Whether you are an elite athlete or a social player, osteopathy can help treat and prevent many sporting injuries. Most sports place an enormous amount of pressure on our joints, bones and muscles. Whilst our bodies do a great job in self-recovery, some strains and tensions can linger in our tissues which can impede our normal range of motion and affect performance. Our osteopath’s are trained to thoroughly assess, diagnose and treat all types of sporting injuries and will refer for further investigation when indicated.
The gentle approach of Cranial Osteopathy is great for all types of sporting injuries as minimal force is applied during treatments which means no excess strain is placed on your already fragile tissues.
Common injuries we see include:
- Sprains (ankle, knee, shoulder, neck, elbow, wrist)
- Muscle strains or tears (calf, hamstring, groin, quadriceps, biceps, rotator cuff)
- Tendon injuries (achilles, hamstring, rotator cuff, patella tracking disorder, plantar fasciitis)
- Tennis or golfers elbow
- Bursitis (hip, shoulder, elbow)
- Knee injuries (meniscal tear, ligament strain, runners knee)
- Overuse injuries
- Shin splints
- Compartment syndrome
- Stress fractures
- Osteitis pubis
- Post-concussion headaches
- Post-surgical rehabilitation
Acute & Chronic Injuries
Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation are all great in terms of initial first-aid that immediately follows the injury but it’s also important to see your osteopath as soon as possible so they can professionally assess your injury and manage your recovery. For both acute and chronic injuries, managing the pain, swelling and inflammation are essential in order to restore function. For chronic injuries it is also important to find the underlying cause of the injury so that it doesn’t re-occur in the future. Our osteopath’s are able to provide advice on appropriate exercise, posture, footwear and equipment to assist in your rehabilitation so you can get back to playing the sport you love.
An acute injury is a sudden injury that is normally associated with a traumatic event such as being knocked by another player, a sudden change of direction or a fall. Depending on the impact, this type of injury may result in broken bones or muscle and ligament tears. Often, the immediate response from the injured tissues is sharp pain, swelling, inflammation, bruising and loss of function in the affected area.
Chronic injuries are also know as overuse injuries as they are often caused by overuse of a particular body part. These injuries tend to develop slowly and stick around for a long time. Unlike acute injuries their symptoms are mild, subtle and often vague. Rather than feeling pain, many people will refer to these types of injuries as ‘discomfort’, ‘tightens’ or ‘small niggles’. Consequently many of us ignore these symptoms until the initial discomfort spreads to other areas of the body or develops into a a debilitating injury.
Overuse injuries are common when we begin a new exercise routine (trying to do too much too soon!) or when we are established in our routines but are performing too many repetitive tasks without adequate time for tissue repair (this is also known as overtraining). Common symptoms of chronic injuries include pain when you play, swelling following matches or exercise and a dull ache that is present when resting.
Children & Teenagers
Just like adults, children and teenagers are susceptible to acute and chronic injury through sport. The difference in children however, is that an injury to a muscle, bone or joint that is still maturing can affect the overall strength, balance and flexibility of their growing bodies. Talented young athletes are particularly vulnerable to overuse injuries through increased demands in training and competition. Schools, coaches and representative leagues can inadvertently over-play and over-train kids without fully understanding the risks involved with overloading young athletes.
Sometimes children’s muscles and bones can grow at an uneven rate, causing the tight muscles to pull on the attached bone leading pain and swelling which is exacerbated by exercise. Two of the most common conditions in this category are Osgood-Schlatters disease (which affects the knee) and Severs disease (which affects the heel).
Extra care needs to be taken with young bodies to ensure they achieve optimal growth and development. Our osteopath’s understand the needs of a growing body and have many years of experience working with children and sporting injuries. If your child is injured during a sporting match or is complaining of general aches or pains then it’s important to bring them in for a check up so that they can stay strong, healthy and happy for many years to come.
Some injuries are unavoidable, however there are a number strategies that we can use to decrease the likelihood of some injuries occurring during sport and exercise:
- Adequately address past injuries – The risk of sustaining an injury in the same area as where a previous injury occurred is very high. This is because most injuries are not fully rehabilitated. Once the pain has gone and we can return to our normal activities we tend to forget about our injury and move on but often we are left with deficits in strength, range of motion, muscle tone and balance that leave us vulnerable to subsequent injuries down the track. Getting these imbalances fixed can prevent unnecessary injuries from occurring in the future.
- Use appropriate equipment – Are your running shoes old? Is your bike set up properly? Do your shin guards fit correctly? Avoiding inappropriate equipment and using the appropriate equipment correctly is really important when it comes to injury prevention. Old, worn out equipment should be replaced with new equipment that is adequately fitted and suitable for your needs. Ill-fitting and inappropriate equipment can result in small biomechanical and postural changes that often lead to chronic injury.
- Start slow and increase your workload gradually – Going to hard, too fast is one of the most common causes of injury for all athletes. Starting a new sport can be exciting and invigorating but you need to give yourself time to gradually ease into things otherwise you may find your body is overloaded with stress and unable to handle the increased demands placed on it. Likewise, when it’s time to increase your workload, the same principle applies. Your bones, cartilage, ligaments and tendons need time to adapt to the new physical requirements.
- Warm Up and Cool Down – A warm up should increase your body temperature, elevate your heart rate, loosen your joints and muscles and stimulate your brain into activating the movement patterns needed for the activity you’re about to perform. A cool down can help your body transition from high-intensity activity to a comfortable resting state with activities that gradually lower your heart rate and stretch out muscles that have been worked on or held in sustained contractions.
- Stretch – Improving flexibility in your muscles and joints is just as important as building strength and control. Post-exercise stretching can helps restore your resting muscle length which decreases the load through your tendons which is important in preventing overuse injuries such as tendonopathy. Stretching should never be painful and stretching and injured muscle has the potential to cause further damage. Although there are many benefits associated with stretching there are also risks so it’s important that you have a discussion with your osteopath before starting any new stretches.
- Rest – Your body needs time to rest between exercising so that it has time to completely recover before more load is placed on it. Our bodies do most of our rest and recovery while we sleep so try to aim for at least 8 hours of good quality sleep each night.
- Fuel your body – Food provides the building blocks for a body that is fit, healthy and able to perform at its best. Think about the food you put in your mouth and whether it is the best option for your overall health. Natural foods such as vegetables, meats, fruits, nuts and seeds provide an abundance of nutrients that help our body perform at it’s peak and adequately recover from injury. Sugar and processed foods are highly inflammatory for your joints and muscles and are best avoided.