Preventing and Managing Injuries (Body Support)

Sports help keep our bodies fit and strong. It also gives us the feel-good factor. But, sometimes these benefits are outweighed by negative things such as an injury. The severity of these injuries can vary from minor to very serious injuries which require surgery to fully heal. These injuries may be caused by poor training practices, improper equipment, flawed techniques, or may just be an accident. In general, the more contact you have in a sport, the greater the risk of a traumatic injury. Most injuries in young athletes are due to overuse of their joints and muscles.

The more common sports injuries are as follows:

  • Strains and sprains

These are the most common type of sports injury by far and can occur in almost any type of physical activity. A sprain occurs when the ligament (connective tissue that connects bones to other bones) tears or overstretches. It can occur when a joint is forced beyond its normal anatomical limits, resulting in stretching or tearing of the ligaments, joint capsules or both. It commonly occurs in the wrists, ankles, and knees.

A strain is also known as a pulled muscle and occurs when the fibres within a muscle or tendon stretch too far or tear. It can be minor or severe too. It commonly occurs in the hand, thigh and calf muscle including quadriceps strain, hamstring strain, and bicep strain.

An ankle sprain is the most common injury among athletes. Ankle braces, also known as ankle guards are used by athletes to prevent ankles from injury. Wearing ankle brace is particularly beneficial if you have sprained your ankle in the past. There are three types of ankle brace; lace-up, post-injury, and rigid. Lace-up ankle brace has a semi-rigid structure which can be tightened up according to wearer’s comfort level. It is more flexible than post-injury and rigid ankle brace. Post-injury and rigid ankle brace have a rigid structure which is not intended to be used for the functional activity. Its rigid structure is used to push out swelling and to prevent inversion and eversion. However, prolonged use of ankle braces might reduce the range of ankle motion and subsequently will weaken your ankle.

  • Knee injuries

Every year, over five million people visit orthopaedic surgeons for knee-related injuries and problems. It can be mild or severe knee injuries. Severe knee injuries can involve damage or bruise to cartilage or ligaments. The four major ligaments in the knee that are commonly injured are the posterior cruciate ligament (PCL), medial collateral ligament (MCL), anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), and lateral collateral ligament (LCL).

There are several types of knee braces such as functional braces, knee sleeves, and rehabilitative braces. Functional braces give support to knees that have been injured in the past. Athletes often wear them after a major injury has healed. They are used to stabilize the knee and control motion to prevent another injury. Rehabilitative braces are usually used for a period of weeks right after an injury or surgery. They keep the knee stable but still allow limited movement. Knee sleeves are the most common type of knee support used widely nowadays. They are designed to provide compression around the knee joint. Thus, it can support the knee, control pain, and reduce swelling.

  • Shin Splints

An occurring pain along the shin bone (tibia). The pain usually occurs in the lower leg, but can also occur in the foot and ankle. Failing to warm up or stretching before exercise, improper running techniques, wearing improper shoes, or having flat feet are some of the causes. Shin splints often heal on their own. You may need X-rays or bone scans to look for fractures if the pain won’t disappear after 4 days.

Shin splints can be treated by taking anti-inflammatory painkillers like ibuprofen, naproxen, or aspirin. Besides that, usage of orthotic insoles in your shoes or neoprene sleeves might help reduce your shin splint pain. Orthotics insole won’t change the shape of your feet but may help relieve problems associated with flat feet. Wearing neoprene sleeves will keep your lower leg warm and provides compression which can reduce inflammation and improve blood flow.

  • Fractures

Commonly referred to as a broken bone which is caused by one-time injury to the bone (acute fracture). A stress fracture occurs most of the time in legs or feet from sports that cause repetitive impact such as running or jumping. If this condition remains untreated, minor bone fractures may lead to major or complete fractures.

  • Dislocation

These will occur when force pushes the bones in a joint out of alignment. It is also known as luxation. Playing  football, rugby, excessive stretching or falling can cause dislocation and requires medical treatment or minor surgery to put back the dislocated bone in place. But, the connective tissue surrounding the joint may have been severely damaged and will take some time to heal. Elbows, knees, and hips can be dislocated too but are less common than finger, hand, and shoulder. Sometimes, special imaging such as an MRI may be required to enable doctors to see exactly what is going on in the injured joint or bone.

  • Lower back pain

Lower back pain is less reported among athletes as compared to sedentary and overweight people. Improper stretching or warm up may cause lower back pain for some athletes. Sitting posture, traumatic injuries, falling, slipped disc, pregnancy, and sciatica (irritation of nerve) are the reasons that may cause lower back pain.

Lower back pain can be prevented with regular exercise, staying active, avoiding sitting for long periods of time and sleeping on a firm and comfortable mattress to support your back. Using a back support can help reduce your back pain and helps to correct your posture while sitting