Sports Injuries 

Sports injuries vary greatly depending on the sport, the level of competition and your personal fitness and preparation. As osteopaths we see the greatest number of injuries from contact sports – football, rugby and hockey most notably. Running injuries are the next most common followed by racquet sport injuries. 
 
Prevention is better than cure. Each sport has its own characteristics. For example footballers are particularly prone to knee injuries. A typical cartilage injury is caused by rotating a bent knee while body weight is on the joint (exactly what happens when kicking a ball). Footballers spend a lot of time strengthening their quadriceps muscles, particularly the vastus medialis and lateralis. These muscles support the inside and outside of the knee, and when strong, can reduce the risk of cartilage or ligament injuries. 
 
Runners can pick up jarring injuries as a result of the repeated impact of the heel during running. Using good quality running shoes with shock absorbing soles helps. Also running on soft ground or a mixture of hard and soft rather than just roads and pavements reduces risk. 
For all sports, warming up by stretching prior to competition or training and repeating the stretch routine after activity, reduces the likelihood of acquiring muscle injuries. 
 
DRICES  
If you are unfortunate enough to pick up an injury remember:  
D = Diagnosis. Find out what has been damaged so you know how to look after the injury and how best to speed recovery. 
 
R = Rest. Common sense dictates that you should not run on a broken bone or compete with a torn muscle but the length and extent of the rest period is very variable and you need to take advice. Broken leg bones need to be immobilised until new bone forms, once the bone is strong enough you will be advised to start taking weight on it. Muscles and ligaments when injured will benefit from careful and graded movement at an early stage. Muscle and ligament tissue contains collagen fibres, during tissue healing new collagen fibres are laid down. If the affected area is moved carefully during healing it promotes new collagen growth in the correct alignment which makes the tissue stronger once healed. 
 
I = Ice. Use ice or alternate hot and cold to reduce inflammation. Compartment syndrome is where a muscle is damaged, becomes inflamed and swollen and the tough outer covering of fascia (the capsule of the muscle) causes pressure from the swelling to increase to a painful level. The increased pressure within the muscle limits blood flow and healing can be severely impaired. Ice and deep sort tissue stretching can be used to reduce the swelling and stretch the capsule to aid healing. Don’t overdo the ice, it can cause damage – ice burns are not nice! 
 
C = Compression. Using a bandage or tubular support can both help to reduce swelling, for example in an injured knee, and also support to prevent re-injury of the damaged joint 
 
E = Elevation. Raising an injured arm or leg will prevent excessive swelling and aid blood flow. 
 
S = Strapping. Providing support by taping will allow more rapid return to activity minimising risk of further damage. Ankle ligament sprains can take six weeks to recover, but depending on severity, it may be possible to return to sport after a week or two with supportive strapping. The strapping tape does the job that would normally be done by the ligaments. If applied correctly taping allows movement in the ankle joint but prevents the ligament from overstretch. 
 
So to summarise: 
Prevent injury in the first place if you can – use the right kit, make sure you are fit enough for your level of sport and develop a warm-up / cool down regime. 
If you are injured get some expert advice and follow DRICES. 
Osteopathy & sports injuries
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