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Top 10 Most Common Sports Injuries and Treatment

Muscle Pull - Neck Strain - Frozen Shoulder - Lower Back - Tennis Elbow-Runner's Knee-Shin Splints-Sprained Ankle-Achilles Tendon-Foot Arch

The most common 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, 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.

Sports Related Injuries - Treatment and Prevention

1. Muscle Pull

A muscle pull, which 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 prior to any figorous activity and 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 more strenous activity slowly.

A muscle pulls when a sudden, severe force is applied to the muscle and the fibers are stretched beyond their capacity. If only some of the fibers tear, that is a muscle pull. If most of the fibers tear, that is a muscle tear.

Recommended Muscle Pull Treatment

Rest and apply ice, the ice relaxes the muscle and helps relieve any spasm. Ice should be applied for about 20 minutes on, then 20 minutes off, as much as possible for the first few days.

As soon as tolerable, begin gently stretching the muscle. A pulled muscle may go into spasm as a reaction to being overstretched. If the muscle fibers are not gradually re-lengthened, the muscle will pull again with return to activity because it will have healed in a shortened state. In general, you can return to action when the injured body part can be stretched without pain as far as the healthy one on the other side of the body. That may take a week for a calf muscle or more than a month for a hamstring pull.

1.(b) Muscle Cramps

A muscle cramp or "charley horse" 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 nighttime 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 atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) can cause a type of calf pain called claudication.

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 nighttime calf cramps should: Sleep on their sides,sleep with their toes pointed, 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.

In the past, salt tablets were recommended to prevent muscle cramps. However, salt tablets are not useful and should be avoided.

How is the condition diagnosed?

Common muscle cramps are easily recognized. They cause intense pain in the belly of the muscle. The pain may come on while exercising or at rest. It usually lasts seconds to minutes. The pain of claudication in the calf or buttucks comes on during physical activity, like walking up a hill, and goes away with rest.

What are the treatments for the condition?

The immediate treatment of a charley horse or muscle cramp is to stretch and gently massage the muscle. To stop a calf cramp: Grasp the muscle with one hand and pull back on the toes with the other. Point toes upward to help relieve the spasm. Walking may also help, especially if one walks with full weight on the heels. Use ice packs for severe cases. This reduces blood flow to the muscles and relaxes them. If exercising, drink water to prevent or correct dehydration.

If one has been exercising or playing sports for a long time, especially in hot weather, loss of minerals may cause muscle cramps. A sports drink may be helpful. Salt tablets should be avoided. Quinine may help reduce night time calf cramps, but its use should be discussed with a doctor.

What are the side effects of the treatments?

Most of the various treatments do not have side effects. Quinine can sometimes cause ringing in the ears, hearing problems, stomach upset and rarely more serious side effects, such as heart problems and deafness.

2. 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. The pain is on one side of the neck as the it 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.

Neck Pain Treatment and Rehabilitation

The treatment and remedy for neck stiffness is to apply ice for 20 minutes at a time and when you feel ready, slowly and gently stretch the neck from side to side, forward and aft, and in semi circular motions. These same stretching exercises can strengthen the neck and prevent severe pain and injuries.

3. 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 tendons to become inflamed and painful. Tennis players may experience the pain when they hit an overhead smash or serve. The same shoulder problems and pain can happen to golfers in both the backswing and the follow-through when their shoulders are above parallel to the ground.

Frozen Shoulder and Joint Pain Treatment

Many doctors overlook the true problem with a shoulder impingement. They treat the tendonitis and relted pain symptoms with anti-inflammatory drugs or corticosteroid injections. But the anti-inflammatories soon wear off, and the next time the shoulder is used, the tendon is stressed again. The shouder joint pain recurs, requiring another injection or more anti-inflammatories. The viceous cycle continues.

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.

4. 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 unpracticed sports activity. Strained Lower back injuries are primarily due to weak or tense muscles. Overloading weak or tense muscles may pull or tear fibers and tendons, sending the back muscles into spasm and causing back ache pain 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 strenght training exercises. An exercise ball, is an excellent and inexpensive tool for strengthening the core back and stomach muscles, while at the same time strectching the same muscles. The exercise ball can also be used anywhere. Overuse exercise with poor core muscle stregth can lead to severe and potentially chronic lower back pain problems.

Strained Lower Back Injury Treatment

Fortunately, most simple backaches go away within a few weeks, with or without treatment. After about a week, start a workout that strengthens the lower back, hamstring and abdominal muscles to help support the back to prevent any back pain from recurring.(Get an exercise ball)

While in therapy mode take two of Dr. Koch's Vitacel GH-7 Plus capsules daily on an empty stomach. The Vitacel supplements act as anti-inflamatories and help the body heal itself at the cellular level. When the back problem is normalised, continue your core muscle exercises and stretching.

5. Tennis Elbow- Tendonitus, Injury

Tennis elbow is really an 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, they become inflamed and Tedonitis 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.

Tennis Elbow, Symptoms Treatment and Exercises

The Tennis elbow has more to do with technique than prescription medicine. Tennis players need to learn how to move the feet to put the body in the proper position to hit with full body weight behind the ball. The proper body position takes the stress off the elbow as you use more arm and body strength in the tennis stroke and follow through. Golfers with chronic elbow problems should also consider taking a lesson to rectify smooth out any swing problems. If the bad technique is not rectified, chances are the tennis elbow injury problem may come back!

The following tennis elbow exercises can help improve forearm strength and prevent injury. These exercises include wrist curls, flexing the wrist forward while holding a light dumbbell at the side with the palm facing forward, and reverse wrist curls, the same exercise with the palm facing backward. Squeezing a soft rubber tennis ball until the hand is fatigued also strengthens the forearm muscles.

6. Runner's Knee Injury, Prevention and Treatment

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.

Runner's Knee Treatment Exercises and Prevention

Treatment, and how to prevent Runners knee, involves strengthening the quadriceps muscle, which hooks into the kneecap and helps align it into the center of the groove. Isometric exercises are recommended to begin strengthening the quadriceps by contracting and relaxing the muscle. Strengthening progresses to less than full range-of-motion leg extensions. Do not attempt full leg extensions with the knee bent because this will cause the kneecap to rub more and worsen the symptoms.

Treatment exercises also includes stretching the quadriceps, and soft tissue massage to work on the center of the quadriceps. Work from the upper part of the thigh towards the knee, stroking downward. This helps stretch muscle fibers and alleviates the muscle contraction, which is pulling the kneecap up.

7. Shin Splints prevention and Treatment

Saucony Shin splints are pains in the muscles near and around the shin bones. They are usually caused by running and jumping on hard surfaces or simply overuse. The are caused by 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 occurs on the inner side of the middle third of the shin bone. The muscle responsible for raising the arch of the foot attaches to the shin bone 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 fibers loose from the shin bone. This causes small areas of bleeding around the lining of the bone, and pain.

How to Treat and Prevent Shin Splints

The key element of treatment and prevention, is an arch support to prop up the foot and prevent excessive pronation pull on the tendons. A good simple commercial arch support should held. This usually solves the problem almost immediately. Others who have a more serious problem may need an orthotic device to control the pronation. To help prevent shin splints, start exercising slowly to warm up the leg muscles, wear athletic shoes with good arch support and run on a softer surface like grass or cross country running trails.

8. Sprained Twisted Ankle

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 immediatly 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 fibers 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 fibers 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 hair-line fracture.

Sprained Ankle Injury Treatment

The treatment for an any ankle sprain is Rest, Ice, Elevation and Compression. The goal is to limit internal bleeding and cut down on swelling.

As soon as tolerable, begin range-of-motion and strengthening exercises. These can help overcome stiffness and restore mobility. To do this, sit in a chair and cross the affected leg over the other leg at the knee. Using the big toe as a pointer, trace the capital letters of the alphabet from A to Z. Hold the big toe rigid so all the motion comes from the ankle. Repeat this exercise hourly, if possible. The letters will be very small at first but they will increase in size as range of motion improves. A good strengthening exercise is light kicking in a pool with a kick board or swim fin to create resistance.

Balance training is an important part of ankle injury rehabilitation. Practice balancing on one foot with the arms extended to the sides without swaying, first with the eyes open, then eyes closed.

It may help to wear a support or ankle brace as you are going through the healing process. This will help support the injured ankle tendons and muscles as they continue to heal.

9. Achilles Tendonitis 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 tendonitis, is an inflammation 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 center.

The pain symptoms of a torn Achilles tendon feels like a gunshot in the leg. A partial tear is harder to spot and symptoms may be more subtle.

How to Treat and Heal Achilles Tendonitis

The treatment is to minimize physical activity and any form of strenous exercises until it feels better to do so. Ice the effected Achilles tendon several times a day during the initial stages of treating the tendon. Anti-inflammatory agents help to relieve swelling and pain. After the initial resting and icing period, begin exercises to stretch the tendon with a toe raise exercise--stand on your toes for 10 seconds and then put your heels flat on the floor. Work up to doing three sets easily, then raise up on one foot at a time.

When the tendon has healed, do heel drops. Stand with your forefeet on a raised surface, such as the edge of a step. Let your heels down below the level of the surface so that the back of the calf is stretched. Hold for 10 seconds. Repeat until the calf is fatigued. Runners who put off resting and treating Achilles tendinitis can develop chronic symptoms that simply dont heal.

10. Foot Arch Pain and Strain

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 susceptable to foot injury. Runners are most susceptible, but almost any sport that keeps the athlete standing can lead to arch pain.

Foot Arch Pain and Strain Treatment

The treatment is to put an arch support under the foot immediately to prevent the arch from collapsing and the plantar fascia from stretching. Also, put an arch support in your slippers and wear them as soon as you rise. Even a few steps barefoot without support can stretch the plantar fascia. Arch supports usually relieve pain within a few days.

To head off arch pain, begin an exercise routine slowly, take off any excess weight and wear arch supports in your athletic shoes. Arch pain commonly lingers for months and may become chronic pain because people do not take the right preventitive measure. Continuing to do weight-bearing exercises will perpetuate the pain. While the foot is recovering, it's best to do low impact exercises, like swim or water exercise workouts. Or work the upper body only. Some people are able to use a stationary bicycle by placing only the front part of the foot on the pedals. Its important to give the foot arch time to fully heal before going back to more strenuous exercises and routines.

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