Restricted movement due to the UK lockdown has been mentally and physically challenging for most of us. The long-awaited news that the UK will begin a tentative roadmap to “normal life” is so exciting, and as you start preparing for gym sessions and sports workouts, we say, “easy does it and proceed carefully to avoid injury.”
Here we will examine some of the most common injuries that may occur whilst exercising or during any sporting activities.
A sprained ankle is an injury to ligaments surrounding and connecting bones from the leg to the foot. This typically happens when you twist or awkwardly turn the ankle. This stretches or tears the ligament tissue that holds the bones and joints in place and most commonly involves the ligaments on the ankle’s outer parts.
If you experience the following symptoms, it is most likely that you have an ankle sprain: swelling / bruising / tenderness / immobility around the area or you’re unable to bear weight on the ankle.
Some ankle sprains may require physiotherapy to help locate a slow recovery source and assist with long-term stability. Your physical therapist will examine any injuries and create a treatment plan that may include joint mobilisation and soft-based therapy. These therapies can lessen scar tissue, boost mobility, and reduce your recovery time.
Maintain muscle strength by stretching or performing ankle exercises. Always warm-up before participating in sports or engaging in any other type of physical activity. When walking or running on irregular or cracked surfaces, watch your step.
The shoulder has a broad and adaptable range of motion. If you’ve injured your shoulder, it reduces mobility and causes a lot of discomfort. One of the most regular injuries in the shoulder involves the tendons. Tendons are the ligaments that connect muscles to bone. Lifting your arm above your head may be painful or difficult if the tendons surrounding the rotator cuff are damaged or swollen.
The most obvious sign of a rotator cuff injury is pain on the top and side of your shoulder. The discomfort can be a dull general ache, or it can feel sudden and intense if injured in an accident. Other symptoms of a shoulder injury are:
- A clicking or grinding sound if you move your shoulder.
- Difficulty raising your arm, even slight elevation, is painful.
- The shoulder area may feel swollen, and a feeling of weakness in the area.
Research shows that the most beneficial treatment for this injury is exercise therapy and avoiding strenuous, repetitive movement in the shoulder area.
Your physiotherapist will show you some rotator cuff stretches and exercises you can do at home to support shoulder strength and movement. The type of exercise will depend on the extent of the injury.
If the treatments above do not help, you may need a steroid injection. This is injected into the area around your shoulder joint, which reduces swelling, decreases pain and joint stiffness. This course of treatment will relieve your symptoms and make your physiotherapy sessions more comfortable.
Shoulder injuries often improve without surgery. However, it is advised to avoid shoulder problems by frequent physical exercise and warm up correctly before lifting weights at the gym. Be aware of any slight pain or discomfort in your shoulder area; don’t ignore it and hope it will go away. As always, prevention is better than cure.
Knee pain mainly occurs if the ligaments in your knee are injured. Ligament bands in the knee connect the femur (thigh bone) to your tibia and fibula (lower leg) and keep the knee stable by supporting and holding the leg bones together.
Warning signs of an injured knee are rapid swelling / acute and severe pain in the knee region / a loud popping sensation in the knee / range of motion severely limited / unable to bear weight or significant instability when standing.
Massage therapists attempt to release structures around your knee that may intensify inflammation and pain. To reconstruct the knee joint’s integrity and balance, techniques such as effleurage, muscle stripping, cross-fibre friction, and compression methods are used.
- Take it slow when starting new exercise programs.
- Warm up by stretching your leg muscles before and after any exercise.
- Invest in good shoes that fit correctly and are suitable for the sport or exercise you are doing.
- Maintaining a healthy weight will reduce added stress on your knees.
The hamstring is a group of powerful muscles connected to the back of your thigh by a chain of tendons. The hamstring muscles allow you to move and bend your leg at the knee joint. A hamstring strain or injury can happen during activities like running, jumping or sudden jerky movements
This injury can affect one or more of the muscles in the hamstring muscle group. Symptoms will include:
- A sudden, sharp pain in the area.
- Swelling and tenderness.
- Bruising within a 24-hour time frame.
- Partial or complete weakness in the upper part of your leg.
- Difficulty bearing weight on the affected leg.
Massage can be beneficial for hamstring injuries. It can help loosen scar tissue and increase blood circulation, and this will improve muscle flexibility. In the case of severe injury, massage should be initially avoided as it increases the bleeding and prolongs the healing process.
Ideally, you should dedicate several minutes of static stretching before any activity to decrease your risk of a hamstring strain. This is especially important if you’ve had hamstring problems in the past. Warming up will make your blood circulate and increase your heart rate. Stretching should be done after exercise to help you cool down. Sitting with your back straight and your legs out in front of you is an excellent cooldown stretch. Reach down with both hands to your toes, hold for ten seconds, then release and repeat.
A groin strain occurs when the muscles of the inner thigh or front of the hip are overstretched or torn. Groin strains make it difficult and painful to walk, lift the knee, or move the leg away from or toward the body. Overuse or a sudden contraction of the muscles can cause groin strains.
Groin injuries are generally split into three categories: mild, moderate, and severe. Here are some signs and symptoms that this area has been injured:
- A snapping or popping sound, followed by extreme pain.
- Difficulty and pain when you attempt to raise your knees.
- Tenderness, swelling and pain in the groin and inside of your thigh.
Relaxation based sports massage helps increase range of motion and reduce muscle tightness to speed recovery. This prepares the muscles and allows them to return to their original state. Take it slow to avoid strains that may occur as you ease your way into activities, especially those of you that have a higher risk of reoccurrence.
Take care when exercising or doing any strenuous activities to avoid groin strains. If you’ve already had a groin strain or have muscle weakness in this area, this is especially important. It would help to improve your lower-body endurance and range of motion. Warm-ups and cooldowns should always be included in your workouts.
As long as your overall health hasn’t changed significantly, formulating a proper training regimen can allow you to regain lost strength and endurance even after a period of inactivity. However, pay attention to your body as you progress. The team at Total Physio look forward to seeing you again.