Solve your sports injuries
What it is:a swollen, bruised and very sore outer ankle, as a result of damage to the outer ligaments.
How it's caused:uneven terrain, poor technique and/or inappropriate footwear can all lead to the foot twisting underneath the ankle, overstretching and tearing the ligaments that support the ankle.
How to treat it:if you're hit with bone tenderness or difficulty bearing weight immediately after sustaining an injury, then get yourself to your GP. Otherwise, RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation) should reduce swelling and further bleeding within the ankle that causes the pain. As the ankle heals, physiotherapy and chiropractics can help stop long-term joint stiffness, whilst you can strengthen the ligaments with swimming and by balancing on one foot. "Use a wobble board or Wii Fit to make physio more interesting," suggests chiropractor Dr Matthew Bennett (sundialclinics.co.uk).
Lower back strain
What it is:overstretched or torn muscle fibres or locked joints in the lower back, causing aches, pain and spasms.
How it's caused:poor core strength and weakness in the lower-back muscles leave the back vulnerable to damage from twisting, stretching or overloading.
How to treat it: if pain persists for more than a fortnight, see your GP; most back pain will subside uneventfully in a week or two. If this is the case, then start working on exercises that improve strength in the lower back, abs and stretch the hamstrings. "Try to avoid bending forward and reaching to one side," advises Dr Nick Webborn, medical director of The Sussex Centre for Sport &ExerciseMedicineSportswise,"Thebackisparticularlysusceptibletodamagefromthisposition."Ifyou're still aching after a week of targeted exercises, go back top your GP, who will refer you to a physio, osteopath or a chiropractor, depending on your symptoms. The difference between the three practitioners is: osteopaths can use a combination of conventional medical or surgical, pharmaceutical and physical therapy. Chiropractors use primarily spinal manipulation. Physiotherapists generally use exercises and other physical treatments (sportswise.org.uk).
What it is:Overworked tendons causing pain in the outer elbow, particularly when grasping or lifting objects.
How it's caused:Overuse of the forearm muscles – often as a result of repetitive activities, such as tennis – leads to the development of small tears in the tendon attachment at the elbow.
How to treat it:Ice and an anti-inflammatory such as Ibuprofen will help reduce swelling and pain, but resting the injury is vital to allow the tendon to repair – so no squeezing in a few cheeky sets after work. Squeezing a stress ball and performing wrist curls with a light weight can also help strengthen the forearm muscles, to help recovery and prevent future damage.
What it is:Inflammation in the back of the kneecap resulting in pain and/or grating in the knee.
How it's caused:"There are a plethora of possible contributing factors," says Dr Bennett. "These could include nerve swelling, kneecap misalignment, thigh muscle imbalance, flattening of the foot arch and core instability. The most likely cause for the damage, however, is overuse – often due to running in insubstantial or old footwear." So now there's no excuse for running in trainers that could probably get up and walk themselves.
How to treat it:RICE and anti-inflammatory medication should reduce the swelling and alleviate the pain. Choosing supportive, well padded trainers and running on softer surfaces, or building some gentle cycling into your routine may stop future attacks. If pain persists then see a physio for exercises and/or a podiatrist for shoe inserts that help correct foot and leg alignment.
What it is:Damage to the rotator cuff (the muscles and tendons that stabilise the shoulder) and associated pain, weakness, and loss of movement in the shoulder.
How it's caused:Activities that require moving the arm over the head repeatedly, such as swimming, throwing or weight lifting, can cause inflammation and impingement of the tendons and sometimes tearing in the soft tissues and tendons of the shoulder.
How to treat it:Resting and reducing inflammation with ice and anti inflammatory drugs is the first step. Follow this with a course of physiotherapy or see a chiropractor to focus on reducing stiffness, improving movement, and correcting any muscle weaknesses. "Try scapular stabilising exercises such as Pilates to help improve the position of the shoulder," suggests Dr Webborn. If this conservative approach fails, then a cortisone injection or even surgery may be necessary.
Video: Common Sports Injuries: Hamstring Pull
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