Dealing with an injury from your favorite sport?

If you play sports regularly the odds are you will get injured at some point.  What to do about your injury makes all the difference for your recovery and your continued strength and flexibility.  All too often athletes will sustain a serious injury and ‘tough it out’ to keep playing.  Yet giving proper time for the healing process can minimize later damage to your body.  Serious injuries will often create secondary tension and pain in your neck, back, knees, hips and shoulders later in life.  Just ask any 40 year old who played football in college or the big leagues.

For an acute injury you should see a chiropractor, MD or physical therapist to assess damage and give advice for proper healing.  Recurring chronic pain from an older injury is likely a biomechanical problem, and is most quickly addressed by a chiropractor.  Your body might have already healed the severe trauma, but still needs to loosen its protective hold so your body can function as a complete system.  With the right kind of care you can regain strength and flexibility and live free of pain again.

What causes Sports Injury?

Acute trauma – A recent direct injury while playing sports.

Chronic stress – Working out too hard, or repeatedly taking force in the same part of your body will leave you susceptible to injury.

Previous injuries – Compensation for injuries and muscles that have not fully regained strength and flexibility are prone to be re-injured.

Dehydration and fatigue – Staying hydrated and rested keeps your tissues resilient and your mind quick, minimizing both the extent and incidence of injury.

Lack of training or imbalanced work outs – Poor conditioning for certain parts of the body that take a heavy burden during sports, or undeveloped opposing stabilizers can create a weak link in your chain of strength.

Twisting – Twisting your body at the neck, torso, hips, knees or ankles means that less than half of your muscles and ligaments are available for stabilization and can cause serious injury.  A good strategy to avoid injury is to try to pivot more and keep your feet and your body facing the same direction.

Professional treatment for Sports Injuries

Chiropractors work with both acute and chronic injury to help you minimize pain during the healing process and restore proper biomechanics throughout the body.  For old injuries, if the joint is not destroyed, you have a good chance to restore fluid motion and remove pain and tension.

Physical Therapists and Exercise Therapists are effective in rehabilitating injuries.  They primarily use exercises and active therapy to stabilize the injured area and increase range of motion and decrease pain.  If pain is only reduced when you are doing the exercises, co-care with a chiropractor is suggested.

Massage Therapists are effective in relaxing tight muscles that are frozen or working overtime for other injured areas.  They also increase blood flow and relax tensions to help the healing process.

MDs may prescribe pain killers and rule out possible pathology. They may suggest rest, avoidance of painful activity, or surgery.

Self-Care Tips

You should always see a doctor when you have experienced a severe sports injury or when you feel acute pain for longer than a day.  Things you can do for mild injuries:

  • Acute Trauma:
    • Use the PRICE method.  Protect, Rest, Ice, Compress, Elevate, to reduce pain and inflammation.
    • Get a good night’s sleep, eat well, take vitamins, stay hydrated to promote healing.
    • Traumeel or other anti-inflammatory topical rubbed into the area can bring temporary relief.
    • Consider laying off of it tomorrow, and going slow to give yourself time to re-coup.
  • Chronic pain, or slow onset pain:
    • Work out with higher reps and lower weights to get motion and blood into the area.  If working out makes it worse, discontinue and see a doctor.
    • Try heat to relax the muscles and increase flexibility.
    • Try cross training and building up your core.

Online resources

National Library of Medicine National Institute of Health:

http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/sportsinjuries.html

http://www.niams.nih.gov/health_info/Sports_Injuries/default.asp

Sports Injury Clinic:

http://www.sportsinjuryclinic.net