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Preventing and Treating Sports Injuries

Sports injuries are typically defined as injuries to the musculoskeletal system, including muscles, bones, and tissues such as ligaments, tendons and cartilage.

For many young athletes, the most common injuries occur due to acute trauma or overuse of a joint. Acute trauma is an injury that occurs due to force from a fall or tackle and is usually more easily identified when the injury occurs. There is immediate sharp pain and swelling and it usually leads to a trip to the Emergency room. Some examples of an acute trauma would be a sprain, ACL injury, or a fracture. Overuse injuries are usually harder to identify and take longer to diagnose and start treatment. The main complaint is a deep aching pain in the joint and its the surrounding tissues. Because there was no immediate mechanism of injury, athletes and coaches have a tendency to brush it off as muscle soreness and so the repeated stress to the joint and its surrounding tissue continues. This makes the athlete more prone to additional injury if not treated properly.

For young athletes an injury means time away from their sport of choice – potentially spending weeks sitting on the sidelines instead of being in the game. This can be frustrating and also a source of depression.

For adults, exercise is an important part of life in order to maintain or improve your overall health. You don’t have to be an athlete to suffer a sports injury. In fact, those individuals most susceptible to sports injuries are people who have just started exercising or do it on a recreational level; your typical weekend warrior. This occurs due to starting an intense exercise program too abruptly or increasing your level of exercise too quickly. And the joints and surrounding muscle tissue, tendons and ligaments aren’t prepared for the heavy load being exerted.

The most common sports injuries include:

Sprains: A sprain occurs when one or more of the ligaments supporting a joint are stretched or torn. Sprains are caused by trauma such as a fall or blow to the body that forces a joint beyond its normal range of motion. Ankles, knees, and wrists are most vulnerable to sprains, however, back, neck and shoulder sprains are very common as well.

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Strains: A strain refers to an injury of the muscle or its attaching tendon. Strains occur when excessive pressure is exuded on a muscle during activity.  For example, a muscle can be strained during heavy lifting, fast acceleration like when you are sprinting, or when pushing a muscle harder than it has worked before. A common example of a strain is a muscle spasm. Back and neck strains are common injuries treated in physical therapy.

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Knee pain and injuries: According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the knee is the most commonly injured joint. Orthopedic surgeons see more than 5.5 million people annually for knee pain and injuries, which can include runner’s knee (pain or tenderness close to the knee cap at the front side of the knee), tendinitis and iliotibial band syndrome (pain on the outer side of the knee). Severe knee injuries often include bone bruises or damage to the cartilage or ligaments.

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Shin splints:  Shin splints most commonly occur in runners and athletes that play a sport that requires a lot of running. They usually occur when an athlete starts a running or sprinting regimen without the proper warm up or pre-training. It is usually due to poor alignment of the body, or weakness in the leg muscles. When someone has shin splints. there is pain along the large bone in the front of the lower leg, known as the tibia or shin bone.

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Overuse Injuries: As we said above, overuse injuries occur over time, are the most common injury that occurs in young athletes and adults, and are usually the hardest to diagnose. Overuse injuries are the result of micro-trauma to the tendons, bones, and joints. Training errors are the most common cause of overuse injuries due to a too rapid increase in the intensity, duration, or frequency of exercise as well as poor technique when performing the exercise or activity. Shin splints, stress fractures, and tendonitis are common forms of overuse injuries.

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Proper training, good technique, as well as strengthening and stretching are the most important elements to preventing sports injuries. It’s important to work with trained professionals who are dedicated to making sure you are properly conditioned before starting  a sport or new exercise regimen. Our physical therapists have extensive experience working with different sports injuries and helping to train individuals and teams on how to prevent injuries.

At Loudoun Sports Therapy Center we staff skilled physical therapists and athletic trainers to ensure that you get the most up-to-date accurate information for sports injury prevention. Our staff can customize a personal sports injury prevention program for an athlete based on their personal needs. And they also work with sports teams to develop a strength and conditioning program that is sport specific to help teams prepare for their season. This helps to avoid  unnecessary injuries that can sideline players for weeks on end.  If you have an acute traumatic injury or an overuse injury, a visit to a physical therapist can help you recover quickly without the need for invasive surgeries or addictive medications. It will also help you avoid injury in the future with proper training. Even, if you have an old injury, it is important to have it evaluated by our physical therapists to prevent long term damage such as arthritis to your joints.

Call Loudoun Sports Therapy Center today. Our physical therapists can design a treatment program to promote your success in a sports or exercise program and also help minimize your chance of re-injury. Call 703-450-4300 today to learn more! Same day appointments available.

“Don’t let pain limit you. We Care. We Listen. We Get RESULTS!”