Massage & Bodywork For Sports Injuries
What To Do If You Get A Sports Injury
The most sports related injuries are overuse and strain injuries. An overuse injury results from excessive wear
and tear on the body, particularly on areas and muscles subjected to repeated activity such as ankle, knee,
shoulder and elbow joints.
The most common high impact sport that leads to injury is running. Sports medicine experts report seeing more
runners than any other recreational athletes in their clinics, followed by those who participate in skate and snow
boarding, mountain biking, biathlon, dance (including high impact aerobics), tennis, skiing, basketball, gymnastics,
football, soccer and figure skating.
Certain types of injuries plague sports participants. Most of them, however, are minor. Knowing the early signs,
symptoms and what to do can help prevent them from becoming nagging chronic pain problems.
Muscle Pull A muscle pull can happen to almost any muscle in the body. No matter how you warm up and stretch,
or cool down and stretch, you may pull a muscle from strain, overuse, fatigue or taking a fall. To prevent a muscle
pull,stretch after a light warm up exercise and prior to any vigorous activity. Work your muscles on a regular routine.
Often people go too hard and too fast in their exercise or sports activities. Start slow and work your way up to a
higher intensity level gradually.
A muscle pulls when a sudden, severe force is applied to the muscle and the fibres are stretched beyond their
capacity. If only some of the fibres tear, that is a muscle pull. If most of the fibres tear, that is a muscle tear.
Muscle Cramps A muscle cramp is a painful, involuntary muscle contraction. Muscle cramps are also called
What are the signs and symptoms of the condition?The main symptom of a muscle cramp or spasm is pain in the
muscle. The muscle itself is tender to the touch. In most cases a person is unable to continue using the affected
muscle due to the pain. What are the causes and risks of the condition?
The exact cause of muscle cramps is not well understood. They can occur in any muscle at any time. Cramps occur
most often in the muscles of the leg or foot. They usually occur while playing sports, exercising, or lying in bed. The
calf muscle in the back of the lower leg is a common place for night time cramps. These often occur after
Tight muscles are more likely to cramp than flexible muscles that have been stretched. A low level of physical fitness
increases the risk of muscle cramps. Overexertion and muscle fatigue also contribute to cramping. Excess sweating
or dehydration can deplete minerals in the body. These minerals are important for good muscle function and include
sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus. Medications like diuretics or water pills can also lead to
cramping due to loss of sodium and potassium. Other situations can contribute to muscle cramping. A person with
one leg longer than the other is more likely to develop cramps. People, who run with too much rolling in of the foot or
too much rolling out of the foot, are more likely to get leg cramps. Wearing high heel shoes can also cause cramping.
A poor blood supply to leg muscles caused by smoking and arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) can cause a
type of calf pain called claudication (limping, lameness).
The common muscle cramp lasts a few seconds to minutes. It does not carry any risk of other long-term
What can be done to prevent the condition? Stretching the calf and other leg muscles improves flexibility. This reduces
the risk of cramps. Individuals who get night time calf cramps should: Sleep on their sides, not tuck in their blankets
and sheets too tightly. This can bend the toes down and cause a cramp. Eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables to
reduce the risk of mineral deficiencies. Drink plenty of water before, during and after exercise to prevent dehydration,
especially during hot weather, wear comfortable shoes with good arch support to helps prevent cramps.
Neck Strain and Pain A pulled muscle or a muscle spasm in the neck can happen when a tennis player looks up to
serve or hit an overhead smash, or you turn your head around to quickly. The pain is on one side of the neck as the
neck may be pulled over slightly to that side. It may be very painful to turn the head in the direction of the pain.
Cyclists and mountain bike riders may also feel neck stiffness. After long rides, the neck muscles may tighten up and
stiffen or the neck may go into spasms from this awkward position.
Rotator cuff Tendonopathy / Frozen Shoulder Injury The shoulder bones are held together by a group of muscles
known as the rotator cuff muscles. These shoulder muscles (supraspinatus, infraspinatus, subscapularis and
teres minor) are responsible for the shoulder's fine movements. Because of the shoulder's shallow socket and lack
of ligament strength, any weakness of the small, rotator cuff muscles makes it easy for the head of the shoulder to
slide around in the joint.
As the shoulder joint and muscles are over stressed with the arm in an overhead position, as it is in softball, tennis,
volleyball, swimming and weight training, the small rotator cuff muscles begin to stretch out and may cause joint pain,
Frozen Shoulder, and Arthritis, type symptoms or what is also referred to as frozen shoulder.
Frozen Shoulder causes the tendon, to become inflamed and painful. Restricting the range of movement of the shoulder
joint. If shoulder joint pain lasts longer than a few days after a sports activity or physical exertion, a program of
range-of-motion exercises can help strengthen the rotator cuff muscles. Strengthening these muscles will help hold
your shoulder firmly in place, then the head will not slip out of the socket and the tendons will no longer become
inflamed or irritated. A sports medicine regiment of physical therapy, ultrasound, moist heat and electrical muscle
stimulation followed by rehabilitative exercises may also be recommended.
Strained Lower Back Injury Almost all sports participants will experience a strained lower back injury at some point,
usually from twisting awkwardly to the right or left, lifting a heavy excessive weight or doing some unpractised sports
activity. Strained Lower back injuries are primarily due to weak or tense muscles. Overloading weak or tense muscles
may pull or tear fibres and tendons, sending the back muscles into spasm and causing back ache problems.
Often people will injure their lower back due to the fact that the core stomach and back muscle are weak and tense
from lack of proper core muscle strength training exercises. An exercise ball is an excellent and inexpensive tool for
strengthening the core back and stomach muscles, while at the same time stretching the same muscles. The exercise
ball can also be used anywhere. Overuse exercise with poor core muscle strength can lead to severe and potentially
chronic lower back pain problems.
Elbow Tendonopathy (Tennis Elbow), Injury Tennis elbow is really a strain/inflammation of the muscles and tendons
of the forearm. These muscles bend the wrist backward and cause the wrist to turn the palm face up. When the
muscles and tendons are overused, from playing sports such as tennis or Repetitive Strain Injury, they become
inflamed and Tendonopathy pain is felt.
Golfers may also suffer from tennis elbow symptoms and injury; a right-handed golfer will feel the pain in the left
elbow. Pulling the club through the swing with the left wrist causes irritation in the left elbow.
It is most often seen among golfers, baseball pitchers, tennis players who hit topspin forehands and weight lifters.
Also among office based persons working on a computer desk a lot.
Runner's Knee Injury, Patellar Tendonopathy The most common cause of knee pain is runner's knee. This problem
is due to misalignment of the kneecap in its groove. The kneecap normally goes up or down in the groove as the knee
flexes or straightens out. If the kneecap is misaligned, the kneecap pulls off to one side and rubs on the side of the
groove. This causes both the cartilage on the side of the groove and the cartilage on the back of the kneecap to wear
out. On occasion, fluid will build up and cause swelling symptoms and pain in the knee. Pain can develop around the
back of the kneecap or in the back of the knee after participating in any running sport. The uneven strength of
muscles like the Quadriceps and TFL (ITB) can cause incorrect patella tracking as mentioned above.
Iliotibial Band Syndrome, ITBS Marked by a sharp, burning knee or hip pain, ITBS is a very common running injury among
marathoners. Indeed, it's responsible for as many as 80% of all overuse pains on marathon day. The ITB is a ligament
that runs along the outside of the thigh -- from the top of the hip to the outside of the knee. It stabilizes the knee and
hip during running, but when it thickens and rubs over the bone, the area can become inflamed or the band itself may
become irritated -- causing pain. ITBS may be caused by running on a banked surface that causes the downhill leg
to bend slightly inward and stretches the band, inadequate warm-up or cool-down, running excessive distances,
increasing mileage too quickly or certain physical abnormalities.
The best stretch? Place the injured leg behind the good one. If the left side is sore, cross your left leg behind your right
one. Then lean away from the injured side toward your right side. There should be a table or chair that you can hold
onto for balance. Hold for 7 to 10 seconds and repeat on each side 7 to 10 times.
Shin Splints prevention and Treatment Shin splints are pains in the muscles near and around the shinbones. Running
and jumping on hard surfaces or simply overuse usually cause them. The are common in people unaccustomed to
exercise and training, although they can also plague experienced athletes who switch to lighter shoes, harder surfaces
or more concentrated running speed work.
The shin splint pain symptoms occur on the inner side of the shinbone. The muscle responsible for raising the arch of
the foot attaches to the shinbone at that spot. When the arch collapses with each foot strike, it pulls on the tendon that
comes from this muscle. With repeated stress, the arch begins to pull some of its muscle fibres loose from the shinbone.
This causes small areas of bleeding around the lining of the bone, and pain.
Sprained/Twisted Ankle, Anterolateral Ligament Tear The most common ankle sprain happens when the foot is twisted,
rolls to the outside and sprains the support ligaments on the outside of the ankle. The outside of the ankle immediately
begins swelling up and throbs with pain, and may turn black and blue around the swollen injury.
Sprained Ankles can occur with different severity;
1.Mild sprain, for example is when a jogger steps gently off a curb and "twists" an ankle, this simply stretches the
ligaments, with no real tearing, and is considered a mild sprain.
2. Moderate Sprain is when a tennis player lunges out over a poorly planted foot, partially tearing the fibres of the
ligament that is considered a moderate sprain.
3.Severe Sprain is when a volleyball player jumps and lands on another player's foot, twisting and forcing the ankle
violently to the court, most or all of the fibres tear, and this is a severe sprain.
If weight bearing is possible on the ankle after a sprain, the ankle probably is not broken. If you feel pain on the inside
of the ankle, then it should be x-rayed to rule out a hairline fracture.
Achilles Tendonopathy, Injury The Achilles heel tendon, in the back of the ankle is the largest tendon in the body. It
transfers the force of muscle contractions to lift the heel. Achilles tendonopathy is an inflammation/strain of the tendon,
usually due to overuse, such as frequent jumping in basketball or volleyball. The most common cause is excessive
pronation of the ankle and foot, which causes the Achilles tendon to pull off centre. The pain symptom of a torn
Achilles tendon feels like a gunshot in the leg. A partial tear is harder to spot and symptoms may be subtler.
Foot Arch Pain and Strain, Plantar Fasciitis The elastic covering on the sole of the foot--the plantar fascia--runs the
length of the foot and holds up the arch. When this shock-absorbing pad becomes inflamed, this is called plantar
fasciitis, causing a dull ache along the length of the arch. The plantar fascia strain and ache in the foot, is due to over-
stretching or partially tearing the arch pad. This happens most often to people with rigid, high arches. They feel the
pain when they put weight on their foot or when pushing off for the next stride. Pain is particularly intense upon arising
or after sitting for a long while.
Foot arch pain is particularly common among middle-aged people who have been sedentary and who suddenly increase
their level of physical activity and exercise, which makes them more susceptible to foot injury. Runners are most susceptible,
but almost any sport that keeps the athlete standing can lead to arch pain. Also common, when switching from high-heeled
shoes to flat shoes. As well as from wearing shoes regularly and then going barefoot.
The RICE Method
Rest - stop the injurious activity
Ice - apply ice for no longer than 7-10 minutes, then leave it off for 15-20 minutes and reapply as necessary for the first
48/72 hours after injury
Compression - apply a light compression bandage to help reduce the swelling and support a joint as necessary
Elevation - by keeping the injured area horizontal and not under gravitational pressure,
bleeding and swelling will be reduced
All of these should be done from time of injury and at least for 48 hours after. I recommend seeing a professional
to ensure that the best treatment is being followed for your injury. With correct treatment an injury's effects, time and
scarring can all be reduced considerably. Aiding you in returning to your love of activity with no apprehensions.
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