Sports Injuries: A guide to Recovery

When you have sustained an injury, it can be a daunting time. You may be wondering what you have done and how you can best manage it to get back on your feet as quickly as possible and return to normal function. This is where Physiotherapy can help you.

We are qualified and highly experienced at the assessment of any musculoskeletal condition, the management for and the expertise to get you back to the highest level of function in a timely fashion.

During any acute injury, at the level of your tissues, there will be a level of disruption. Some of the tissues in the area, whether ligaments, tendons or muscles may have sustained a degree of tearing or compression. As a result, we experience pain and swelling local to the area of concern.

The best management for your acute injury at this stage is to cease participation immediately and to follow the following steps:

  1. Apply ice to the area. This may take form of an ice pack, a bag full of ice and water or melting an ice cube directly over the skin (but not over a wound). Apply the ice until the area feels very cold, but not painful;
  2. Apply some form of compression. If you have sustained an injury to your foot, it may be best to leave your shoe on to support the foot and to minimise the swelling. If you have a leg injury, then donning a pair of compression tights will assist you in relation to swelling;
  3. Keep the area elevated. If you have an injury to the hand, wrist, ankle or knee, elevating the limb above the level of the heart will help to reduce the swelling and fluid around the injured area; 1
  4. Avoid applying heat to the area. This will promote bleeding to the area, which in turn will increase the swelling and pain of the injury;
  5. Avoid running or excessive movement to the area. This will increase the blood flow to the area and increase the bleeding, pain and swelling;
  6. Do not consume alcohol. This will expand the blood vessels and lead to increased bleeding, that will slow down the injury process

It is important to follow these steps as soon as you have sustained your injury. The sooner you act, the higher the chance of enabling your body to move on to the next stage of healing. If you have great concerns about your injury, it is integral that you liaise with your Physiotherapist or Doctor as soon as possible.  If you require the fitting of crutches or a sling, general guidance and/or reassurance, it is crucial to make that phone call straight away.

If you have a deep skin tear, a gross deformity at the area of the injury, excessive and uncontrolled pain, it is critical to seek the medical attention at the Emergency Department of your nearest hospital.  You will be able to receive adequate pain relief, attention to any wounds and imaging, if required.

Once you have survived of the first 24 to 48 hours, it is important to meeting with your Physiotherapist. They will be able to assess you, determine the type and severity of the injury and devise an appropriate rehabilitation plan.

From this point, your Physiotherapist will seek to minimise the pain, swelling and inflammation of the area and commence work to restore normal movement. These factors will involve a combination of many treatment modalities including hands on treatment, taking you through certain movements and exercises, taping techniques or bandaging, fitting of a brace or walking aides, etc. You will also receive a program that you will be advised how often to partake in, to actively assist in the recovery process.

Any soft tissue injury can take a minimum (with minimal tissue disruption) of three weeks to recover and upwards of six weeks.  This will typically be the case if you have a very complex injury, or it involves structures that have a poor blood supply or under a great load in the body (such as the intra-vertebral discs or a nerve) 3. It is important to be aware of things that you can do to reduce the risk of delays or setbacks. During each of your consultations, your Physiotherapist will continue to progress your program, to put gradually increasing stress on the scar tissue that is healing, to help lengthen it and strengthen it.

When your body is ready, you will be given progressive exercises to help strengthen the area and the surrounding structures, to ensure your body is not compensating for the original injury. These compensatory strategies are an easy habit in which to fall, and can be very difficult to break.  Your body may have other mechanisms that require attention during your rehabilitation, such as your balance, or components of your balance.  You should be regularly taken through mini-assessments of each component that has been affected by the injury, to ensure there is reasonable progress and an adjustment of your exercises and home program to match accordingly.

During the recovery progress, your Physiotherapist will continually liaise with you, as to your goals for returning to particular levels of function, aspirations with your sporting, social and working environments.  They will also make recommendations for the steps you can take to reduce the chance of injuring yourself again.

If you would like more information, or have a question about your recovery, be sure to speak with your treating Physiotherapist today.

Written By Sophie Halsall-McLennan, Fresh Start Physiotherapy

  1. Website: https://www.ausport.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0005/380426/SP_32434_Incident_Management.pdf
  2. website: sma.org.au/resources-advice/injury-fact-sheets/soft-tissue-injuries
  3. website: highered.mheducation.com/sites/dl/free/0078022649/…/Prentice15e_Chap10.pdf

 

About The Author

Sophie Halsall-McLennan is the owner of Fresh Start Physiotherapy and has a special interest in Hand Therapy and Shoulder Rehabilitation.  She has a Bachelor of Physiotherapy from Charles Sturt University, over 13 years of clinical experience as a Physiotherapist and is registered with AHPRA. She is also a lecturer at Deakin University.

How To Stay Injury Free This Winter: The Runner’s Guide

Does the temperature have any bearing on whether/how to prepare for workouts or runs?

In the winter months, I recommend spending that little longer warming up and easing into your run. Injury risk increases when you go straight into a workout without preparation.

A 10 minute warm up is sufficient enough and will get the blood pumping to those muscles, as your body starts to generate heat the connective tissue around your joints will be able to tolerate the workout a lot better. Once your body is warm, I recommend stretching out any specific tight spots you may have before you begin your run. The best way to discover these discrepancies in the body is from warming up. Staying on top of those tight areas will help you be in tune with how your body responds to the strength and conditioning you are applying to it

Even though it is cold, don’t be fooled into thinking you don’t need to drink as much water as you would need to on a summer’s day.

Make sure you monitor your water intake the same way you would in those warmer seasons.

Appropriate clothing is a must. We are lucky that our climate in winter is fairly mild. However, a lot of heat can escape from our hands, feet and head. So you might need to have a look at your running wardrobe and update a few items.

Are there other seasonal hazards related to typical workout types in winter?

Your winter workout surface can most certainly be a potential contributor to injury. Unstable, slippery or hard surfaces can increase the risk of developing injuries such as, plantar fasciitis, shin splints and Achilles tendinopathies.

To avoid such injuries you may want to slightly adjust your expectations for speed and time, aim to run on days where the surfaces aren’t slippery from rain or dew, mix up your surface between the path and grass. And importantly ensure your cooldown is specific to your activity, for example in running a plantar fascia release with a firm tennis ball or lacrosse ball can help you stay on top reactive tightness development

Another surface that tends to get forgotten is the good ol’ treadmill. This is a popular choice for gym goers who still would like to do their running training when the weather isn’t cooperating.

When you think about it, the treadmill belt helps you run. It makes the running gait a little easier by assisting your hip extension (pulling your leg back). In turn, your glutes don’t get their regular workout they would on your favourite running track.

It is important to keep in the back of your mind if you have had to do a little more treadmill running training that usual, spend more time focusing on some isolated glute strengthening exercises like lunges, clams and sidelying hip abduction exercises. This will help prevent the stain on the knee when it is a sunny day and you hit the running track again after prolonged treadmill training.

Or maybe it’s a good time to spend time indoors fixing technique that may over time lead to injury.

I highly recommend including an indoor strengthening and stability regime to your running schedule that involves focusing on your gluteals, quadriceps, hamstrings and your core.

In practice, I see that there can be a common reason why athletes get injured. They neglect the rule of the Terrible Toos.

TOO MUCH – TOO FAST – TOO SOON

If you push yourself in these three, you will get injured. Simple

This can be especially relevant in the winter months as your body is working extra hard anyway to deal with the weather and any changes in the terrain.

Follow the 48 hour rule. Don’t ignore a niggle if it is lingering on for longer than 2 days

Delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) is a normal part of increasing our exercise regime and I think it is a nice friendly reminder that we are doing good for our body. However if you have pain or discomfort that doesn’t fall under the category of “good sore” then it is time to get help. If gentle stretching, adequate warm up/cool down, use of a foam roller (Figure 1) and rest don’t help it is vital to see a physiotherapist that has experience working with athletes and getting them back in their runners.

Image Source: Runner’s Goal

About the Author

Jennifer Dodge received her Bachelor of Physiotherapy from The University of Newcastle. Her combined interest in sports medicine and occupational health has enhanced her practice in the clinical setting, with elite athletes and contributed to the success of her business The Office Athlete. Jennifer is registered with AHPRA and HAAD, practicing in both Australia and The United Arab Emirates.

The featured image from this article was supplied by Runners World

How Do I Avoid Injury? Prevention Is Always Better Than A Cure

The new year has turned over and everyone is having a fresh start.

It’s the time of year most team sports are into pre-season training, new year resolution fitness regimes are taking off and excitement is high for new opportunity.

Players may be returning from long injury lay-offs, runners hitting the track following their Christmas holidays and of course cricket and tennis are in full swing.

This is also means it’s the time of year that a lot injuries occur!

Whether it’s an athlete returning to their sport or someone in the middle of a long season, I regularly get asked as a physio, ‘how do I best avoid injury’?

The answer to this involves a lot of factors but a great place to start is to identify your injury risks and preparing well for your sport.

Although accidents happen and we can never guarantee an injury won’t occur, what we do know is that different sports are more susceptible to different injuries due to their differing physical demands. For example, we tend to see overload injuries such as Achilles and Patella tendinopathies in runners and teenagers, shoulder impingements in swimmers, ankle sprains in jumping sports like basketball and netball, hamstring and groin strains in AFL footballers and of course the dreaded ACL injury with our Basketballers, Netballers and Footballers.

The good news is we know that the risk of a lot of these injuries occurring can be reduced by implementing preventative strengthening and improved neuromuscular control programs.
As mentioned above, a lot of sports are prone to the devastating ACL injury and given it’s long rehab and unfortunately low rate of return to previous level of sport amongst athletes who have undergone an ACL reconstruction, it’s become the ‘poster injury’ in sports medicine.

As research shows that 50%-70% of non-contact ACL injuries are preventable, this makes it a great example of how identifying your injury risks and implementing an injury prevention program can help you stay on the park longer.

If you’ve been listening to the news over the past few months or are just a keen sports fan you’d be well aware of the media attention and hype around the upcoming AFL Women’s, and also recently the Women’s Big Bash cricket taking off. You may have also heard or read about the conversation regarding the concern of a potential increased injury rate as these sports grow, and in particular, again, ACL injuries!

The reason for this concern is due to several reasons, as research has shown us who is most at risk and why.
We know through research that most at risk are girls aged between 14-18 and men aged 19-25, teenagers with recent growth spurts, previous ACL injury, athletes who are increasing their training load and the athlete who has increased their level of competition.

You can quickly see why these young girls, who are going from semi-professional footballers to elite AFL stars, are regarded as high risk for injuries!

Now although this attention has centred around our soon to be AFL idols, the caution for increased injury rates filters right down to our grassroots where participation numbers are on a rapid rise, particularly with our adolescent female footballers.

Continuing with our example of ACL risks, our research shows young females are at more risk of ACL injury compared to young males and this is thought to be due to a smaller attachment site of the ACL, increased hip angle which biomechanically increases loading through the knees and a decreased ratio of quads to hamstring strength. What this often results in is a decrease in control through the knee when jumping, landing, twisting and turning. The mechanism for ACL injury!

Now the point I’m making here isn’t that it’s all doom and gloom for adolescent female athletes, it’s how important efficient biomechanics and strong neuromuscular control are to avoid injury. Not just for ACL injury, but all injuries.

So what can we take away from this?

Whether you’re an elite athlete, weekend warrior or returning to the running track, we’re all susceptible to injuries but they can be prevented!

By identifying what injuries you’re likely to be exposed to and understanding your biomechanics, implementing an injury preventative program to improve biomechanics and neuromuscular control, you can reduce your chance of becoming another injury stat and improve performance.

Remember, Prevention is always better than a cure!

This post was written by Tristan Dower and originally appeared on vivaphysio.com

RISE: Our New Balance Rehabilitation Program

At Fresh Start Physiotherapy, we see all too often clients that present with injuries from falls, trips, stumbles and overbalancing.

As humans, if we experience something that shakes us up a bit, we have a tendency to lose confidence in our abilities and avoid tackling the problem head on.

Herein lies a problem.  If we become less mobile and less adventurous with our walking and daily activities, our body decreases its ability to respond the same way in those particular circumstances. We become less conditioned to moving, bending, twisting, balancing and our body’s response to overbalancing or a trip is significantly impaired.

The real question is “how do we fix this?”

Fresh Start Physiotherapy has a solution.

By becoming a participant in our program RISE, you will be taken through a series of tests to determine which of your body’s mechanisms are not responding at the optimum capacity in a 1:1 consultation. We can discuss your goals in relation to where you would like your body’s capacity to be.

Our program runs over a six week period, one hour per week for six consecutive weeks. The session involves two parts. Part 1 is a series of warm ups, balance exercises and stretches that are tailored to your individual needs over a 30 minute period.

Part 2 involves 30 minutes of education from a health care professional in relation to managing your balance issues with medications, footwear, set up of your home and others.

After your six week participation, we will take you through your initial tests and measure your improvement. You will then have the option to continue a further six weeks of progressed balance exercises to further improve your confidence and function.

Our goal is to restore your confidence in your body’s capabilities, reduce the fear of falling and get you back on your feet with a smile.

For more information, please make an appointment online by visiting freshstartphysio.com.au/book-now or call the clinic on (03) 4201 5074.

Visit Us

4 Percy Jones Court, Highton, 3216

Hours

Monday – Friday:  9am – 5pm


About Us


Sophie Halsall-McLennan is a mother of two, has a passion for rowing, skiing, classical ballet and spending time with her family.

Staying continually up-to-date with the latest evidence-based practice, including treatments and rehabilitation programs keeps Sophie at the forefront of Physiotherapy. With these skills and knowledge, she can equip her clients with the best available information and treatment.

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