Injury SOS: what you should know about sports injuries
The downside of getting active
The term sports injury, in the broadest sense, refers to the kinds of injuries that most commonly occur during sports or exercise. Some sports injuries result from accidents; others are due to poor training practices, improper equipment, lack of conditioning, or insufficient warm-up and stretching.
Although virtually any part of your body can be injured during sports or exercise, the term is usually reserved for injuries that involve the musculoskeletal system, which includes the muscles, bones, ligaments and tendons.MOST SPORTS INJURIES
CAN BE PREVENTED IF
YOU TAKE PRECAUTIONS
Fortunately, even though there are acute or chronic cases, most sports injuries, especially those due to adaptational processes or instabilities, can be treated effectively, and mostly you will be able to return to your previous satisfying level of physical activity after an injury. Even better, many sports injuries can be prevented if you take the proper precautions. Please see: Prevention.
Common joint injuries
Joints can swell and suffer from inflammation and redness. They can become immobile, in which case your range of motion may be reduced. Typical joint injuries are knee and elbow injuries.
How do joint injuries occur?
Joint injuries are often seen after falling in contact sports, bicycle and car accidents.
Pain, stiffness, weakness, instability, swelling and locking may be symptoms of joint injuries.
Find out what to do about them here.
|Injuries||Symptoms||Steps you can take|
|Runner's knee, plica syndrome of the knee, torn rotator cuff (shoulder)||
Inflammation, redness, swelling, reduced range
Inflammation, swelling and redness can be reduced by cooling (RICER).
Braces help in cases of instability or too much joint play by improving coordination of joints and improving stability.
Knee joint stiffness and arthritis will be helped by heat therapy.
Common muscle and tendon injuries
Muscles and tendons (a tendon is the fibrous tissue that attaches muscle to bone in the human body) can become too weak which will lead to them not being able to stabilise the joints anymore. (This can quickly become a challenge for the joints which, in turn, might also, be affected.) Weak muscles will mean they will deliver less endurance and are more susceptible to injury.
When there is excessive stretching of a muscle or tendon resulting in pain, soreness and inability to use normally it’s called a strain. Signs of strain: pain, muscle contraction or tremor, and loss of strength.
How do muscle and tendon injuries occur?
Causes of strain are excessive use, pull or stretch of tissue affected. Strain may come about suddenly or develop from chronic use or overuse.
A typcial tendon injury is Tendovaginitis (inflammation of the sheath of the tendon) from overuse, or tendinitis.
Swelling, moderate hematoma, pain at weight bearing.
Find out what to do about them here.
A severe sprain might feel the same as a broken ankle.
Make sure that the sprain is examined and attended to by a doctor to rule out a fracture.
|Injuries||Symptoms||Steps you can take|
|Achilles tendonitis pain over tendon or tendovaginitis, shin splints (inflammation of the sheath of the tendon)||Pain, stiffness, pain with range of motion, weakness and no endurance, unstable joints as weak muscles cannot stabilise them anymore.
Acute muscle and tendon injuries can be treated with RICER: cooling with a cold
Chronic muscle injuries and stiffness can be treated with heat.
During rehabilitation phase:
Common ligament ijuries
Ligaments are the fibrous, slightly stretchy connective tissues that hold one bone to another in the body. Because their function is stabilising the joint so that the bones move in the proper alignment, they are highly susceptible to injury. They also control the range of motion of a joint. For example, they are what prevents your elbow from bending backwards and they also help to perform the complex coordinated activities needed for sport.
Ligaments are made of dense connective tissue consisting of a protein substance called collagen. The organisation of collagen fibres gives the ligament its tensile strength.
Another function of ligaments is to provide proprioceptive input to the brain that allows a person to know what position their joints are in, without having to look.
How do ligament injuries occur?
A great deal of force is required to damage ligaments. In a collision sport such as football, this is easily done by opposition players or when a player catches their foot in the turf and their whole body weight goes over on one joint. This force then produces the structural damage to the joint capsule and ligaments known as a ligament sprain.
The anterior cruciate ligament located behind the knee (often referred to as the ACL) is commonly damaged in rough sports.
Another commonly injured ligament is the anterior talofibular ligament in the ankle joint.
Knee ligament injuries are most common, often caused by:
• Twisting your knee
• Getting hit on the knee
• Extending the knee too far
• Jumping and landing on a flexed knee
• Stopping suddenly when running
• Suddenly shifting weight from one leg to the other
• Pain, often sudden and severe
• Loud pop or snap during the injury
• Feeling of looseness in the joint
• Inability to put weight on the point
Find out what to do here.
|Injuries||Symptoms||Steps you can take|
|Ankle: anterior cruciate or ACL, lateral collateral or LCL), wrist sprains, knee ligament injuries.||
Tender or slightly painful joint when weight is placed on it and swelling.
Sprains are characterised as mild, moderate or severe. The severity of the injury will depend on the extent of the injury (whether a tear is partial or complete) and the number of ligaments involved.
Torn ligaments are best treated with ice. Follow RICER.
If you have sprained an ankle, ease the weight you place on it. Ice the area for 10-15 minutes three or four times a day.
After RICER, compress the
All chronic insufficiency and ligament injuries due to instability can profit from braces.
Muscle tightness. Tight muscles are vulnerable to strain. Daily stretching exercises will reduce athletes’ risk of muscle tightness.
You are not in shape. Unexercised, weak muscles are less able to withstand the stress of exercise and are therefore more prone to injury. Do not exceed your limit when running. Take it slow.
Muscle imbalance. Is one muscle group much stronger than its opposing muscle group? Then this imbalance can lead to a strain. This frequently happens with the hamstring muscles, which may become fatigued faster than other stronger calf muscles.
Muscle fatigue. Fatigue reduces the energy-absorbing capabilities of muscles, making them more susceptible to injury.
Know-how: the RICER rule
The RICER rule – Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation, Referral – will help with sprains, minor bruises, muscle soreness, and painful movement.
What it is: RICER is the golden standard and recommended formula for recovering from injury.
What it does: RICER prevents further injury to the damaged body part, immediately after the injury. If applied right away and correctly, RICER can greatly reduce the recovery time.
Act fast. The most important time while treating acute sports injuries is the first 24 to 48 hours after they have occurred. Soft tissue damage happens, for example, when a muscle tears or blood vessels rupture, which will lead to the injured body part beginning to swell. The increase in blood volume in the area can lead to more swelling and oedema, which should be prevented.
RICER step by step:
This does not only refer to resting immediately after the injury, but also for a period of time following it. Talk to your doctor or physiotherapist about how long this should be.
Do not apply the cold pack directly to the skin, especially if the skin is grazed (also, do not use the cold spray), but wrap it in a towel and place it on the injured area. Leave it in place for approximately 15 to 20 minutes, not more. Then reapply after a few hours.
In lower limb injuries, you should try to keep the ankle above the level of the hip. Upper limb injuries can be elevated by use of a pillow or sling. For the first 48 hours, try to elevate the injured limb for as long as possible.
Referral. This stands for consulting your doctor or a physiotherapist. Only a specialist can make a precise diagnosis and arrange for ongoing care and treatment.
If you are unsure about the type of injury you might have, consult your doctor.
Please remember: the advice given on this page is no substitute for a medical examination and diagnosis.
How to prevent further injury:
Anyone who has been injured will know that the best cure is prevention. Make sure an old injury has completely recovered before working out again, and if needed, consult your doctor or physiotherapist first.
Tips for prevention
Warm up properly. Do not start cold. Do some simple muscular exercises after you have been running or exercising for a while and stretch your arms and legs until you loosen up.
Use the right equipment. Make sure your shoes are comfortable, fit well and you are wearing warm, dry clothing and well fitting socks. If you need protection, or if you have weak bones, make sure ankles and knees are well protected by tapes and bandages.
After an injury or during recovery. Do not do too much too soon. Pace yourself and build up your strength again slowly. If you feel a twinge of pain where you have been injured before, take a break.
Always give your muscles a chance to recover between workout sessions. Don‘t pack a week‘s worth of activity into a day or two. Try to maintain a moderate level of activity throughout the week.
Increase your exercise level gradually. Don’t overdo it when starting. Check out the concept of graded activity. Accept and respect your body‘s limits. You may not be able to perform at the same level you did 10 or 20 years ago. Modify your activities as necessary.
Remember to wear safety gear. Depending on the sport, this may mean knee or wrist pads or a helmet.
Strive for a total body workout of cardiovascular, strength training, and flexibility exercises. Cross-training, for example, reduces injury while promoting total fitness.
Hot or cold? The temperature treatment
Most commonly used for acute injuries. If you have a recent injury (within the last 48 hours) where swelling is a problem, you this is the first measure you should take: Cold packs can help minimize swelling around the injury.
Cold packs are often used after injuries such as an ankle sprain have occurred. Applying a cold pack early and often for the first 48 hours will help minimize swelling. Decreasing swelling around an injury will help to control the pain.
Cold treatments may also be used for chronic conditions, such as overuse injuries in athletes. In this case, cool the injured area after activity to help control inflammation. Never cool a chronic injury before activity.
Heat treatments are used for chronic conditions to help relax and loosen tissues, and to stimulate blood flow to the area.
Use heat treatment for chronic conditions, such as overuse injuries, before participating in activities.
Heating tissues can easily be accomplished using a heat pad, which will relieve pain and stiffness, help decrease muscle spasms and increase mobility.
Ice or heat?
|When to use it||Use ice after an acute injury, such as an ankle sprain, or after activities that irritate a chronic injury, such as shin splints.
||Use heat before activities that irritate chronic injuries such as muscle strains.
Heat can help loosen tissues and relax injured areas.
|How to do it||There are several ways to ice an injury. Cooling packs are one of the most convenient methods.
Also, a cooling spray, which you can easily put into your locker or sports bag will do the same job.
|Self-adhesive Therapeutic Heat pads are a convenient method. They will give off constant warmth at 40°C.
Apply to the injured area and leave on to relax tight muscles
for a maximum of 8 hours.
|For how long||Apply an ice treatment for no longer than 20 minutes at a time.
Too much ice can do harm – even cause frostbite. More ice does not mean more relief.
|It is not necessary to apply a heat treatment for more than about 20 minutes at a time.
Never apply heat while sleeping.
Making sure you take the right preventive measures is key to avoiding further sports injuries. Find out what you can do.
"Balancing between stretching and strengthening in your workout is the best you can do for your musculoskeletal system. Do not only train the things that come easily, as these are your predisposed strengths.“BALANCING YOUR
WORKOUT IS KEY
A person who is slender and very mobile should include strengthening exercises in their routines, and vice versa.”
Please note that none of the above tips replace professional medical advice. Consult a health expert in case of an injury or if you suspect overuse of joints or a medical condition such as a fracture.
A physician should be consulted in those acute cases when the condition is accompanied by reddening, swelling or hyperthermia of joints, ongoing joint trouble or severe pain and/or it is associated with neurological symptoms (e.g. numbness, tingling, loss of motion).
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