sport injuries

Playing sport and doing regular exercise is good for your health, but can sometimes result in injuries.

Most people will only experience minor sport-related injuries such as cuts and grazes or blisters.

Pain, swelling and restricted limb movements are fairly common. Affected areas can include:

  • muscles
  • bones
  • ligaments (thick bands of tissue that connect one bone to another)
  • tendons (tough, rubbery cords that link muscles to bones)
  • joints – the hips, elbows, ankles and knees
  • cartilage (tough, flexible tissue that covers the surface of joints and allows bones to slide over one another)
Why Sport Injuries happen

Sports injuries can be caused by:

  • an accident
  • not warming up properly before exercising
  • using inadequate equipment or poor technique
  • pushing yourself too hard (overtraining)

 

Your doctor may describe a sports injury as:

  • a sudden injury – which is the result of a sudden impact or an awkward movement
  • an overuse injury – which develops over time as a result of overusing certain parts of the body or poor technique

 

Overuse injuries are common in professional athletes because of the intense nature of their training.

Children can also develop overuse injuries. To reduce the risk they should be encouraged to play a variety of sports, and have any training monitored by a qualified coach.

Preventing sports injuries

Not all sports injuries can be prevented, but you can reduce your risk of getting injured by:

  • warming up properly before you exercise
  • not pushing your body beyond your current fitness level
  • using recommended safety equipment for specific sports, such as shin guards for football or a gum shield for rugby
  • receiving coaching to learn correct techniques

If you start a new sport or activity, get advice and training from a qualified healthcare professional or sports coach.

What to do if you are injured

Stop exercising if you feel pain, regardless of whether your sports injury happened suddenly or you’ve had the pain for a while. Continuing to exercise while you’re injured may cause further damage and slow your recovery time.

Also important to note the following as soon as possible after injury: RICE – Rest, Ice, Compress, Elevate

Are sports worth the risk?

After reading this article, you might get the impression that sports are risky activities, but this isn’t the case. Any physical activity, even walking to the shops, involves some degree of risk.

It’s important to remember the health benefits that sport and exercise can give you, such as:

  • reducing your risk of developing serious diseases later in life, such as heart  disease and cancer
  • improving your mood, self-confidence and sense of wellbeing
  • helping you to maintain a healthy weight

When you have an injury that restricts your ability to move, it’s important to treat the problem and the cause of the injury.

Not just to improve your life in the short term, but to prevent any long term problems.

Suffering from an injury can be miserable, involving a lot of worry about the nature of the problem and what treatment method is right for you. That’s why we’ve got our osteopaths  to provide the below quick guide to common treatments:
Achilles Tendon Pain

Foot and Ankle Pain

Pain can occur in the foot and ankles for a number of reasons.

The foot and ankle is made up of a number of small bones interconnected by ligaments, muscles and fascia all working together to give the strength, stability and flexibility the foot and ankle needs to function properly.
Common conditions of the foot, ankle and areas which can give rise to pain include:

Acquired flat foot – when the inner side of the foot or inner arch flattens. The foot may roll over to the inner side (known as over-pronation). It is often apparent if the heels of shoes wear out quickly and unevenly. Over-pronation can damage your ankle joint and achilles tendon (the tendon at the back of your ankle) and can also cause shin pain. Symptoms can include, pain, swelling, change in foot shape and knee pain or swelling.

Plantar fasciitis –is pain and inflammation in the plantar fascia – the tough fibrous band of tissue that supports the arches of the foot and runs under the small bones from the underside of the heel and sole towards the toes, Often, people who have plantar fasciitis describe it as a sharp pain, most often under the heel or instep of the foot. It tends to be made worse by standing for long periods of time in poor footwear. Sufferers commonly mention that it is worse when standing after being off their feet for a long time, and it can hurt more putting the foot on the floor first thing in the morning. The sole of the foot can occasionally feel a little numb, tingly or swell slightly. In some cases of plantar fasciitis, a small spur of bone can grow where the plantar fascia attaches and pulls on the heel which can cause a sharp pain.

Achilles pain –The Achilles tendon is formed by the tendon of the two calf muscles, the gastrocnemius and soleus coming together and attaching onto the bone at the back of the heel called the calcaneus) Pain, inflammation or tendonitis in the Achilles can cause pain and tightness in this area.

Sprained ankle. Typically the result of a sudden twisting or “going over” on the ankle joint and more commonly it is the ligaments on the outside of the ankle that are strained. Typical symptoms are swelling, bruising, pain and instability of the ankle. Sometimes an x-ray is required to rule out any fracture. Rest, ice, elevation and compression are often advisable in the first 24 to 48 hours.

How can an osteopath help with foot and ankle pain?

  • Depending on the diagnosis and your age and fitness we can use a variety of gentle massage and manipulative techniques to increase the mobility of the joints and the flexibility of the muscles in the foot.
  • We will often look at muscles and joints in the lower limb, the knee, hip and lower back and may treat any joint restrictions and muscle tightness we find there. Often improving the movement in the joints of the lower will help the foot and ankle function better.
  • We may offer specific balancing, strengthening or loosening exercises
  • We may offer advice on strapping and brace supports, footwear and any lifestyle factors that might be hindering healing. We may refer you to a podiatrist for their opinion and specialist foot supports
  • X-rays, scans or other tests may be required to make a diagnosis  and we may refer you to your  GP for any additional  investigations and treatment  such as advice on pain killers and anti-inflammatory medications
Knee Injuries

Knee Pain

The knee is the largest joint in the body. It is a major weight-bearing joint and is one of the most frequently injured joints in the human body.

Knee pain can have a number of different causes and can be painful and debilitating and although some conditions may require surgery many can be helped with the right advice, exercise and treatment.

The knee joint lies between the femur and tibia and at the front is the patella or kneecap. It is made up of a number of structures including ligaments, muscles, capsule, synovial membrane and two ‘c’ shaped pieces of cartilage which sit between the femur and tibia known as the menisci.

Damage, strain or sprain to the structures of the knee can give rise to symptoms.  It can be the result of a sudden injury as often seen in sports injuries or by repeatedly placing strain on an area of the knee. Poor alignment of the knee or kneecap and altered joint mechanics in relation to other joints such as the hips and knees are often significant. Osteoarthritis or wear and tear is a common condition that affects the knee.

Common symptoms in the knee include pain, stiffness, aching, pain, locking, swelling, limping and difficulty fully straightening or bending the knee.

X-rays, scans and other tests are sometimes required to make a diagnosis and your osteopath may refer to your GP or a specialist for any additional investigations or treatment.

Elbow Pain

Tennis Elbow and Golfers Elbow

Pain in the elbow is often due to two main conditions – tennis elbow and golfers elbow.

Tennis elbow causes pain and tenderness around the outside of the elbow joint, whereas golfer’s elbow causes pain around the inner side of the joint.

Tennis elbow is more common than golfers elbow and both are injuries from repetitive overuse or wear and tear from any hobby, sport or activity not just tennis or golf as the name implies. Sometimes a single injury such as a sudden unexpected tug on the forearm can cause the symptoms.

Once the pain starts, your normal activities and habits can maintain the problem.

Pre-existing problems with your neck, wrist or shoulder, that might not be painful in themselves, can make it more likely for you to suffer with tennis or golfers elbow. Most cases ease naturally eventually but many people seek treatment and advice from an osteopath.

How can an osteopath help with Tennis elbow and Golfers elbow?

  • We can use a variety of different massage and manipulation techniques to try to ease your symptoms, get to the cause of the problem and get you back to your normal life style. We may gently manipulate the elbow, wrist, neck and upper back joints.
  • We may offer you advice on which activities and movements to avoid, advice on specific exercise and advice an appropriate elbow brace support or sports strapping.
  • We may suggest you see your GP for advice about pain medication or anti-inflammatories or refer you to them for further investigations.
Shoulder and Rotator Cuff Injuries

Shoulder Pain

Shoulder Pain is common and can be caused by a number of conditions. These conditions include:

  • Rotator cuff problem  –  pain in the shoulder or upper arm, particularly when lifting the arm, lying on it or using the sore muscles. It is often the result of repetitive overuse of the arm and shoulder during a sport or activity or the result of a shoulder injury.  Age can also play a part.
  • Acromioclavicular joint pain  –  painful joint on the tip of the shoulder where the collarbone and shoulder blade join
  • Frozen shoulder or adhesive capsulitis  – is the painful and gradual stiffening of the shoulder capsule (the tissue that surrounds your shoulder joint) and the shoulder can often become so stiff and painful that it limits your ability to use your arm in everyday activities.
  • Referred shoulder pain - pain is experienced in an area away from the actual injury or problem e.g. pain in shoulder which is usually referred from the neck or upper back
  • Osteoarthritis – progressive wearing away of the cartilage of the joint leading to the two bones of the joint rubbing together causing pain. Patients who have had previous trauma or shoulder surgery are most likely to develop osteoarthritis in later life. Symptoms include swelling, stiffness, aching and sharp, stabbing pains.
  • Shoulder instability – dislocation or excessive movement of the shoulder joint.

Strapping and Taping

Taping Techniques

Strapping with adhesive tape is important for the prevention of joint injuries, especially the ankle and hand. Taping is also essential during early management of injury and rehabilitation. Recurrence of injury when the athlete recommences training is less likely with supportive taping.

A variety of sports use taping to prevent injury. In karate, the foot is taped to prevent injury. Adhesive tape is often used to help athletes recover from ligament sprains of the ankle or to help prevent further injury. Sports most commonly associated with ankle sprains include basketball, football, baseball and soccer.

Ankle taping can protect the ankle from injury when an athlete lands awkwardly.

Preventative taping has also been found to:

  • Reduce severity of injury to the ligament
  • Lower recurrence of injury by as much as 75%,
  • Give the most support while limiting backward bending

Ankle taping can protect the ankle from injury when an athlete lands awkwardly.

Athletic taping is the process of applying tape directly to the skin in order to maintain a stable position of bones and muscles during athletic activity. It is a procedure that uses tape, attached to the skin, to physically keep in place muscles or bones at a certain position. This reduces pain and aids recovery. Taping is usually used to help recover from overuse and other injuries.

The general goals of athletic taping are to restrict the motion of injured joint, compress soft tissues to reduce swelling, support anatomical structure involved in the injury, serve as a splint of to secure a splint, secure dressing or bandages, protect the injured joint from re-injury, and protect the injured part while the injured part is in the healing process.

Strapping and Taping 1
Strapping and Taping 2
Advantages

Injury Prevention:
Athletic taping is recognized as one of the top preventative measures for reduction of injuries in collision sports. These injuries often occur as a result of extrinsic factors such as collision with other players or equipment. Athletic taping has also been shown to reduce the severity in injuries, as well as the occurrence of injury in most sports. Preventative taping may also decrease the prevalence of chronic or overuse injuries in joints such as the ankle or wrist.

Injury Management:
Tape is often applied to manage symptoms of chronic injuries such as medial tibial stress syndrome (or shin splints), patella-femoral syndrome, and turf toe. Athletic tape can be applied to ease pain symptoms as well. Taping along the nerve tract of irritated or inflamed tissue can shorten the inflamed region and reduce pain.

Other post-injury benefits include:
1) stabilizing and supporting joints after injuries to the muscle or ligament;
2) assisting and allowing the athlete to return to activity after minor injuries;
3) preventing and reducing further harm to injured area;
4) maintaining proper biomechanics during activity;
5) preventing neuromuscular damage; and
6) reducing force on the area during activity.