Sports injuries are injuries that happen when participating in sports or exercise and are usually to muscles, bones, cartilage, tendons or joints.
Acute and Chronic Injuries
Sports injuries are usually classified as either acute or chronic.
An acute sports injury happens in an instant e.g. muscle tears, ligament sprains or bruising caused by a fall or direct blow. Acute injuries usually result in pain, swelling, tenderness, weakness and loss of function.
Chronic sports injuries occur over an extended period. They can be caused by overuse, muscle weakness or imbalance and postural deficiencies. Like acute injuries they also result in pain, swelling, tenderness and weakness.
Sports Injury Treatment
The most effective initial treatment of an acute soft tissue injury is the RICER regimen.
This involves R rest i.e.stop doing what has caused it to being injured and painful. I ice it as soon as possible. C compress the injured site with a wide firm elastic bandage. This will achieve two things firstly it will reduce the bleeding and swelling into the tissue surrounding the injury. Secondly it provides support to the injured area. E elevate the injured area above the level of the heart whenever possible. This will further help to reduce the bleeding and swelling. R referral for appropriate medical treatment (the urgency of this will depend on how severe the injury is).
It is important to avoid heating and massaging an acute injury within the first 48-72 hours. Also avoid excessive alcohol. All of these will increase blood flow and swelling which will result in the injury taking longer to heal.
The role of the sports therapist will depend at what stage of injury the patient first sees the therapist. The therapist will assess the injury decide on the priorities which will depend on the stage of the injury and treat accordingly. This may involve further icing or heat treatment, taping, massage, stretching and advice on maintaining fitness while the injury heals.
Common Sports Injuries
- Muscle tears
- Ligament sprains
- Tendon pain
Common Running Injuries
- Hamstring tear
- Calf tear
- Sprained ankle
- Achilles tendon injuries
- Pain along the shin bone (shin splints)
- Pain below the knee
- Plantar fasciitis
- Groin strain
- Piriformis pain
John applying light and deep massage using the knuckles on the lower leg.