- Are you in pain during or after your sports activities?
- Is pain or recurrent injury preventing you from enjoying your sport?
- Maybe you feel that you’re not moving as easily as usual?
- Do you take longer to recover from your exercise/sport?
- Is your sports performance – maybe your golf or tennis swing – not as good as usual?
You could have a sports injury.
What are minor sports injuries?
Typically, the term sports injury is used to describe the way in which a problem started, they are mainly divided into trauma such as a fall or a hard tackle and overuse such as a tendon strain or muscle stiffness.
Almost any part of the body can be injured, including the muscles, bones, joints and connective tissues (tendons and ligaments). The ankles and knees are particularly prone to injury (NHS 2017).
We can’t avoid accidents and they are part of some sports!
However, we can maximise our chance of recovery! Overuse injuries occur from doing too much too often or increasing intensity too soon, for example whilst preparing for a race, and not sufficiently recovering.
Occasionally we push our bodies beyond the point where they can compensate and recover which results in pain. Pain can be present as you exercise preventing you from training or competing or it can be present during everyday activities, so correctly managing injury is essential to maximize recovery. Getting a thorough assessment to identify the problem and get back on track is very sensible. Assessment and treatment can stop an injury worsening as well as giving you the confidence to return to activity safely and with as little time off as possible. There may be simple self-care strategies you can use as well as hands on treatment to speed up the process.
Types of sports injury
Sports injuries can affect people at any level of sport from recreational weekend walkers to professional athletes! In fact, a sports injury is not dissimilar to any other kind of injury and is a way to describe how it started!
Common sports can injuries include:
- muscle strain
- ligament strain
- joint sprain
- groin pulls
- hamstring strains
- Achilles tendon problems
- knee pain (patellofemoral pain)
- shin splints (medial tibial stress syndrome)
- twisted ankles
- shoulder pain or impingement
- and occasionally back pain
The main symptom of an injury is pain, this can be during or after activity, It can be a mild discomfort often described as an ache or it can be a sharp pain. Some people have little pain but notice a decrease in performance or flexibility, It may just be that you don’t feel as if you are performing as well as you can or moving as easily as you would like. An early sign of problems can be that it takes you longer to recover from activity or that one area hurts for longer than another, a classic example of this is DOMS or delayed onset muscle soreness lasting longer than expected or being different from usual. It could be in one leg but not the other or still having that familiar aching feeling a few days after exercise or from less intense exercise than before.
The causes can be simplified into two main types although there are many more specific causes to do with biomechanics, posture, exercise form and technique.
Slips, trips falls or contact sports resulting in damage or injury. These can’t always be avoided but can be managed to limit the impact on the body. Some sports like horse riding or rugby will often result in impacts and injury – although not intended these impacts are often unavoidable. The goal of treatment here is often to rehabilitate the injury safely and quickly whilst trying to prevent the area getting injured again or it impacting upon other areas as your body compensates. Acute (meaning new) injuries should heal and improve but can often hang around leading to longer term problems correct rehabilitation can stop this happening.
The most common cause of sporting injury is poor load management, put simply “I overdid it’ doing too much, too soon or too often. Putting ourselves under stress or training load beyond the body’s ability to cope and adapt can result in overuse injuries. These injuries may come and go as our physical stress levels change, they often are persistent or seem like that area “always goes”. They may get better with rest but return as you start training again. It is very common for runners to have leg pains from over use when increasing distance or speed. Throwing athletes often have overuse injuries sometimes called impingement or rotator cuff problems. Balancing the muscles correctly by reliving tension in some and strengthening others is a key to successful management for shoulders.
This isn’t really a type of injury so much as a factor that lead to problems in the first place.
Biomechanics means how the body moves. Poor biomechanics through training or posture can lead to increased load on some parts of the body. Think of a golfer taking thousands of swings one way and none the other. This will lead to imbalances to the muscles and movements patterns, which may create discomfort in one or more body areas. Biomechanical issues can affect any sport and may affect performance or cause pain. Minor issues amplified over many repetitions can slowly creep up, so good exercise form is important.
Osteopaths specialise in the relationship between structure and function and how they interrelate and impact a person. The biomechanical compromise may not be entirely down to sport, but can be caused by bad posture at work impacting your sport! This is very common in desk based people who take part in sport only at weekends. Their pain may be present when they exercise but the trigger may well be the hours they spend at a desk.
How we can help…
Osteopaths and Sports therapists are ideally placed to assess and treat sports injuries; we have extensive training specialising in this area and over the years have helped thousands of patients recover from injuries and return to pain free movement.
We aim to get you back to activity as quickly and safely as possible! After a thorough examination we can highlight the nature of the injury as well as how long it will take to heal.
We will look at the muscles and joints surrounding the area and ascertain what may have led to the issue in the first place, which helps prevent future recurrence!
We will provide hands on treatment to the muscles and joints, which may consist of massage and stretches or gently mobilizing and manipulating joints back to normal movement, as well as prescribing a rehabilitation plan consisting of stretches and exercises to maximize recovery. We can advise if you should be using ice or heat and if it is safe to move the area or not. We can also advise on supports and equipment as you recover.
We may even offer some suggestions on the best nutrition strategies whilst recovering! Did you know that increasing your protein intake to 1.6g per kg of bodyweight has been shown to cut muscle healing times!
Sports massage can be used to prevent overuse injuries as well as improve performance and enhance recovery, lots of athletes have these regularly as “maintenance’. Think of it as an investment in your health.
First aid for sports injuries – POLICE
In the early stages of an injury it is important to let the body heal and not cause further injury to an area. Protect it by resting and avoiding painful activities for 24-72 hours you will likely have some pain and swelling at this stage which is part of normal healing.
This may mean rest, or relative rest which is where you avoid putting undue strain on an area but start moving again! Most injuries respond well to gentle and progressive load. Prolonged total rest is rarely beneficial and actually slows recovery. Start with gentle mobility work and build your activities up within your tolerance level.
Ice is a natural pain killer and a good first line way to reduce swelling and manage pain. New injuries should be iced at first and then progress to heat and contrast bathing. Be careful not to get freeze burns – cover the ice or frozen peas in a tea towel and apply for 10-15 mins once an hour or so. Little and often usually best.
This depends on the site of problems but a support or fabric bandage or support can help you feel confident as you return to activity as well as reducing swelling and pain.
If you can find a comfortable position, elevating the injured area can help reduce swelling and improve the drainage and circulation to the area.
What to do now ……
If you’ve come to this website looking for help, then don’t in silence suffer any longer.
Contact us immediately on 01462 811006 for a consultation and let’s assess your condition.
At the assessment, we’ll take some details from you and build your case history. We’ll discuss why you’ve come to see us and where you have any aches and pains. Then we’ll examine you with the aim of giving you the appropriate treatment.
This will take a little while to complete, but it’s a necessary part of the ethical guidelines we work to. The guidelines are there to make sure everything is done professionally and to a high standard of patient care. I’m sure you agree that’s a good thing!
If you have any questions about what we do and how we do it, call us on 01462 811006 or use the contact form below – and we’ll be happy to help.