From Reflex Spinal Health Massage Therapist, Maria Pena: Understanding why chronic common sports injuries occur, what you can learn from them, and how to prevent them from happening again
Usually sports injuries can be divided into two categories.
Type 1) Acute injuries
These occur when something happens such as a sudden impact or sudden uncontrolled movement which causes damage to muscles, bones, tendon or ligaments. In sport this could be by sudden twisting or contact with an opponent, or equipment involved in the game such as a hockey stick, racquet, ball or goal post etc
Type 2) Chronic injuries
Most injuries fall into this category. Many common sports injuries result from repetitive overuse, lack of physical conditioning, fatigue, lack of proper warm up, muscle imbalance and poor posture.
Chronic injuries are basically brought on by yourself over many weeks/months/years by poor technique and training and the pain gradually worsens. Often it can be traced back to old injuries and old traumas where the body has made compensations in function and technique. There are specific range of childhood overuse sporting injuries to watch out for as well.
Pain and injury is the body’s way of telling you that something is wrong. Something you have been doing has been incorrect. If you suffer a chronic injury it is a time to assess what has caused the injury and then alter your habits/training regime to prevent them from re-occurring.
The entire body has muscles (or groups of muscles) that work against one another to control the movement of a joint.
The easiest examples to look at are:
If you regularly use the muscles on one side more than the other you will start to create a muscle imbalance
The shorter, stronger muscles pull that part of the body out of position. The body ends up making adjustments to compensate.
Many sports can strengthen certain muscles or you may train one group of muscles but not the opposite group which will cause muscle imbalance. Golf is a great example of a sport that trains assymetric muscle development.
When a muscle imbalance happens it pulls one of the joints out of position, which puts a strain on that joint. When that strain stresses the nerves around the joint it becomes painful. If the body readjusts itself to ease the pain, other sets of muscles can become imbalanced – and the cycle continues. A small, local problem in some muscles can affect more distant parts of the body and can effect overall body alignment and posture.
Many factors affect your posture; gravity, muscular strength and tension, obesity, pregnancy, stress and poor seat position.
In sport, good posture is essential. To perform almost all sporting movements, the body switches from position to position at varying speeds and for varying duration. If the body is not aligned correctly the body will compensate for this and therefore they will be unable to perform any movement to the optimal level.
The most important reason to have good posture is to reduce the likelihood of injury and chronic pain. Good posture also activates the deeper core muscles. These muscles increase the stability of the body and allows for more power, speed and better control.
Poor posture can lead to problems such as:
Short term – When an injury occurs you need to find someone to help you either by going to your doctor or by paying privately for treatment. You can choose to see a chiropractor, osteopath, acupuncturist, physiotherapist or sports massage therapist.
Medium term improvement – What dictates the outcome of any treatment is the follow through by you. You will need to assess and completely understand the factors that brought on the injury in the first place. Once this is understood you will need to change the factors that led to the injury during your rehab programme. We can advise on a specific rehab plan to you here at Reflex.
Long term improvement – you must work towards and maintain good posture and overall body function to boost levels of performance and prevent further common sports injuries occurring. This is where the joint approach of either chiropractic or osteopathy, alongside specific sports massage therapy really excel in improving performance and reducing the chance on re-injury. Most people do not change the original cause of stress that led to their injury. Ongoing, objective care, will keep you feeling great and performing at your best!
Strength and flexibility exercises should be a part of the athletes training program to help achieve and maintain good posture. Cross training can be very beneficial.
Training should be varied and done at higher, or sometimes lower intensity. Vary the days of training sessions, times of day, weather, surface and route. All of these changes can make a difference. Achieve your optimal level in your chosen sport and lessen the risk of common sports injuries!
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Reflex Spinal Health are a passionate, dynamic spinal health team. We are committed to help as many in our community of Reading, Berkshire and South Oxfordshire to enjoy the vitality of great health, to reach their health goals and feel truly alive! Our chiropractors and osteopaths offer the highest standards of care in a superb environment.