Road Bikers Compete

Exercise and Sports Injury

You’ve heard the saying “No Pain, No Gain”.  I like to subscribe to the saying, “No Pain, No Pain”.  But what if you are hurt?  Is it smart to exercise after getting injured?  Contrary to popular thought, Yes!  However, as a chiropractor who works with many St. George athletes, I am going to throw out a caveat.  If you are to exercise after an injury, you need to be extremely careful in how you do it because it can and will lead to greater injury if done incorrectly.

What if you are REALLY hurt, such as injuries related to a car crash?  Are you supposed to exercise?  Barring a few exceptions, yes.  But this is where you need to be really careful about the intensity and quality of exercise.

Is it smart to exercise on your own at the gym, or do you actually need to listen to what the ER said about physical therapy?  I guess that depends on what results you want.  There was a study recently done that compared exercising by yourself on a general exercise plan versus exercising under the direction of a trained professional or physician.

This study covered a period of time of six months.  They showed that those that followed a program, but did it as an individual did indeed receive results.  In fact, 28% had a significant reduction of pain.  Pretty impressive.  I imagine that those that were part of the individualized program were also dedicated and motivated.

There are several types of injuries that are common when playing sports that can affect your bones, muscles, joints, connective tissues or a combination of areas. Injuries often result when sports activities are performed incorrectly or when the body is overworked. But you can prevent some of the most common sports injuries if you take care of yourself while training. (And if you do happen to sustain an injury, be sure to choose the best plan for recovering from a sports injury.)

Most Common Sports Injuries and What You Can Do:

  1. Sprain or strain. These injuries are very common among athletes and even in the general population. Sprains occur when a ligament is twisted, over-extended, or torn. A strain is the over-extension or tear of a muscle. It is more commonly referred to as a pulled muscle. A sprain or strain involves swelling and bruising in the area as well as pain and stiffness in the affected area. In order to prevent sprain or strain, it is important to warm up properly before working out or training. You should also make sure you are wearing well-fitting shoes. In addition, do not train if you are over-tired.
  1. Stress fracture. Stress fractures are tiny cracks in bones caused by repeated stress. These are most common for individuals who regularly participate in high-impact activities. Stress fractures can be very painful. They are usually treated with rest, ice, and anti-inflammatory medication. In severe cases, surgery may be required. Since they are often caused by pushing too hard too fast, stress fractures can be prevented by increasing stamina and endurance slowly.
  1. Torn Hamstring. This type of sports injury is very common among athletes. It happens when the tendons around the hamstring, or back of the upper leg, become torn. A sudden lunge or jump can cause the tendons to tear. Usually, a popping sensation is felt or even heard and instant pain follows. The muscle immediately seizes up and feels very tender. There will also likely be swelling and bruising around the hamstring. Physical therapy is usually required to recover from a torn hamstring. While there is no foolproof method to prevent a hamstring injury, flexibility training has been shown to decrease risks of hamstring injury.
  1. Torn ACL. This is another common injury among athletes. The anterior cruciate ligament is one of the main tendons that stabilize the knee. It is torn when the knee is hyperextended and pivoted at the same time. It causes severe pain, swelling, and difficulty walking. Treatment involves surgery and physical therapy. Balance and agility training is key in preventing injury to the ACL.
  1. Back Pain. Back pain can be caused by any kind of sport injury that involves the spine or back muscles and tissues. Most commonly, muscle strain will cause back pain, but more severe injuries to the back would include stress fractures and disc misalignment. Individuals who engage in sports that require regular extension of the back are at higher risk for back injury. These sports include volleyball, gymnastics, and dancing. Treatment for back pain can include massage, chiropractic care, and, in extreme cases, surgery. Preventing back injuries involves strengthening and stretching the core muscles.
  1. Shin Splints. Shin splints are inflammation in the connective tissues around the shin bone. They are most common in any sport that requires running. Shin splints are usually treated with self-care techniques. Rest, icing the shins, and taking anti-inflammatories will usually take care of the problem. Injury can be prevented by warming up properly, wearing the right shoes, and following a proper cool down practice.
  1. Joint Dislocation. Joint dislocation is common in contact sports such as basketball and football. It happens when a place where bones come together becomes dislodged. The area may appear disfigured, be intensely painful, and you will likely be unable to move the joint. Medical attention is required to restore the joint. Afterward, rest and physical therapy will help heal the joint. Avoiding joint dislocation is not always possible. Wearing proper safety equipment can help prevent this.

 

In general, the most common sports injuries can be treated with a combination of self-care, physical therapy and an experienced chiropractor. Injury is common among athletes, but in most cases, you can return to the field after completion of treatment. Preventing injury is usually a matter of warming up and cooling down properly as well as practicing correct form while training. Sports injury should never be ignored. With proper treatment, you can more quickly go back to working toward your goals.

We have also outlined the following popular means of exercise, highlighting issues to consider:

 

Silhouette of Runner in Blue Mountains: Preventing Common Sports Injuries

Running

Knee pain for runners can be one of the most devastating conditions to the morale of the runner.  Any runner that you talk to will probably, at one point of the conversation, mention something about it being a mental game more than physical.  If you are suffering from a chronic nagging pain in the knee while running, it can literally take you out of the race before it even begins. But you can take steps to prevent running injuries.

Male Swimmer in White Cap doing Butterfly Stroke: Preventing Common Sports Injuries

Swimming

Competitive swimming places tremendous demands on the shoulder, resulting in high shoulder injury rates among swimmers. Strength and endurance of the scapular muscles (especially serratus anterior and trapezius) is considered extremely important for both sport performance and shoulder injury prevention. Strengthening programs including elastic bands and dumbbells have been recommended for swimmers; however, few researchers have evaluated the effectiveness of a specific scapular strengthening program in adolescent swimmers. Furthermore, it remains unclear if an exercise program focusing on strength or endurance is better for scapular muscle function. Take action to prevent swimming injuries.

Cyclist #148 Leaning on Aerobars while Riding: Preventing Common Sports Injuries

Cycling

Pain in the back of the elbow can be a very discouraging problem for cyclists.  Fortunately, it can be a relatively simple correction.  Before you can correct a problem, you have to first identify why you have a problem.  Let’s first discuss a couple possible reasons as to the “why”.  It’s very common when a rider is just starting out with cycling, that they grip the handlebars or the hoods too tightly, which causes the Triceps, or the back of your arms, to contract to support your weight on the bars.  If you can imagine, long rides, while gripping the bars too tightly, will put constant stress on the back of the elbow where the Triceps attach.  If you ride 3 days a week for a month it becomes very evident as to why the back of your elbow becomes painful.  The simple solution to this problem is to stretch, ice the area of pain, and learn to not grip the handlebars so tightly. That is just one way to prevent cycling injuries.