In the past, sports injuries were mostly limited to professional athletes, young people participating in school sports programs, and men participating in weekend activities such as rugby. However more and more people of all ages and both sexes are doing regular sports and fitness activities. There are even women now doing traditional men’s sports such as soccer, basketball and rugby. However the majority of people are involved in such activities as golf, tennis, running and activities such as aerobic classes or weight training. No matter what activity one does, there is always the risk of injury. Injury can be broken down into two basic types, one from trauma such as a slip, fall or collision and the other being of the over-use or repetitive stress variety.

Traumatic Injuries

These injuries can cause the debilitating type of problems often associated with trauma. Most of these injuries are usually to the ligaments, the tissue that connects bones to bones and or to muscles though fractures and dislocations do occur at times especially with the contact sports. A strain is any injury to either a muscle or its tendon and a sprain to ligaments. The most common areas for these types of injuries are the ankles, knees, and the shoulders though other areas can be affected including the low back and neck. Of course, injuries to the neck and low back can be quite serious as the spinal cord or spinal nerves can also be involved.

Traumatic injuries can vary from a mild “muscle pull” or ankle twist to a serious problem requiring surgery. It all depends upon the degree of tearing of the tissues, the location, and the age of the person. Most sprains and strains are associated with some degree of swelling and sometimes internal bleeding especially with the ankles and knees. With all strains and sprains proper management is very important especially during the initial stages of the injury to insure proper healing and no future disability.

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The following is an acronym for the post-injury management of sprains and strains especially if no professional help is available: PRICE

  • P -Protect the injury from further damage

  • R -Rest the injury

  • I -Ice the injury to reduce swelling, bleeding, muscle spasm and pain

  • C -Compress the injury with a specialised support or elastic bandage to support the injured tissues

  • E – Elevate the injury when dealing with ankles and knees.

Of course it is important to get the injury properly assessed by a health care professional so to know the extent of damage. Most of these injuries can recover though do need proper care during the various stages of healing. If not manage carefully some sprains and strains can leave us with long lasting problems of joint instability, painful or weak joints and muscles, and lack of mobility. A Chiropractor who is trained in the management of sports injury can give you the proper advice and treatment to insure that your injury will heal in the best possible way.

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Overuse or Repetitive Strain Injuries:

These injuries are becoming more and more common especially among people pursuing sports such as golf, tennis, bowling or any other activity that are requires one to do the same activity over and over. Even running, especially on a treadmill can cause such problems. Some of these problems have been discussed in greater detail in other sections of the website one being tennis or golf elbow.

Basically these conditions occur when we are involved in a repetitive activity that causes a very slight strain to tissues especially tendons and muscles that alone would not cause a problem but done many times has an accumulative affect. After some time the muscle or other affected tissue develops changes that no longer allow it to function properly resulting in pain, stiffness and disability. There are two types of factors that predispose one to these types of problems one being intrinsic or found within one’s own body and extrinsic or external factors that can often be changed or controlled by the individual.

Common Intrinsic factors of Injury:

  1. Age – the older we are the easier it is to get injured

  2. Congenital abnormalities – some people are born joint or muscle problems

  3. Previous injuries – previously injured joints or muscles often lack proper function

Common Extrinsic factors of Injury:

  1. Equipment – improper grip size of tennis racquet, worn out running shoes

  2. Playing surface – playing soccer on hard surfaces, uneven treadmill

  3. Improper technique – improper golf grip or swing

  4. Poor conditioning – doing activity when out of shape

  5. Lack of warm-up – not stretching or preparing for activity

  6. Increased frequency or duration – not building up slowly

  7. Flexibility – too stiff to do activity correctly

  8. Stress – being tired or stressed can cause number 3 or 7

As we can see there are more factor that are extrinsic and therefore within our control. However most of us need assessment by a qualified health professional to determine the nature of the injury as well as the solution to the problem as left untreated these injuries can greatly affect ones life and limit a favourite activity. Besides eliminating the cause treatment is often required to stabilize the condition. The treatment might include joint manipulation, massage, therapy modalities, bracing and specific exercises.