For several decades, it has been an established fact of life that physical activity in the form of sports or other recreational activities is essential to good physical and emotional health. Physical activity helps with weight loss, builds stronger muscles and bones and helps with brain health and memory, to quote just a few of the firmly established benefits. Inadequate physical activity, on the other hand, carries a host of health risks including obesity, hypertension, coronary heart disease, diabetes, certain cancers and even anxiety and depression. It is clear that pursuing at least a moderate level of physical activity is an essential component of attaining a satisfactory quality of life and enjoying good health for most of one’s life. Recognizing the economic benefits of a healthy population (less absenteeism, a more productive workforce and lower health care costs), government agencies (the US Health and Human Services Department, for example) have developed guidelines as to desirable levels of physical activity and continue to encourage and/or assist communities to develop programs and facilities to keep their residents physically active. However, with increasing levels of physical activity come the risks of incurring musculo-skeletal sports injuries of various types. This is where sports medicine products can play an important role
While these sports injuries are not life threatening in the way that the chronic diseases associated with activity tend to be, they can result in a short or long term interruption of a program of sporting or other recreational activity. In severe cases, they can also cause interruptions to the individual’s economic activity and thus to his or her earning power and standard of living. At remaininthe game.ca, our goal is to present you with information, strategies and products that will help you reduce your risk of experiencing these injuries, so that you can continue your physical and recreational programs with less down-time.
Here are some of the predominant sports and recreational activities pursued by North Americans, the most frequently experienced sports injuries and the therapies we offer here that can potentially address these injuries.
Sports Medicine Therapy Products- An Overview
Sports medicine therapy products are subdivided into several categories, with each capable of definition as being either preventative or treatment/rehabilitation oriented.
Bracing therapy relies on stabilizing an injured joint to allow it an opportunity to heal properly. In some cases (particularly with knee bracing products) these products will allow the patient to move the joint through an increasing range of motion as healing progresses.
Taping/Wrapping/Padding therapy uses either the application of tape to an injured area to promote the healing process or the introduction of padding or other (harder) protective equipment to protect against the consequences of impact from a ball, stick or other object that can cause injury.
Compression products can be used to reduce pain and swelling after an injury. Graduated compression products can also be useful to individuals with chronic circulatory conditions like lymphedema or varicose veins. These products apply compression to the legs in such a way as to push the blood through the veins back to the heart and help to prevent pooling of blood in the lower legs.
Another important category of sports medicine product – electrotherapy – relies on passing electrical signals through the body for both diagnostic imaging and the rehabilitation of atrophied muscles, among other purposes. These signals can also be used to reduce pain.
Hot & cold treatments rely on the body’s ability to utilize both high and low temperatures for therapeutic purposes, including reduction of bleeding or inflammation. Usually, cold treatments are most effective in the treatment of recently incurred acute injuries while heat treatments work best in treating chronic conditions.
Analgesics form an important category of sports medicine products that also have important application in the reduction of pin caused by chronic conditions like arthritis that may not necessarily be associated with athletic activity.
Finally, you can employ exercise rehabilitation to improve strength, flexibility and range of motion of injured joints or other areas during recovery from injury.
The above presents an overview of the key categories of sports medicine therapies. A summary of the main injuries associated with some popular sporting and recreational injuries follows.
Sports Injuries In Basketball
Basketball requires sharp changes in direction, sudden bursts of acceleration and frequent jumping. As such, it places significant stress on the foot and ankle joints. Rolled, stepped on or otherwise injured ankles represent a large percentage of the sports injuries experienced by basketball players. The use of appropriate footwear is a key part of avoiding these injuries but those who are prone to ankle sprains or other ankle injuries can choose to wear an ankle brace that will give the joint the additional support it requires. Alternatively, you may elect to tape your ankle before playing or practicing to get some additional protection. We can offer a range of ankle bracing or taping solutions (including adhesive, cohesive and kinesiology taping) as well as guidance to help you choose a solution that is best suited to your particular circumstances.
Other sports injuries that are likely to be experienced by basketball players include hip strains and bruises due to contact between players or over extension of muscles or ligaments. Knee injuries – mainly mild to moderate strains or sprains make up the third category of sports injury that players can experience. For these injuries, the appropriate choice of hip brace or knee support can be a key component of the treatment strategy, together with rest and exercise rehabilitation.
Hockey is a popular winter sport throughout North America and is definitely the leading winter sport in Canada. It is a fast paced sport that presents numerous opportunities for injury due to contat between players or between a player and goal posts, hockey sticks, pucks and even skate blades of other players. The injuries resulting from these collisions range from muscle strains and shoulder dislocation to concussions and broken collarbones. Other common injuries include tears and strains of the medial cruciate and anterior collateral (knee) ligaments.
As with all sports injuries, prevention is the best strategy. This will naturally include the use of an effective warm up and stretching routine before practice or competition. that done, however, since most hockey injuries are the result of sudden unexpected impacts between players or between a player and a hard object, the use of padding and protection equipment such as helmets and mouthguards is generally an effective prevention strategy.
In the immediate aftermath of an injury, trainers may employ therapies such as hold and cold treatments to reduce bleeding and/or inflammation. Topical analgesic preparations may be administered to reduce pain. To better understand the injury and develop a treatment strategy, therapists may make use of diagnostic imaging technology such as ultrasound. As the player enters the rehabilitation period of his/her recovery, exercise rehabilitation may be employed to help him/her recover strength and/or range of motion in injured joints or muscles and to ease the transition back to regular activity.
Sports Injuries In Lacrosse
Lacrosse is the official national summer sport of Canada and borrows elements of soccer, hockey and basketball. It is one of the fastest growing sports in North America and, like those sports, requires significant co-ordination and agility. Offensive players have to exhibit quick and explosive movements while defensively oriented players need to pay more attention to endurance and to run for extended periods. The sports injuries experienced by lacrosse players tend to flow from these demands of the sport.
Although there are elements common to each sport, lacrosse injuries differ significantly from those suffered by basketball players, both in nature and intensity. Head and face contusions and concussions are among the most common injuries in the sport, together with ankle and knee sprains. Other common injuries include wrist fractures, hip flexor strains and low back pain. Head and face injuries can be mitigated or avoided altogether by the use of a helmet. A significant part of reducing the risk of the other lacrosse injuries lies in proper physical conditioning, including during the off season. Further proactive measures are usually taken by the use of protective equipment such as helmets, mouthguards and both elbow and shoulder pads. Male players will also use protective equipment for the groin area.
For those players who do get injured, the use of sports medicine therapy products like back, ankle, knee and hip braces will give the support needed to allow the joint to heal fully. Shin splints are also an important category of bracing product used by lacrosse players.
Baseball injuries are dependent on the role played by the individual athlete. Most injuries are experienced by pitchers and take the form of shoulder injuries, of which the most common are oblique muscle strains, labral muscle tears, rotator cuff injuries and shoulder instability. Baseball pitchers can also fall victim to sprains of the elbow ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) or golfer’s elbow. Most of these injuries result from overuse of the elbow and/or shoulder joints due to excessive pitching. Commonly employed treatments for these sports injuries include the use of braces and supports as well as rest, cold therapy, compression and elevation of the affected area.
For baseball batters, hamstring and quadricep strains tend to be among the most frequent injuries as these athletes are frequently required to accelerate and decelerate sharply while running between bases Other vulnerable areas tend to be the calf and (as with pitchers) abdominal oblique muscles, where strains can occur. The calf muscles may be injured by the same rapid stops and starts that pose a risk to the quadriceps and hamstrings, while the obliques can be injured during power swings that require sharp rotation of the trunk. As with pitching, these injuries are usually treated with rest, ice and cold therapy
Many people would not expect to include gardening as an activity that carries risk of injury but in reality it can lead to as many injuries as many sports. Gardening requires prolonged periods of repetitive movements as well as of maintaining a constant position such as kneeling or bending over. These factors by themselves can result in many injuries similar to sports injuries that can befall an athlete. Typical gardening injuries include neck pain, shoulder tendonitis, lower back pain, lateral epicondylitis (also known as tennis elbow), Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, de Quervains and bursitis of the knee. In contract to the injuries that may occur in faster paced activities like hockey or basketball. gardening injuries are usually repetitive stress injuries rather than acute injuries.
The first line of defense against many of these injuries is to properly warm up before embarking on a stint of gardening, something many amateur gardeners omit to do, as they tend to view gardening as a purely recreational and fun filled activity instead of as one that can lead to injury. In addition, be sure to break up the various tasks in order to change position frequently and, when switching tasks, try to follow a period of light activity (weeding, for example) with something heavier such as bagging and moving gravel, or vice versa.
Should you be unfortunate enough to incur an injury, the recommended course of treatment may include rest, ice and the use of kinesiology taping to address repetitive stress injuries such as lower back pain, tennis elbow or Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Carpal Tunnel or de Quervains can also be addressed by wearing a suitably designed wrist or thumb brace that will keep the wrist and/or thumb in a stress free position that will avoid aggravating the condition and allow it to heal.