How to identify a sports injury

Pulled muscle or pain worth panicking about? Sometimes, it can be tough to tell the difference between those dreaded DOMS and an actual injury, which is why we asked osteopath and Grenade® ambassador Adam Whatley to break it down for us.

"Whether you just take up mild exercise or whether you are a serious athlete, unfortunately, there is always a risk of injury that can seriously affect your training regime or put you out of your sport.

Sports injuries can affect people of all ages, despite what fitness levels are required of the individual, or of the sport. Injuries can range from mild to severe, and they can develop for many different reasons. Some common reasons include - improper training, over-training, poor techniques or accidental/trauma. Consequently, sports injuries can have a huge impact on your sport. If injuries are not dealt with fast or if the proper care has not been taken they can keep you out of your sport for weeks or even months, thus, having huge implications on fitness and function. What would like to stress the importance of is 3 things - catching the injury early preventative care & management, and preservation of joint health.

So, what are the most common forms of sports injuries?

Common shoulder injuries

Due to increasing functional demand, the shoulder joint has a vast range of motion, increasing the complexity. If your sport requires high amounts of repetitive overhead movements such as swimming or as in racket sports your shoulder can be vulnerable. Shoulder injuries are very common and injuries related to the shoulder tend to be more soft-tissue related injuries like muscle strains/tears and tendinitis. More complex shoulder injuries can involve cartilage and labrum (joint socket) issues. Some examples below:

- Shoulder tendinitis
- Rotator cuff tear
- Shoulder bursitis
- Shoulder impingement
- Labral tear
- Bicipital (bicep tendon)
- AC joint injury

Lower back pain/injury

Acute or chronic low back pain can hugely impact your sport and exercise, along with your quality of life. Back pain can show in many different forms and should to be dealt with immediately to enable fast recovery. No matter what your sport is, ongoing back pain can be detrimental. Again, back pain/injuries are very common in sport and are among the biggest overall complaint. With back pain, it is extremely important to identify what has predisposed the back complaint to prevent recurrence. Some examples include:

- Ligament sprain
- Facet joint inflammation
- Sciatica
- Disc injury
- Sacro-iliac joint pain (SIJ)

How to do stretching

Common knee injuries

Knee injuries are the most common form of sports injuries, and range from soft tissue injuries like - tendinitis (acute or chronic) to more complex injuries like aligament or cartilage tear. Some examples include:

- Patella tendinitis
- ACL tear
- Ilio-tibial band syndrome
- Knee bursitis
- Meniscus tear
- Patello-femoral pain syndrome
- Chondromalacia patella

Other common sports related injuries and conditions include:

- Golfers/tennis elbow
- Achilles tendinitis
- Plantar fasciitis
- Shin splints
- Hamstring strain/tendinitis
- Hip pain/hip flexor tendinitis
- Gluteal strain
- Wrist injury

In the majority of cases of mild forms of sports injuries, they can fortunately be dealt with easily and conveniently with proper self-care. In more chronic or severe cases, it is very important to take the necessary steps to identify the correct diagnosis to enable effective treatment.

What should I do immediately after  an acute sports injury?

RICE method:
Rest
Ice
Compression
Elevation

RICE should always be used following mild sports injuries. For best results, follow the RICE method within the first 24 to 36 hours after the injury. It can help reduce pain and inflammation/swelling. Over-the-counter medication may also be beneficial, like non-steroidal anti-inflammatories. If your sports injury looks or feels severe, or is ongoing it is always advised to get it looked at.

How to prevent injury

How can I prevent injury?

The best way to prevent a sports injury is by following a correct warm-up routine similar to the warm up link below, along with stretching muscles and joints frequently. Cold muscles are prone to overstretching and tears. Warm muscles have increased blood flow and increased flexibility that allow them to deal with increased loading and shock absorption.

Injury prevention tips

- Always adopt correct technique
- Use correct equipment
- Don’t overdo it
- Cool down from exercise
- Resume activity slowly

If you'd like more help and advice on how you can prevent a sports injury, head over to Adam's website, Dynamic Osteopaths, where he offers lots of tips and tricks on injury prevention and information on the treatments he offers.

You can also visit our blog for more training tips.