Sports can be a fantastic means to keep fit, develop self-confidence, have fun and meet new friends.
Whether you’re a world-class professional athlete or a casual weekend warrior, chances are at some point in time you’ve suffered an injury. In fact, around 70 percent of all leisure players experience some kinds of pains, aches, or discomfort in their joints and muscles in the course of an event. If you participate in any type of sport frequently, it’s almost unavoidable that you’ll wind up hurting yourself over the course of your athletic activities.
That’s because the body is subject to constant wear and tear. When we carry out repeated motions or activities that our body is underprepared for, our muscles, tendons and joints can become tired and if they do not have adequate time to recover, this can lead to injury.
When we challenge our body through sport, our muscles respond by growing stronger. Our body is amazing at adapting to the stress we put on our bodies. Each time we work our body’s tissues hard, we create microtrauma in the tissues. The body recognizes this microtrauma and works to repair it back stronger than it was originally.
This is what allows us to build strong muscles, and healthy bones, tendons, ligaments and cartilage. An issue can come when we don’t give our bodies adequate rest and recovery. If we don’t allow our bodies time to heal and build from this microtrauma, then instead of building back stronger our body will have repeated microtrauma with inadequate healing. This can lead to an overuse injury such as tendinitis.
An injury will prevent you from participating in your best-loved sport, keep you from the courts or turf for a prolonged time period, or result in long-term repercussions like persistent pain or reduced range of movement. Additionally, if left with no treatment, these injuries can cause you other issues in the body in the future.
The upside is that a sports injury does not need to keep you off the playing field or out of your active life for long. Physiotherapy offers a wide range of effective treatments for lots of sports-related injuries and keeps them from becoming recurrent. Here are six ways physiotherapy may help treat your sports injury quicker:
1. Building Up Your Existing Muscles
You’ve probably heard this benefit previously. Every movement you carry out in your sport (such as tossing a baseball, running a race, or diving in swimming) needs a specific level of joint range of motion, joint stability and muscle strength in the muscles you use.
When it comes to tossing a ball, that includes the muscles in your shoulder, elbow, wrist, and hand. If you continue to use the same muscles over and over without strength training outside of your sport, you end up using your muscles to near maximal strength frequently.
This means they need a lot of rest and recovery time to build back up. With strength training, you are able to build your muscles to be stronger than their demand used in your sport. This reduces your risk of injury or re-injury as your muscles need less recovery and are less likely to be overloaded by your sport.
Being stronger means your tissues are better protected by your muscles as your muscles are better able to control your movement and reduce the stress on your tissues such as your ligaments, tendons, and joints. As we age our tissues do not recover as well and our recovery time lengthens. This can make a sports injury more likely.
Fortunately, you can help prevent injuries and maximize your performance on the field with the joint range of motion, joint stabilization and strengthening exercises your physiotherapist can show you. What’s more, strengthening your existing muscles can help to fix the discomfort, tightness and swelling that come with any sports injury.
Strength training can also prevent age-related muscle loss and significantly reduce risk of injury in all ages of athletes. Finally, strengthening your muscles will help you reach your fitness goals, improve your sports performance and put you back on the road to recovery.
2. Alleviate Tendinitis and Strain
A tendon is tissue that connects a muscle with a bone. When overuse of muscle occurs this can cause pain in the tendon, or ‘Tedonitis’. A strain is when an injury occurs to a muscle itself. Injury to a tendon or muscle occurs via the same mechanism discussed above, related to repeated microtrauma with not enough recovery.
Common Tendinopathies include: Tennis Elbow, Golfer’s Elbow, Achilles Tendiopothy and Patellar tendinopathy. Specific activities, such as running, jumping or throwing in sports such as basketball, soccer and tennis are especially likely to cause it.
If you struggle with tendinitis or a sprain, physiotherapy can help you recover from your injury more quickly. Physiotherapy can likewise help you protect against a strain or tendon injury from occurring in the future.
3. Cultivate New Movement and Conditioning Exercises
As you grow older, your muscles and joints normally become less flexible and recover more slowly. In addition, we lose our fast-twitch muscle fibers quicker, which makes us less able to react quickly to scenarios that occur in sports.
This is a natural process that occurs as we age, but could be more significant due to factors such as genetic makeup, past injuries, or an absence of frequent exercise. In addition, if you’ve been playing a sport for a long period of time, you might have developed structural imbalances that cause you to be more susceptible to injuries. For example, your shoulder muscles might be more powerful than your lower back muscles, which puts stress on the lower spinal column.
If you want to help prevent injury, you should attempt to cultivate new motion and strengthening workouts. Your physical therapist can show you the appropriate exercises to increase your flexibility, build normal joint stability, movement, strength and power and enjoy pain relief. Doing so can help heal an injury, decrease your risk of injury, enhance your flexibility, improve your total range of movement and increase your overall sport performance.
4. Improve Your Range of Movement
When you’re hurt, you often need to limit your activities and/or your range of movement. As a result, you risk suffering discomfort, tightness, and loss of mobility. Fortunately, as you heal, your joints and muscles recover their full range of movement. Depending on the severity of injury this typically takes anywhere from 2 weeks – 12 weeks.
To prevent injury and accelerate the recovery process, physiotherapy can administer therapies and workouts that improve your range of movement. Doing so can alleviate pain, increase your mobility, and help you return to your normal activities sooner.
5. Decrease Swelling and Stiffness
During the Initial phase of healing our tissues will go through what is called the ‘Inflammatory phase’ of healing. In this phase you may experience swelling, heat, and stiffness in your area of injury. Your physiotherapist can work with you to optimize this phase of healing and reduce long-term stiffness in the joint.
Depending on your injury your physiotherapist may educate you on a movement routine, bracing, elevation, compression, and icing and/or heating. Starting these routines early can optimize this phase of recovery and get you back to sport sooner.
6. Eliminate Recurring Strain Injuries
A recurring strain injury takes place when a previously small injury ends up being worsened as you return to a more intense level of activity without the proper recovery and regeneration. For example, if you have been playing basketball for a couple of weeks and you attempt to jump higher than you normally do, you might end up reinjuring your ankle.
Repetitive strain injuries can occur in any sport when the regular level of activity is increased, but they are most typical in sports that involve repetitive movements, such as weight training, baseball, soccer, football, and basketball.
Physiotherapy can eliminate stress injuries by re-aligning muscles and connective tissues, massaging out knots or pain points and increasing the blood flow to the afflicted part of your body.
Physiotherapy can really help with recovery from many sports injuries, including things like sprains, muscle strains, stress fractures, tendinitis, joint discomfort, and joint dislocation. With proper exercise training, you can reduce your risk of injuries occurring in the first place.
If you want to reduce the chance of injuries and increase your performance on the field or court, you should try physiotherapy. Physiotherapy can help you strengthen your existing muscles, deal with any muscle imbalances, manage your tendinitis or muscle strain, develop movement and strengthening routines, improve your range of motion, reduce inflammation and stiffness, and reduce your risk of sports-related injuries.
Our team of physiotherapists at Trimetrics Physiotherapy will develop a custom treatment plan to help you recover from your sports-related injury, or work with you to create an injury prevention plan for your sport. Give us a call and see. Now accepting new clients!