Sports injuries illustration (Dale Edwin Murray)Sports injuries illustration (Dale Edwin Murray) © Copyright

Common sports injuries

 Sports injury specialist Oli Jenner on tackling three common sports injuries: Runner's Knee, Sciatica, Swimmer's Shoulder

There is nothing worse than starting to make progress with your training, then picking up a niggle. You try to man up and shrug it off, but before you know it, you’re holed up on the sofa, struggling to move. Here is a brief oversight of the three most common injuries I see as a sports therapist, and how you can treat them yourself before you do any further damage. Just remember – if it persisits for more than two weeks, contact your local sports injury specialist for further advice.

// RUNNER’S KNEE (ILIOTIBIAL BAND SYNDROME) //

Diagnosis:
A lateral knee pain or pain in the outside of the knee-joint. The iliotibial band is a ligament that runs down the outside of the thigh. Dysfunction with this band can lead to inflammation when it passes over the bony protrusion on the outside of the knee. Pain normally starts five to ten minutes into your session and occurs when doing repetitive movements such as running or cycling.

Preventing it:
Limit building up the amount of mileage each week to no more than 20 per cent. Make sure you allow enough time between sessions to recover – ideally a day or two – and regularly use a foam roller to massage across the band to prevent any further inflammation.

Treating it:
The first thing to do is to reduce the amount of training you are doing. “No pain, No gain” is most definitely not the wisest motto to follow. Use the aforementioned massage protocol to ease any possible symptoms.

// SCIATICA (LOWER BACK PAIN) //

Diagnosis:
Sciatica is leg pain or lower back pain generally caused by a pinched or inflamed nerve in the lower back, which can be caused by a herniated disk. It usually manifests itself in patients as shooting pain down the length of one leg.

Preventing it:
If you are working at a desk, take a break every hour for two to three minutes, as this will take pressure away from the spine. Perform hip-opening exercises such as sitting on the floor cross-legged with your knees raised, then placing your hands around the bottom leg and gently pulling the leg up towards your chest. This should help to stretch the piriformis muscle, which will relax the pressure on the sciatic nerve.

Treating it:
The symptoms of sciatica normally clear up within six weeks. If you are suffering from sciatica, you can speed up your recovery by sitting on the floor with your knees raised. Then, place a spikey ball under the glutes on the side of the bad leg. Gently roll around on the ball until you find a tender area, then hold that position until the muscles start to relax around the ball. This will help to release any muscular trigger points that may have developed.

// SWIMMER’S SHOULDER (ROTATOR CUFF IMPINGEMENT SYNDROME) //

Diagnosis:
Your shoulder joint is a relatively complex joint in terms of planes of movement. Rotator cuff impingement occurs when the muscle tendons are intermittently trapped and compressed during movement. This results in a sore shoulder when you are moving it.

Preventing it:
Strengthening the rotator cuff muscles and stretching this area will help to lower the risk of shoulder impingement. These exercises are performed with the use of a theraband, at ten to 12 reps on each arm. Internal rotation: With the theraband on a fixed point such as a door handle, stand with your lifting arm closest to it, with your elbow flexed to 90-degrees. Rotate your hand from outside to inwards, bringing your hand towards your belly. External rotation: Switch positions so that your lifting arm is furthest from the theraband. Keep your elbow bent at 90-degrees and rotate your hand outwards from your abdomen.

Treating it:
For the first 􀀟􀀙48 hours, try to limit movement through the joint. After 􀀟􀀙48 hours, apply heat locally to the area in pain and gradually swing your arm back to increase the range of movement. Persist with this until full range of movement is achieved. When it is, use the strengthening exercises shown above.

Oli Jenner AST MSTA is a sports injury specialist, who helps athletes regain feel and improve physical function. 
T: @olijenner

Illustration: Dale Edwin Murray

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