Sports injuries: Working out safely
We all know that practising a sport is good for us. Unfortunately it does increase the risk for injuries. Did you know that each year at least one in 25 people must seek medical help for a sports injury?
The most common sports injuries
Sports injuries generally affect the joints (ankles, knees, wrists, elbows and shoulders, etc.) and the muscles. Causes vary and include: failure to warm up properly, excessive training or poor technique. Some injuries are the result of a person’s structural feature (e.g. flat or hollow feet, bowlegs or a misaligned spine or pelvis), causing other parts of the body to compensate. Here is a summary of the most common injuries:
A muscle stretched or contracted beyond its limit; partial or, in extreme cases, complete tear of the muscle.
Sprains and strains
A stretch or tear of one or more joint ligaments (ankle, knee, shoulder).
Inflammation of the tendon in one of the four muscle groups of the shoulder.
More commonly known as “tennis elbow,” an inflammation of the tendon located in the elbow’s extensor muscles.
Carpal tunnel syndrome
Pain caused by repetitive movements of the hands and wrists.
Low back pain
Injury to a muscle, tendon or ligament in the lower back caused by strain, unusual twisting or repetitive movement.
- Patellar femoral syndrome
Irritation of cartilages in the knee joint, between the knee cap and femur (thigh bone).
- Ilio-tibial band syndrome
Irritation and inflammation caused by repetitive flexion and extension of the knee.
Preventing sports injuries
To prevent injury, you must warm up adequately before exercising and stretch after exercise. This prepares your muscles and joints for working out. There are also other ways to prevent injuries, such as:
- Good technique (especially when running or playing racquet sports);
- Appropriate equipment (proper running shoes, bicycle helmet);
- Varying the type of exercises practised daily – from muscle training to “cardio,” for example.
Treating minor injuries
When you feel pain, stop exercising: continuing may make matters worse. If the pain persists, see a doctor. On the other hand, minor injuries can often be treated at home. When it comes to swelling and inflammation, use the R.I.C.E method:
- Rest – Stop training for one or two days to allow the affected area to heal.
- Ice – Apply a bag of ice to the injured part for 15-20 minutes, several times a day.
- Compression – For certain types of injuries, use an elastic bandage around the injured part to reduce swelling. Don’t hesitate to see a health professional, if needed.
- Elevation – Elevate the injured limb as much as possible; keep an injured leg above hip level and wrap an injured arm in a sling.
If you have questions about treating sports injuries, talk to your pharmacist. He’s there to help!
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