Exercise is thought to be the most important determinant of an individuals health, however it comes with its risks. Whether you are an amateur or an elite athlete you are at risk of an exercise related injury. Here are my top 5 injuries associated with exercise.

1. Muscle Strains

A muscle strain is when fibres of the muscle cannot cope with the demands of exercise and some of these fibres become strained or even torn. Muscles strains can be graded dependant on severity. Common muscles that can become strained during exercise include the hamstrings, gastrocnemius (calf) and the quadriceps, they are more vulnerable because they cross two joints. Some common symptoms of a muscle strain include localised pain, a loss of strength, swelling, bruising. These symptoms are dependent on the severity of the muscle strain. The majority of strains are grade 1 which involve a small number of fibres being torn and this causes pain in the area of the muscle. Management of a muscle strain include the RICE principle to reduce the bleeding, swelling and inflammation in the area. Following this strengthening exercises, soft tissue therapy, electrotherapy and stretching will help the muscle to heal efficiently.

2. Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome

A common site of pain for those that exercise is the shin, commonly this pain is associated with the name shin splints. The pain is commonly felt along the medial border of the tibia. Quite often the individuals pain will decrease during their warm up therefore they can complete their training session, however the pain often comes back after exercise and is often worse the next morning. Medial tibial stress syndrome can occur due to a number of factors including: shoe design, faulty biomechanics, muscle fatigue/dysfunction and calf tightness. Common treatment methods for medial tibial stress syndrome should include rest and ice, deep tissue massage to the calf muscles, stretching and correction of footwear.

3. Rotator cuff tendinopathy

The rotator cuff is a group of four muscles that stabilise the shoulder (supraspinatus, infraspinatus, teres minor and subscapularis). A common injury to the rotator cuff is a tendinopathy which is where the tendons become swollen and disorganised causing weakness. Symptoms of a rotator cuff tendinopathy include pain during overhead activities such as swimming and throwing, there is also normally point tenderness along the supraspinatus tendon. Treatment of a rotator cuff tendinopathy initially should involve rest from any aggravating activity and the application of ice. The second part of treatment should be correction of abnormalities such as muscle weakness, muscle tightness and impaired scapulothoracic rhythm.

4. Sciatica

The term “sciatica” is used to describe pain that is caused by the irritation of the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve can become irritated for a number of reasons including muscle tightness. As the sciatic nerve is the longest nerve in the body there is a number of sites where pain may be felt. Symptoms of sciatic nerve pain include: numbness, tingling or pins and needles anywhere from your lower back to your toes. The pain can vary and some activities may not be affected but this varies between cases. Although sciatica can affect the back the common sites that athletes complain of pain is deep in the buttocks area and down the back of the leg. Treatment of sciatica involves spinal mobilisations, soft tissue therapy, stretching and neural stretching.

5. Plantar fasciitis

The plantar fascia is a thick band of tissue that runs along the bottom of your foot. Through overuse and activities that require maximum plantarflexion the tissue can become inflamed and painful at the heel. Symptoms of plantar fasciitis include a gradual onset of pain that is commonly felt at the heel, it tends to be worse in the morning and decreases with activity. As the condition worsens the pain may present during weight bearing and normal day to day activities. There may also be tenderness along the heel and tightness of the plantar fascia. The treatment of plantar fasciitis includes the avoidance of aggravating activities, stretching of the tissue and calf muscles, taping and soft tissue therapy to the plantar fascia and surrounding musculature.

Information about the author:

Lily Sivyer BSc (Hons) MSST – Sports Therapist

Hands On Sports Therapy
Havant PO9 1PW

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