains.