Sports activities are a regular way of life for many of us now, and involve people from across all age groups and levels.
Many injuries are the result of overuse by playing too hard and too often e.g. rotator cuff injuries, tennis elbow, golfer’s elbow, and biceps tendinitis, or from not warming up properly beforehand or from not warming down after exercise.
Sometimes incorrect equipment can lead to injuries e.g. ill-fitting footwear can cause hip, knee and foot injury (e.g. Achilles injuries).
Returning to a sport after a break can be a common time when injuries occur. Reduced joint flexibility will affect performance and if the player is unaware that they cannot perform to the same level as they used to, they are at risk of injury.
Young people can be vulnerable in sport as their growing bodies are often expected to perform at a very high level.
The good news is that although sports injuries are common, those who are generally fit tend to recover more quickly and easily from their injuries.
How Osteopathy can help
As osteopaths we can help improve performance as well as treat the injuries being suffered.
By using our knowledge of diagnosis and highly developed observation and palpatory skills we can help to restore structural balance, improve joint mobility and reduce adhesions and soft tissue restrictions so that ease of movement is restored.
We will discuss the critical manoeuvres you make in your chosen sport or activity and help you identify weak or inefficient moves that can be addressed with exercises leading to enhanced performance.
For those of you wishing to keep fit, we can help you keep supple and improve muscle tone so reducing the risk of injury to soft tissues unaccustomed to the extra work they are being asked to do.
Treating Sports Injuries
If there is any possibility of head injury, fracture or severe soft tissue damage you need to go to A&E for assessment and appropriate treatment. Most sports injuries can be managed yourself at home.
For the first 24-48 hours after a joint sprain or strain, apply a cold pack to the area for 10 minutes, every hour. Keep warm between times. Use a bandage to compress the tissues, without being so tight it interferes with blood flow. Elevate and rest.
Very gentle movement through the affected joint may help to start the healing process.
After 24-48 hours, you need to MOVE. Start to use the affected joint without weight or load bearing initially – maybe go to the pool and walk in the water. Return to normal activity as quickly as you feel you can without provoking pain or swelling and use a variety of cross training options. It is important that muscles and joints move normally again as soon as possible, as this promotes healing.
Use compression only if it feels helpful.
Remember when starting to exercise
- Don’t go mad! Begin slowly and build up. Your body and brain need time to adjust to the new activity.
- Warm up first, and then after the activity warm down and include stretching so the muscles can cool down in their lengthened position.
- Avoid dehydration when exercising heavily.
- Frequency of activity is important. One long session per week is less effective than a little every day, and it’s worth including a range of activities. Over-training can create problems so it’s valuable to be aware of how your body is responding.