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Contact Me:
Tripti Gyan MCSP HCPC Reg
Chartered and State Registered Physiotherapist
Nottingham YMCA Health and Fitness
4 Shakespeare Street
Nottingham
NG1 4FG (map)

Tel: 07866 464 385 (Within the UK)
Tel: +44 (0) 7866 464 385(Outside the UK)

Email: tripti@triptigyan.com

The Athlete's Guide to Injury

It is rare for recreational or professional athletes to go through their career without injury. Torn rotator cuff muscles, plantar fasciitis, sore lower backs and ankle sprains are all too common among sportsmen and women committed to pushing themselves to and beyond their limits. But thanks to modern physiotherapy techniques and treatments, avoiding and recovering from injury isn't the challenge it once was.

painful sporting injuries

Two Types of Injuries

Injuries can be placed into two main categories: traumatic and insidious injuries.

An acute traumatic injury is easily pinpointed. An example of a traumatic injury would be a broken leg caused by a fall whilst skating, or an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tear caused by a football tackle.

Insidious injuries develop slowly over time. There is no one specific moment of injury. Instead they occur from constantly working, practising and competing with the body's biomechanical imbalances, which lead to increasing pain and discomfort over time. Examples of this type of injury include a tight hamstring rotating the pelvis to eventually cause back pain due to the ensuing torque, or tight chest muscles rounding the shoulders and initiating neck problems.

Tips to Avoid Injury

Tailored training plans: Have a physiotherapist assess your movement patterns. Once the physio has pinpointed the muscle imbalances he or she can put together a tailored exercise programme that strengthens your weak muscles and stretches your tight muscles.

Cross-train: Athletes spend many hours practising their individual sport with good reason. But constantly practising the same movement patterns will strengthen a few muscles and can leave the opposing muscle groups relatively weak by comparison. This is particularly true for endurance athletes like runners, swimmers or triathletes who run the risk of injury by focusing solely on cardiovascular work and neglecting strength training.

Rest: Everyone needs a period of time when the body is allowed to recover, especially athletes. Without adequate rest, overuse injuries - as well as symptoms of over-training such as exhaustion and depression - can occur. Try to have at least one full day off per week. Also, rotate through easy and hard weeks. Go for three weeks of hard training followed by one week of moderate training. In your moderate week, keep the intensity of your workouts but decrease the volume of your training by 30-40%.

Regular physiotherapy: As well as assessments and advice on training plans, manual therapy is a key service offered by physiotherapists. Sports massages carried out by qualified Physiotherapists aid recovery, reduce discomfort and keep muscles in good shape to avoid injury. Physios are also able to work specifically on smaller muscle groups, strengthening them to improve an individual's biomechanics. Like servicing and tuning a car, increasing the efficiency and reliability of an athlete's body serves to enhance performance.

Train the small muscles: The smaller stabilising muscles of the hip, knee, shoulder, neck and back are often ignored in training regimes. This is a mistake, particularly for serious athletes, as your body is only as strong as its weakest link.

Strengthen the core: People traditionally think of the core as the inner unit of stabilising muscles of the thorax and abdominal region. More recently, the rotator cuff muscles have been referred to as the "core" muscles of the shoulders, and the internal and external rotators as the "core" muscles of the hip. This is because these muscles, like the core muscles of the abdominals, provide postural support.

The first rule of rehabilitation

The biggest mistake athletes make after an injury is returning to regular training too soon and too quickly. Without proper rest injuries can easily be exacerbated. Work with a physiotherapist and use the injury as a learning opportunity. Identify any weaknesses that may be a limiting factor and use the recovery time to strengthen any weak links, embracing it as an opportunity to improve and become a more well-rounded, injury-free athlete.

Are you a sportsperson in need of sound sports-related advice? Contact a leading physiotherapist in Nottingham by calling TG Physiotherapy Care on 07866 464 385 and find out how we can help you become a better athlete.