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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 muscle spasms.

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 vigorous exercise.

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 medical problems.

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

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

- 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.

Barbara Potter
The Body Restoration Massage Group

Massage does not replace the need for medical attention or
psychological counseling. Massage therapists do not diagnose
medical conditions.