Welcome one and all to my 16th monthly column where I endeavour to answer your queries on a variety of aches, pains, restrictions and general concerns. This month I’m going to be discussing sports injuries. It’s that time of year again when the weekend sportsman jumps out of us and starts to demand more of our bodies. The weather is improving and we feel we should be out there, hitting a cricket ball for four, serving an ace, or rolling the first of the outdoor bowls down on one knee. This is a crucial time for the coming season, yes for good team results, but also for preparing our body for the rigours of sport.
Most injuries can be put down to 3 major causes; poor preparation, inadequate stretching, or just bad luck.
Poor Preparation: As a weekend sportsman myself I see many levels of preparation within a small group of people. Most of us begin our sporting careers in our teens, a time when muscles are supple, bones are very flexible and still growing, cartilage is thick and shiny, and work related idiosyncrasies are in the distant future. In short, you can get away with it! As your skeleton and muscles age you develop areas of weakness, which leave you prone to damage through these regions. Problems such as previous muscle tears, ligament sprains, and the fact that most people enter into relatively repetitive work patterns mean that the overall health of the musculo-skeletal system will diminish. In clinic, it is these idiosyncrasies that as an Osteopath I am trained to look out for and treat. To help limit the negative effects they have on your body whilst you exercise you must go through a gradual warm-up program to engage the muscles and joints that are normally left in a more dormant phase.
Inadequate Stretching: It is generally only wise to stretch muscles once they are warm, i.e. after exercising or at least warming up, as this prevents more severe muscle tears, tendon irritation and joint trauma. Specific areas on different people may need to hold more focus as posture and work can seriously alter individual morphology.
Bad Luck: No amount of warming up or stretching can prevent certain injuries, such as a sprained ankle due to an unexpected divot on the pitch, or broken bone due to trauma in a tackle. These are unlucky happens chance which should be dealt with correctly to prevent them becoming a future cause of something insidious and often more difficult to treat.
The important thing is to be aware that the longer an issue lasts the more impact it will have on the rest of your body, so the faster a condition is diagnosed and treated the better it is for the long term sports person in you.