body protection

Body protection! Never miss a workout or a match again by following physio Simon Lack’s recovery and prevention tips.

Body protection: Tendon Pain

Cause

Tendon pain can occur under 2 separate guises and differentiating between them is critical for successful recovery. Tendonitis produces sharp pain that comes on quickly, is inflammatory and is caused by a bout of higher or harder activity than you’re used to. Tendonosis is degenerative, comes on gradually and can either produce sharp or achy pain. It’s caused by too much activity (overtraining) or a biomechanical fault.

Cure

With tendonitis, rest and ice is your best bet and the injury should settle down in a week or 2. If you have tendonosis, you need to consider your training volume carefully and the chances are a better balance between training and rest is advisable. Having your biomechanics examined, both in the upper and lower leg, can make the difference between the problem going for good or coming back further down the line. A sport-specific physiotherapist is the best option.

Prevention

A well-balanced training program that incorporates sufficient rest periods after tougher sessions can help prevent these painful afflictions. Simple steps such as having the right trainers can make the world of difference so getting your gait analysed is a smart idea.

 

Body prevention: Ligament sprain

Cause

A ligament sprain occurs when a joint is forced outside of its normal range of mobility.

Cure

Stabilising the joint as soon as possible is vital, along with RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation) to help minimise the extent of the injury. Get a good brace to support the joint for the first 4 weeks and aim to restore normal movement once the acute pain lessens and the swelling dies down. Expect it to be a good 4-6 weeks before the joint is feeling anywhere near normal again. 

Prevention

Strengthening the ligaments will reduce the chances of a recurrence. Incorporate some work on the Bosu ball into your sessions to improve the joint’s performance on an unstable surface, and keep your training as functional or sport-specific as possible to build strength where you need it.

 

Body protection: Shoulder Injury

Cause

The shoulder is vulnerable due to its huge range of motion and reliance on small muscles for stability. The most common cause of shoulder injuries is poor development of the rotator cuff muscles, but they can also be down to imbalances between muscles at the front and back of the shoulder.

Cure

RICE will limit the extent of the injury. Because the shoulder joint is so complicated it’s best to seek professional advice so you can identify the exact nature of the injury and pinpoint the best way to rehabilitate. 

Prevention

Poor posture – especially in the upper back – can lead to shoulder injuries, so keep your chin tucked in, your shoulderblades back and a neutral arch in your spine during all standing and seated exercises that involve the shoulders. Also ensure you work the muscles of your back and not just your chest, because unbalanced upper-body musculature can pull your shoulder girdle forward, leaving the rotator cuff in a position of weakness.

 

Body protection: Lower Back Pain

Cause

Lower back pain is most commonly caused by either carrying too much weight or not being in the correct position to manage the load safely. The lower back region is very robust, so problems typically result from lifting a weight with poor posture.

Cure

For acute pain, rest, ice and compression is the best strategy for the first 48 hours. Once the symptoms settle you can start building up your activity levels again as the pain allows. If they continue, though, see your doctor or a physiotherapist.

Prevention

Keeping your spine in its “neutral” position is the key to avoiding injury, especially during activities such as running or weightlifting in which a lot of weight moves through the region. A back that is overarched or overflexed will fail. Flexibility is often a restriction to maintaining a neutral arch in your spine, so it’s worth working on any tightness in your hamstrings, glutes and hip flexors.

 

Body protection: Muscle Tear

Cause

Put simply, if the force you put through a muscle exceeds its ability to absorb or dissipate it, it will tear. 

Cure

Acute muscle tears are extremely painful but respond well to good immediate management. The well-documented RICE strategy (Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation) works wonders for this type of injury by restricting blood flow to the region, which prevents further inflammation. Test the muscle after 48 hours under a low load, before gradually building up the amount of weight you ask it to bear. Good guidance is essential on getting back to your best so seek out a physio for a more detailed plan.

Prevention

A thorough warm-up is critical in avoiding torn muscles. Making the collagen within the muscle more flexible before loading will increase its ability to absorb force. You can achieve this through gentle exercise to increase your heart rate and dynamic stretching. Static stretching before exercise has been shown to weaken muscle fibres, which could increase the risk of injury.

 

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