Sports Injuries – A guide to why they happen and how to fight the hurt

Runner with back pain Lilliput Health Poole

Troubleshooting Sport Injuries

From ‘weekend warriors’, to committed gym goers, all of us know how important exercise is. The problem is, when you pick up an injury, what should you do? What is the best way to manage the issue and get you back to normal, whether it’s a twinge in the groin during the Sunday 11-a-side match, or shoulder pain when you swim.

As The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy states on the back, ‘DON’T PANIC’. It’s important to take simple steps to prevent further problems.

Before we get into that, let’s run through some of the more common reasons you can sustain an injury.

  • Due to an accident (e.g. a poorly timed tackle in football)
  • Use of improper equipment or an unsafe exercising environment
  • Poor training methods and preparation (common in first time runners)
  • Poor technique (e.g. when using weights in the gym)
  • Ineffective warm ups and cool downs
  • Being in poor shape or “out of practice.” This even can be the case after another injury you have sustained

There are a variety of injuries you can sustain when keeping fit or playing sport competitively.

Common sports injuries include:

  • Ligament Sprains (e.g. twisting your ankle)
  • Muscle tears and strains
  • Repetitive strain based injuries
  • Bruising or contusion – damage to small blood vessels which causes bleeding within the tissues
  • Hyperextension and dislocation of joints – where joints are stretched past their normal limits which can lead to associated ligament and muscle injury.
  • Cramping – a strong muscle contraction that can be very painful lasting a few minutes

A good self-management strategy is important – this can speed the healing process.

The scientific community has a consensus of what you should do:

Protect – Rest & compress if the region if possible. Rest should be relative – we are designed to move, and complete immobilisation has been proven to be detrimental long term. So keep the affected area gently mobile. We would then advise making an appointment to see a Chartered Physiotherapist as soon as possible. We are always happy to discuss symptoms and provide appropriate advice to patients to ensure they are following correct methods to feel better.

Off-Load – Try not to overuse the area injured. Keep an injured area moving is important, but not in excess. You will need to modify your activities.

Ice – Wrap either some frozen peas or an ice pack in a wet towel, and place over the painful region. Keep it there for no more than 15minutes, and remove if the area becomes numb or more painful. Repeat every 2-3 hours for up to 2 days.

Elevate – If it’s the arm, resting it above shoulder height is best practice if able. For the leg, above hip height.

These instructions combine to give the memorable mnemonic POLICE!

Many people don’t like taking pain killers. It is of our opinion that short term pain killers and, where appropriate, anti-inflammatories, can aid in the healing process and allow you to feel better and participate more effectively in a rehab programme. If you aren’t sure, a quick call to your GP surgery or pharmacist for advice over the phone is best.

By booking yourself in with a Physiotherapist, we can get you going with a gradual graded exercise programme in order to rehabilitate the affected area. Getting started on appropriate exercises helps to ensure you don’t develop imbalances and to accelerate healing processes, whilst also working to try and prevent the problem from occurring again in the future. If you are unsure about your injury, or how best to manage it, book in with one of our Physiotherapists for an assessment.