See which are the most common injuries we see and the simple things you can do to avoid them.
Common injuries as a result of training
Back pain from spinal joint sprains and strains
There are hundreds of joints extending from your neck to tailbone and rib cage. Movements during training that overstretch or overload joints can cause joint sprains and strains. These are common and can range from the mild irritation to debilitating pain. Most patients can make a complete recovery from most these when treated. Untreated they could remain problematic for long periods or become areas of reoccurring injury and pain.
Pelvic (Sacroiliac) joint sprain and strain
Like spinal joints, the two large joints either side of your tail bone in your pelvis can be sprained or strained during training. The job of the sacroiliac joints can be very complex. They must bear weight and control movement at the same time.
Overuse injuries and tendonitis
As the name implies overuse and repetitive movements can cause injury almost any tendon. Repetitive use causes rubbing and irritation that can cause inflammation. In some cases this leads to bursitis which can easily become chronic. Tendonitis with bursitis almost always requires rest and treatment or rehabilitation.
Shoulder sprains and strains
The shoulder has a large range of motion but it generally not a very stable joint. This large range of motion makes it susceptible to chronic muscle strains, tendonitis’s, bursitis. These conditions in this area can often become chronic and can be difficult to manage.
These are a common traumatic sports injury. Rolling an ankle can be just bad luck but ankles need specific rehabilitation. Bad sprains can leave ankles week and susceptible to re-injury with simple activities. Many ankle strains over a period of time need specialized rehab.
Groin and hamstring strains
Are common sports complains and can often be the result of problems with form and technique. Tight and inflexible muscles, improper warm up can also be the cause. Overloaded weights training are another way these strains can occur.
Poor techniques, physical trauma and overstrain of muscles around the knee can lead to many different knee injuries. Some such as patella (knee cap) tracking disorders can respond well to rehabilitation. More severe knee injuries sometimes need surgery and extensive rehabilitation to return to exercise. Knee injuries need thorough examination and investigation to be property diagnosed and treated.
So to avoid many of these common injuries we have put together a list of our top tips for avoiding injury
Get professional advice
This is all about GOOD TECHNIQUE and knowing your body! As an Osteopath I have an excellent understanding of biomechanics – which is how your body moves. It is easy for an Osteopath to asses your movement and recommend what exercises are or maybe are not suitable for you to do and what are good alternatives. This combined with a trainer can put you in a good position to train in the safest way possible way. This is when you can gain great results from your training with less chance or getting injured. Knowing any limitations from previous injuries and concentrating on posture, technique and form. Getting advice from trainers no matter what your level is really important. Not only will this knowledge decrease your risk of injury but it also help you to simply focus on your training and getting results without getting injuries. As you increase distance or weight you should also always be striving for improvement in technique. Download your guide to Osteopathy for people who lift here
Don’t do too much too fast.
Most of the time training is challenging yourself and pushing yourself harder. No matter what the challenge you need to allow your body time to get used to new movements or increased demand. Building things up steadily will always give you the best chance of avoiding injury. People become disheartened when they don’t see results from training sessions quickly You would think this is most common to beginners but that is not always true. Sometimes more experienced exercisers misjudge where they are with strength and fitness. I often see very fit people underestimating the core strength required to get them to the next level in their training. Too much weight or distance too quickly can set you back severely. Overtraining and not allowing the body adequate rest periods can exhaust the body. Draining the body’s energy and not allowing time to recover and repair after can set you up for injury.
Most people are guilty of not doing this one at some point. Warm up exercises are usually done with the aim of increasing the blood flow to the muscles. The increased blood flow makes them more “pliable” and adaptable to exercise without injury. Warm up exercises are generally high-rep, low-intensity – a light jog, cycle etc. Lifting weights without a warm up is putting you at a much higher risk of injury no matter how fit you are.
Don’t ignore pain
If it hurts, STOP! Pushing through pain (especially sharp or pain you have not had before) is not good. Pushing through fatigue for resistance training is how you progress. After an intense weights session a stretch or a foam roller can ease minor soft tissue strains. A good trainer can help you identify the difference between pushing yourself to the next level and pain due to tissues being injured. I often see patients who have been pushing through the pain not realising the damage they are doing. Continuing training with tendon injuries can cause tendonitis that can be difficult to rehabilitate. It is a similar story for stress fractures. Often the body has been trying to tell them for quite sometime that it cannot deal with the loads being applied. These injuries are far more common than people realise. If identified early they have much better outcomes.
Ok so there’s lots of different schools of thought on this one. One minute it’s essential before and after all exercise. Next minute a researcher will claim there are no beneficial outcomes. What I do know from years of treating injuries is that not stretching at all will not help your performance. Not Stretching at all will probably put you at a much greater risk of hurting yourself. Properly performed, a stretch helps to elongate, increase circulation and warm up a muscle. Warmed up muscles are more pliable and ‘alert’. in my experience this makes it far more injury-resistant. Post exercise muscle soreness is reported less when muscles are stretched after a workout. Yep I’ve come across body builders that don’t stretch ….. like ever!! I often find not only do they have injuries but they can be very unbalanced with their strength and flexibility. They may be able to lift very heavy weights but some simple activities can easily cause strain in them. In my experience, the best performing bodies have a perfect combination of strength and flexibility. These bodies tend to recover well from injuries.
Ive seen countless people wanting to lose weight who consume too little or the wrong type of food. They continue to try to train hard and frequently. This is a great way to get injured. If you want to perform better or gain muscle bulk diet is important. Getting advice from a sports nutritionalist on what to eat is worthwhile. You need to provide your body with the best fuel possible if you want it to perform well. If you are doing resistance training you need to ‘feed’ your muscles. Optimal nutrition can feed your muscles and help them recover from a work-out. Read our article on how to stick to your fitness goals when you are injured Get the right advice from the beginning. Have a team around you to know exactly what your body can (and probably should not) do and how to do it correctly. At the first sign of injury get it assessed and treated. Follow the proper management from the beginning to avoid injuries setting you back.
My Big, Fat Disclaimer
There is no way I can know if this applies to you and your specific situation. How could I? I don’t know who you are … what your medical history is … what you do…. or how you use your body. This post, therefore, is in NO WAY a substitute for thorough diagnosis and assessment by a qualified health professional. If you’ve got pain then it’s my responsibility to recommend that you consult with a professional who is qualified to diagnose and treat pain … and someone, preferably, who knows and understands how you like to exercise and won’t just tell you to ‘stop it’ … especially when you might just be able to use it to get better!
Pain around the knee cap (Patellofemoral Joint Syndrome (PFJS) – Dr Jed Pullen – Associate Osteopath @ MOVE Osteopathy
In my experience the main cause of patella femoral joint syndrome is due to muscles that have become very tight combComments 0ined with a lack of adequate stretching, foam rolling or treatment. A change in shoes, type of training and surface you train on may also be the culprit. Tight muscles pull the patella, also known as the knee cap, so that it no longer slides and glides smoothly up and down when you bend and twist. Equally, weak glute muscles and a muscle located on the inside of your knee may be attributed to poor motion at the knee. Osteopathy can help to loosen off musculature around the knee and hip which contribute to pulling and poor movement patterns of the patella. Short exercises to help retrain muscles that, based on our assessment, are in need of more strength will also help to prevent further pain and recurrence of pain. If patellofemoral joint syndrome doesn’t get treated it is likely to persist for a long time as the causative factor hasn’t been address. If quickly addressed with treatment this pain may be resolved in 2-3 weeks. Cases that have been on and off for a long period of time often take longer. There are a number of things that you can do to help. Foam rolling through the ITB , the outside of the thigh, as well as the quadriceps and glutes are all going to help with releasing muscular tension. In the short term sports taping/ rocktape can help to ease the pain during activity. Applying ice after exercise is also important to help reduce inflammation in and around the knee. A short stint of consistent osteopathic treatment over 2-3 weeks, and then follow up treatments to help reduce likelihood of recurrence should see a significant improvement in the pain level experienced during exercise.
Shin splints occur when the muscles sitting either side of your shin (tibialis anterior and tibialis posterior) are being overused. This most often occurs when you rely on one of these muscles too heavily, usually from factors like running on hard or angled surfaces; increasing the distance, intensity or duration of your runs too soon; wearing unsuitable footwear; or poor biomechanics in the foot, ankle or knee which changes the loading patterns of the leg. If left untreated, this steady tightening can result in the tight muscle pulling so hard on its tendonous attachment to the tibia (shin) that the muscle starts tearing the outer soft-tissue layer of bone away from the bone itself. This is what we call shin splints. If you don’t remove the causative factor, the irritation will continue and usually the situation progressively worsens till running and walking induce severe pain in the lower leg. With rest alone, it may take many months to ease, but with appropriate care, that recovery time may be reduced to just a few weeks in mild cases. Self management like rest, ice, taping, self massage and stretching usually help, and when you couple these at-home strategies with patient specific advice and osteopathic techniques which will help to loosen the tight tibialis muscles, calm and stretch the irritated area, and correct the biomechanical imbalances in the surrounding joints, you’ll be back into training again in no time!
A hamstring strain is where the muscle tears, this can occur in varying degrees from a few muscle fibers to a complete tear. Excessive pressure on this muscle can cause the strain or it can occur when performing unaccustomed or repetitive activities. It is most generally a non-contact injury and is common among runners, or with sports involving kicking or jumping. Other causative factors include inadequate flexibility or strength of the hamstring, muscle fatigue, and insufficient warm up time. Depending of the severity of your muscle injury, healing time can take up to 18 weeks. Treatment for minor hamstring strains may resolve within 2-3 weeks if addressed promptly. Osteopathic treatment will speed recovery time and help to prevent recurrence of the injury. For recent injuries, ice for the first 24-48 hours to help reduce swelling to the area. Elevate the leg that is injured (if possible). Avoid any sudden or strenuous movements of the hamstring to protect it from further injury. Osteopathic treatment will focus on reducing inflammation to the area and maintaining range of motion. For a resolving muscle strain, heat can be applied now that there is no swelling. This will help the muscle start the healing process. You can do some self-massage to the area at home, this will encourage blood to the area to help recovery. Stretching daily, once injury resolved and pain free, is very important to avoid re-injuring this area, especially after exercising. Treatment will focus on regaining stability, strength and improving range of motion. In most cases muscle strains respond well to osteopathic treatment, for more complicated muscle injuries we can discuss referral to a GP for further investigation.
Ankle sprains – Dr Vincent Cahill – Senior Associate Osteopath @ MOVE Osteopathy
The most common ankle sprain is an inversion sprain where the ankle rolls out. This normally occurs when you step on something or fall over. There is three main ligament on the outside of the ankle that are affected when you roll your ankle. The damage done is categorised into the different grades:
Grade 1 strain: when there is some slight stretching and damage of the fibres of the ligament.
Grade 2 strain: is when there is a partial tear of the ligament which leads to some hypermobility of the ankle joint
Grade 3 strain is Complete tear or rupture of the ligament.
When an ankle is sprained it normally swells and a lot and is very painful for the first 24-48 hours. In this time it is really important to incorporate R.I.C.E (Rest: keeping off it as much as possible; Ice: 20 minutes on 20 minutes off, Compression: through a bandage, Elevation: Having the foot/leg raised onto something). Healing of ankles is in three stages:
Stage 1: includes resting, protecting the ankle and reducing the swelling of the ankle. This normally takes one week and will be greatly improved by Osteo treatment. Taping and bandaging can help to really protect the ankle in this stage.
Stage 2: Includes restoring range of motion, flexibility and strengthen. (1-2 weeks). Gentle non-weight bearing circles of the ankle and kicking in the pool can help in this stage.
Stage 3: Gradually increasing weight bearing activity to restore function. (weeks to months). Slow progression of weight bearing exercises.
Osteopaths can greatly increase the rate of healing of an ankle sprain and also correctly diagnose any issues that needed follow up scans or referral. Osteo’s would help decrease the inflammation around the joint in stage one of the healing and increase movement if any restrictions have occurred in stage two. It is also important for us to check the hips, pelvis and lower back to make sure that there isn’t any imbalances present form the injury or from the limping after the incident. Stage three is very important to make sure that this doesn’t become a chronic problem. An Osteopath would guide you with some strengthening and proprioceptive exercises to stop this happening. Including standing on the injured ankle with your eyes closed and heel raises on an uneven surface.
Weight training injuries – Dr Bridget Vinning – Associate Osteopath @ MOVE Osteopathy
The main cause of weight training injuries that I see walking through the door are those attributed to poor technique and weakness in gluteal and middle back muscles. For example, not activating your gluteal muscles effectively during a squat or dead lift can lead to overloading your lower back muscles and joints and/or having bad shoulder posture during any upper body exercise will often lead to overuse of the trapezius muscle causing neck pain and headaches. Osteopathy can help with weight training related injuries by identifying areas of weakness in your movement patterns and give you simply advice on how you might go about changing your current routine. Osteopathic treatment can help by releasing tension in muscles which are tight and being overused and ultimately restore full range of motion in your joints which may be restricted due to particular movement patterns your body has fallen in to. When it comes to time frame for recovery it is very dependant on what area of the body is injured and your ability to rest or at least alter what you are doing in the gym to avoid re-aggravation. I often advice my clients to seek advice from a personal trainer for a few sessions when they are starting something new and if they don’t follow this up on a regular basis at least check in every 4-6 weeks to see if your technique is as best as it can be. Your osteopath is also able to screen your shoulders/back/hips and provide information on areas that require stretching and those which need strengthening. Communication between your training professional and osteopath is very beneficial to all parties involved.
Elbow pain / Tennis & Golfer’s elbow – Dr Grant Sinclair – Associate Osteopathy @ MOVE Osteopathy
Elbow pain is a very common site of pain in the upper limb; your osteopath can help to differentiate where the pain is coming from and why it has occurred. Areas that are associated with lateral elbow pain can refer from other sites including the neck shoulder and wrist. Lateral epicondylitis (tennis elbow) and Medial epicondylitis (golfer elbow) occurs when the muscles in that elbow region become irritated and inflamed generally preceding repetitive strain during a certain action like repeated wrist extension against resistance, contrary to what the name suggests you do not necessarily need to play golf or tennis to develop epicondylitis’s. Osteopathy can be useful treatment option, by settling down the inflamed area by encouraging adequate circulation and lymphatic drainage of the area allowing the inflammatory process to take place for optimal healing of the irritated tissues. Your osteopath may use a variety of varying techniques ranging from stretching and soft tissue mobilization to dry needling, in combination with lifestyle advice to reduce causative factors along with specifically target exercise rehabilitation. Nobody wants to be out of action or in pain for any extended period of time longer then need be, generally epicondylitis is a self-limiting condition that without treatment can last anywhere from 6months to 2 years to recover, with osteopathic treatment you will tend to find that the initial painful episode can settle within 6-9 weeks if acted upon quickly, but will usually require ongoing care to prevent flair ups. In conjunction with osteopathic management supportive aids such as braces or taping maybe useful to reduce strain on inflamed tissues as well as avoiding aggravating factors such as heat or massage to the affected area as well as exercise that may stretch or irritate the area.
How can Acupuncture help with Sports injuries?
Nicholas Smith – acupuncturist @ MOVE Osteopathy Acupuncture is a useful tool in the management of many sports injuries. Whether it is an acute injury or a long-term condition which won’t go away, Acupuncture can help. One of the ways acupuncture helps, is by increasing blood flow to the area. Acupuncture can increase the flow of nutrients to the area, giving the body what it needs to heal itself. It also flushes out inflammatory mediators, the chemicals which sustain an inflammatory response long after it has outgrown its usefulness. This means Acupuncture can be useful in treating any condition where inflammation is a part of the cause, which is often the case with chronic conditions such as Plantar Fasciitis, Arthritis and Bursitis. Increased blood flow can also help with acute conditions like with sprains and strains. Inflammation can be reduced, and the increase in nutrients allows the tissues to heal themselves faster. This can lead to significantly reduced recovery time after injury.
Susan Maughan – Acupuncturist @ MOVE Osteopathy
Acupuncture assists the healing of acute and chronic sports related injuries by helping the body heal. Needles are placed right at the site of the problem and supporting points are put in other areas of the body to stimulate the body to release its own natural pain killers, natural anti-inflammatory and anti-stress hormones. This in turn will move the blood and qi in the affected area to:
Reduce pain, swelling and inflammation
Increase range of movement
Decrease muscle spasm and relax muscles
Help disperse oedema or swelling
Improve healing to reduce recovery time
Improve blood supply to deliver nutrients and remove toxins at the site of the injury.