Working out is a great way to take care of one’s health. It keeps one physically fit as well as mentally and emotionally balanced. There are many ways that one can choose to exercise depending on their physical requirements and comfort level, but no matter which type of exercise you choose, it is crucial to take special precautions against workout injuries.
Major or minor, every injury is painful and can set a person back. While the causes for the workout injury may vary, what is important is that every injury should be given timely care and treatment to avoid the condition from getting more serious. For somebody who is passionate about fitness, an injury setback can be quite a frustrating deal. But with proper treatment, the injury can heal quickly, letting the person get back to their workout routine as soon as possible.
Below are 25 common workout injuries that an individual can encounter, along with the treatment process and preventative measures that can be taken to avoid injuries.
Injury: Runner’s Knee
This is one of the most common injuries for runners. Irritation of the cartilage under the kneecap causes 40% of running injuries. Runner’s knee happens when the kneecap is out of alignment. Over a period of time the cartilage under the kneecap wears down, which causes pain when climbing up or down the stairs, squatting, or sitting with the knees bent for a long time. The pain experienced underneath the kneecap is also known as patellofemoral knee syndrome, and the pain can get worse with an increase in the intensity of the pain.
Treatment: As a short term remedy, people suffering with runner’s knee should hit the pause button on running to alleviate the pain. Putting an ice pack for 20-30 minutes in 3-4 hours interval for few days can help cut down the pain. Use patellar straps or an elastic bandage to give the knees extra support, and anti-inflammatory drugs like Advil, Aleve, and Motrin can take care of the pain and swelling. Individuals could also practice stretching and strengthening exercises for the hips, glutes, and quad muscles. Severe cases may need surgery to correct the position of the kneecap so that stress is distributed evenly.
Avoidance Tactics: Avoid putting excess weight on the knee, and avoid kneeling or squatting repeatedly. Keep the knee in an elevated position when sitting or lying down. Switching up the surfaces you run on, using short strides, wearing the proper footwear, and striking the ground directly underneath can help avoid this injury.
Injury: Shin Splints
This injury is common in runners but is also found in people who participate in running sports or jumping. It is an umbrella term that indicates various ailments involving pain in the shin area. It is characterized by inflammation of the muscle which causes pain along the inner edge of the shinbone. But in the worst case scenario it can turn into a stress fracture along the tibia, causing searing pain with every stride. This injury is commonly found among new runners and at the start of high school track or cross-country season. If the muscles surrounding the shin are tight, it puts more stress on the entire area.
Treatment: Doctors will take X-rays and bone scans to rule out any fracture. Icing the shin will help ease the pain. Painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs like Ibuprofen and Naproxen, or an aspirin also help relieve the pain and reduce swelling. Physical therapy is usually recommended to treat the issues in the legs and running mechanics that cause shin splints. In some rare, severe cases, surgery is needed to take care of the stress fracture that led to shin splints.
Avoidance Tactics: A sudden spike in the intensity and frequency of workouts is one of the greatest causes of shin splints. So, the frequency and intensity of the exercise should be increased gradually and methodically. New runners’ lower legs aren’t strong enough, so they need to develop a firm base before increasing mileage or introducing speed work. Always do warm-ups like jumping jacks to get the blood flowing and the muscles warm and ready, and also stretch the leg muscles after the workout. Wear proper footwear with good support and padding. If you are getting back to running after this injury, you need to ease back into it gently.
Injury: Achilles Tendinitis
Inflammation of the large tendon that attaches the calf to the back of the heel, the Achilles tendon, is called Achilles Tendinitis. This injury is characterized by pain and stiffness at the back of the lower leg, just above the heel at the Achilles tendon. Tight calves put a lot of strain on the Achilles tendon, and hard training over a period of time leads to this injury. Wrong, poorly supported footwear, or a sudden increase in volume and intensity of training also puts a lot of stress on that area, causing the same effect more quickly. Individuals with this injury often complain of sharp pain and swelling close to the heel.
Treatment: Individuals suffering from this injury should focus on strengthening the lower legs by doing exercises like calf raises, single-leg dead lifts, single-leg squats, and box jumps. Icing the area and taking aspirin or Ibuprofen helps with relieving the pain and decreasing the swelling. If done right, self-massage also aids in easing the pain. If the injury doesn’t respond to home-based treatment in two weeks, you need to consult a physical therapist or orthopedic surgeon. Surgery to scrape the scar tissue is employed as a last resort treatment.
Avoidance Tactics: Pay good attention to the footwear used for running, as the wrong choice of footwear can aggravate the injury. A dramatic and gradual increase in training, and incorporating exercises that strengthen the calf muscles into the workout routine will reduce the risk of this injury. Pay close attention to the training intensity and frequency. Don’t do too much or too quickly. Avoid weight bearing exercises and hill work.
Injury: Pulled Hamstring
This is quite a common injury among athletes, including runners. The hamstring is a group of four muscles that run along the back of the thigh which allows the leg to bend at the knee. When one or more of those muscles get overloaded it leads to hamstring strain, and the muscles are also likely to tear. If the strain is mild, the pain might be just bearable. But in certain cases the pain could be unbearable, making it nearly impossible to walk or even stand. Individuals could also experience a snapping or popping feeling while exercising. They also experience tenderness around that region and pain in the back of the thigh and lower buttock while walking, bending over, or straightening the leg.
Treatment: Ice the leg and use an elastic bandage around the leg to keep the swelling down. Anti-inflammatory drugs like Ibuprofen, Advil, Aleve, and Motrin give relief from pain and swelling. Ensure not to put any weight on the leg as much as possible, and keep the leg elevated while sitting or lying down. If the pain is severe, crutches may be recommended to ease the stress on the legs. You could also consult a physical therapist, who can recommend some strengthening exercises for the hamstring to protect against the strain. In cases of severe injury, surgery may be required to repair the muscles and reattach them.
Avoidance Tactics: Do warm-up exercises before and after running. Increase the intensity and volume gradually and in a systematic manner. Incorporate strengthening exercises for the leg muscles, especially the hamstrings as a preventive measure. Stop exercising if you feel any kind of pain. While healing the strain, work the hamstring with a new activity that won’t aggravate the strain, as pushing too much before a full recovery could re-injure the hamstring, leading to permanent muscle dysfunction.
Injury: Plantar Fasciitis
Plantar Fasciitis is inflammation of the bottom of the feet, and one of the peskiest problems that runners encounter. This condition is characterized by a sharp, tight painful sensation at the base of the heel like stepping on a nail. The pain can vary from moderate to excruciating. Over-training, overuse, and wrong choice of footwear can lead to this injury. The tight and weakened muscles in the foot cause the heels to take on an excessive load. Repeated strain can cause tiny tears in the ligament, causing weakness, pain, and inflammation.
Treatment: The treatment aims to relieve the pain and inflammation, heal the small tears in the ligament, and correct foot problems like excessive pronation, so that there is no stress on the plantar fascia ligament. Limit, and if possible, stop the daily activities causing heel pain, like running or walking on hard surfaces. Orthotics and shoes with good shock absorption and the right arch support for the feet help eliminate the symptoms in the short run. Rolling the foot on a golf ball, icing the injured area, and stretching and strengthening the calf muscles will help provide relief. Toe stretches, calf stretches, and towel stretches after getting up in the morning can help ease the pain.
Avoidance Tactics: Maintain a healthy weight for your height. Make sure to wear supportive shoes with good arch support and heel cushioning. Wear supportive shoes as soon as you get out of bed. Avoid being barefoot for long periods of time as it puts stress on the feet. Also alternate running with other sports that don’t put stress on the heels.
Injury: Iliotibial Band Syndrome
This is an overuse injury common among cyclists. This injury occurs when the ligament that runs along the outside of the thigh from the hip to the shin becomes tight and inflamed. Cycling causes a flare-up of this symptom due to incorrect cycling position or a saddle that is too tall. Pain is felt when bending and straightening the knee, and weakness is felt in hip abduction or moving the leg out sideways. Naturally wide or tight IT bands or poor foot bio-mechanics makes one more prone to this injury.
Treatment: Individuals with this syndrome need to give their body complete rest, as cycling with this syndrome will only make it worse. Icing the affected area during the injury alleviates pain and inflammation, and icing after exercise is a good way of ensuring the pain doesn’t return. Anti-inflammatory medicine like Ibuprofen provides relief from acute pain and swelling. Doing strengthening exercises to strengthen the tensor fasciae latae muscle and gluteus medius help reduce the friction on the IT band tendon at the knee. Sports massage by a professional therapist can help relax and loosen the tissues.
Avoidance Tactics: Bike set-up is the major key in avoiding this syndrome. Saddle height dictates knee position. The knee over-straightens if it is too high, or over bends if it is too low. The seat height should be such that your torso is in an ideal position, and you are able to reach the bar without being bunched up. Over training or increasing the mileage too quickly should be avoided.
Injury: Lower Back Pain
Long hours in an aggressive riding position, and the repeated and prolonged position are the major causes of lower back pain from cycling. The flexed position while cycling helps maintain a good aerodynamic performance and generate the force to pedal, this causes cyclists to suffer from lower back pain. Excessive flexion in the lumbar region of the spine can lead to herniated lumbar discs, nerve entrapment, and sciatica. The spinal column inserts into the pelvic bone, which means having weak muscles can prevent cyclists from generating the power needed from the core for aggressive riding positions. Hence, the supporting muscles are forced to compensate for the weakness leading to lower back pain.
Treatment: Treatment for this depends on the individual’s history and the severity of the pain. Putting a stop to all activities, especially cycling, will give time for the injured tissue and the nerve roots to begin healing, which in turn will relieve the back pain. Heat and/or ice packs give relief from the nagging pain and reduces inflammation. There are also many over-the-counter and prescription medicines available that help with the pain. There are medications that help with inflammation which causes pain, and some treatments inhibit the transmission of pain signals from reaching the brain. Exercising to build strength and flexibility, usually under the guidance of a trained physical therapist, is an essential element of any treatment plan.
Avoidance Tactics: A proper bike set-up is the most crucial aspect to avoid over-reaching if the frame is too large, or a hunched posture if the frame is too small. Watch the posture as slumping makes it harder to support the weight. Also, be extremely careful of the posture when lifting heavy objects. Do not bend over from the waist. Bend and straighten from the knees. A good core-strengthening exercise should be part of a cyclist’s regimen that will help them maintain riding positions for longer periods, while increasing balance and power.
Injury: Foot Numbness
Quite common among the athletes, foot numbness is a loss of feeling in the feet. It is mainly caused due to ill-fitting cycling shoes squeezing the metatarsal heads and cleats placed too far forward causing increased pressure around the ball of the foot. Cycling technique involving low cadence and excessive hill riding also causes this occurrence in cyclists. Damage, blockage, infection, or compression of a nerve that travels to the foot causes the numbness. The main symptom of this injury is loss of sensation in the foot along with additional symptoms like prickling, pins-and-needles, and a tingling sensation.
Treatment: Treatment for foot numbness depends on an accurate diagnosis and treatment of the underlying cause. Following a medically-supervised exercise routine can help with the numbness. Correctly fitting shoes will ensure proper flow of blood to the feet, thus preventing the numbness. Proper positioning of the cleats ensures the pressure is not focused on the balls of the feet. Gentle massage of the numb area and warming the feet will aid proper circulation, thus reducing the numbness. However, if numbness occurs frequently, you should consult a doctor to rule out any other underlying causes of pain.
Avoidance Tactics: Avoiding tight clothing and ill-fitting shoes while cycling will go a long way in preventing numbness. Ensure the cleats are properly positioned so that there isn’t excessive stress on the balls of the feet. Hill climbing involves excessive push phases of cycling, which increases the pressure on the feet, causing numbness. Hence, hill climbing should be tapered to alleviate the problem.
Injury: AC Joint Sprain
The Acromioclavicular (AC) joint is a part of the shoulder. which consists of the collarbone connecting to the front of the shoulder blade with strong ligaments. An injury to one of these ligaments causes AC joint sprain. The sprain ranges from very mild injury (grade 1) to a sever case (grade 6). Individuals will experience symptoms like pain right at the end of the collarbone, localized to a bony point on top of the shoulder. Usually a large force like a forceful fall or a monstrous dive into a pothole or off-road obstacle causes the connective tissue and ligaments of the AC joint to tear. The elbows and wrists are generally locked in position when holding the handlebars on a bike. So, when a large force is applied while cycling, these forces are transferred up to the shoulder joint.
Treatment: Applying ice or cold therapy and compression wrap immediately to the affected area will reduce the pain and swelling. A doctor may prescribe Ibuprofen to take care of the pain and inflammation. AC joint taping fixes and supports the joint into the correct position to assist the healing process. The taping may be needed for 2-3 weeks. Once the pain subsides, exercises specifically recommended for this injury should be followed. Grade 4, 5, and 6 may not respond to treatment and may require surgery. If an AC joint sprain doesn’t heal adequately, it may require pharmaceutical intervention, corticosteroid injection, or a review by a specialist who can advise on the optimal procedure to treat the injury, which might also include surgery.
Avoidance Tactics: The basic preventive method for an AC joint sprain is to avoid falling. This joint is vulnerable to injury during falls. The shoulder needs complete rest, so wear a sling that will immobilize the shoulder and ease the pain by taking the weight off the arm. In case of bumps, potholes, or any other obstacle, use the elbows as a shock absorber while biking. Since the sprains have varying degrees, the severity of the injury dictates the rehab procedure.
Injury: Saddle Sores
For majority of the cyclists out there, especially the ones competing in cycling competitions, saddle sore is a common occurrence. It generally refers to problems occurring in the area where the cycling shorts’ chamois contacts the body due to friction from the saddle. A saddle sore is essentially a tender spot that is usually raised, pink, or red in the area that rubs against the saddle. For a lot of cyclists, the sore looks like a pimple or an ingrown hair. These sores can hurt really bad, which makes riding a very painful experience.
Treatment: Once you get saddle sores, the best remedy is to stay off the bike for few days. The delicate skin needs time to heal without being subjected to more friction and sweat. A cool bath with Epsom salts speeds up the healing process. Once the area has been cleaned, apply tea tree oil to the affected area using cotton swabs, followed by Vaseline. A few days off the bike should calm down the inflamed area, but if it keeps coming back, it is time to see a dermatologist to see if there is any underlying problem. Sometimes if the skin breaks, bacteria gets inside, which could infect the sore. In this case antibiotics might be prescribed.
Avoidance Tactics: The two keywords for prevention is to keep everything clean and dry. Keep the area clean by taking a cold shower and allowing the area to air out completely. Lowering the saddle prevents side-to-side motion of the pelvis, which can cause friction against the seat. Find saddle shorts that work for you, and always wear clean shorts. Increase the distance biked gradually, and also use chamois cream to reduce friction and ease the discomfort of the skin rubbing against the saddle.
Injury: Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
This syndrome occurs as a result of a combination of health conditions and activities that put pressure on the median nerve as it passes through the carpal tunnel in the wrist, and this pressure leads to the various symptoms. Gym activities like push-ups, plank pose, and other exercises that involve bending the wrist forward or backward excessively decreases the amount of space in the carpal tunnel, increases the amount of tissue in the tunnel, or increases the sensitivity of the median nerve. Repeated hand and wrist movements cause the membranes surrounding the tendons to swell. Even broken wrist bones, dislocated bones, or bone spurs take up space in the carpal tunnel, putting more pressure on the median nerve.
Treatment: The goal of the treatment is to allow the individuals to prevent nerve damage and loss of muscle strength in the fingers and hands, which will enable the individual to resume normal activities. Wear a wrist splint and avoid or change up the activities, especially the gym routines. Anti-inflammatory drugs, and in some cases, oral corticosteroids or injections are also prescribed. A carpal tunnel syndrome surgery is also recommended when other treatments fail, or if the condition persists for a long time, leading to nerve damage.
Avoidance Tactics: Avoid exercises like push-ups and planks that involve excessive bending of the wrist. Use hand and wrist movements that spread the pressure and motion evenly. Switch hands and positions often when doing repeated motions. Use correct posture, and reduce the salt intake that leads to fluid retention. Staying at a healthy weight and keeping the arm, hand, and finger muscles strong and flexible can help avoid this injury.
Injury: Sternal Fracture
The sternum is the bone that attaches the two clavicles on either side of the upper chest and the upper seven ribs. While doing the bench press, if the bar comes crashing down on the chest, the sternum bears the brunt of the impact. A direct fall on the chest can result in a bruised sternum, or if the impact is beyond what the bone can bear, a break in the sternum may occur. A sternum fracture may be associated with damage to other structures and organs of the body like the ribs, vertebrae, lungs, and blood vessels. The fracture causes sharp and intense chest pain which increases during breathing, coughing, laughing, or sneezing. This condition may also cause swelling and pain with certain movements such as pushing, pulling, or heavy lifting.
Treatment: Individuals with a sternum fracture should undergo a thorough medical examination to rule out damage to the heart, lungs, blood vessels, or any other organs. The treatment consists of rest from strenuous activities, along with pain-relieving medicines. Surgical intervention is required in cases of bone displacement to restore the bone alignment and to fix the bones using pins or plates. Icing the fractured area in the initial stage helps ease pain and swelling. Exercises that improve posture, strength, and flexibility will help prevent stiffness and weakness from developing.
Avoidance Tactics: It is important that individuals with a sternum fracture take rest from any heavy, strenuous activities that will increase the pain and aggravate the injury. Activities that place stress on the sternum, like lying face down and applying direct pressure to the chest, should be avoided. Even after the sternum has healed, there should be a gradual return to the gym routine under the guidance of the treating physiotherapist or surgeon. Use of protective padding or chest guards may be required when returning to gym workouts.
Injury: Bicep Tendon Rupture
The bicep muscle has two tendons; one that attaches to the shoulder, and one tendon that attaches at the elbow. The tendon at the elbow is called distal biceps tendon, and when one attempts to curl a weight that is too heavy or suddenly drops the bar or dumbbell, it risks a tear in the bicep tendon. It can either be a partial tear that damages the soft tissue, but does not completely sever the tendon, or a complete tear that detaches the tendon from its attachment point at the bone. The rupture is accompanied by intense pain and swelling in the front of the elbow. There is a visible bulge in the upper part of the arm created by the recoiled, shortened biceps muscle, and a gap in the front of the elbow due to the absence of the tendon.
Treatment: The doctor will conduct an examination of the elbow, testing the strength of the forearm. Non-surgical treatment includes anti-inflammatory medications to reduce pain and swelling, and using a sling to give the arm rest from any kind of activities. Once the pain subsides, rehabilitation exercises to strengthen the surrounding muscles to restore movement and flexibility are recommended. If surgery is required, a hand surgeon may recommend performing it within the first 2-3 weeks, as over time the tendon and biceps muscles begin to scar and shorten, and surgery might not be effective. The surgery aims to reattach the distal biceps tendon to the forearm bone.
Avoidance Tactics: Any kind of heavy lifting should be avoided to help speed up the healing process. After the arm has healed, and the pain has subsided, the individual should gradually ease back into physical activities, including exercising. As you ease back into your gym routine, work with a weight you can handle, and work with the help of a spotter.
Injury: Pectoral Strain
This condition is characterized by a partial or complete tearing of one or more of the pectoral muscles. The pectoral muscles are a group of two muscles at the front of the chest. During stretching or contraction of the pectorals, tension is placed on the muscles and tendons. When there is excessive tension due to repetitive movements or high force, one or more of the pectoral muscles can tear. Usually while attempting to perform dumbbell flys with a weight that is heavier than one is accustomed to lifting, it leads to a tear of the chest muscle. This injury results in losing control of the dumbbell or barbell while bench pressing. Individuals experience pain that is centered around the chest, and front of the shoulder or arm pit. Individuals also experience bruising, swelling, muscle spasm, and weakness.
Treatment: Resting from intense physical activities, and icing the strained pectoral muscle reduces inflammation and keeps the pain under control. Applying compression bandages to the chest and torso helps in further containing the swelling. Massages, dry needling, trigger point release, and electrotherapy helps to improve range of movement, pain, and function. Individuals with pectoral strain should indulge in pain-free flexibility and strengthening exercises to ensure optimal recovery. If the strain does not improve, it may require pharmaceutical intervention, corticosteroid injection, or even a surgery may be needed in case of a complete rupture of the major muscle.
Avoidance Tactics: Stretching the pectorals before working out loosens up the muscles, which helps prevent muscle strain. Once the pain and swelling has been taken care of, you need to gradually get back into your workout routine. Make sure to work only with a load that is within your control. If it wobbles or feels like it is going to drop, chances are it is too heavy. In such cases, use a spotter for heavy sets. Use protective taping to reduce the likelihood of injury.
Injury: Joint Dislocations
When a joint experiences an unexpected or unbalanced impact, dislocation occurs. It is a bone slipping out of a joint, and it can be any joint in the body, such as the knee, hip, ankle, or shoulder. Not paying attention to one’s form or loading the bar with too much weight can result in a dislocated hand, shoulder, elbow, or knee. The excess pressure on the ligaments forces the bone out of its normal position. The dislocated area swells up and looks bruised. The area becomes discolored and may also have a strange shape as a result of the dislocation. It also results in loss of motion, pain during movement, numbness, and tingling sensations.
Treatment: The choice of treatment depends on which joint has been dislocated. Resting the area from any exhausting activities, and icing it or using a compression wrap gives relief from pain and swelling. The doctor repositions the joint back into place, and advises to wear a sling, splint, or cast for few days. This prevents any movement of the dislocated joint, speeding up the healing process. A pain killer or a muscle relaxant may be prescribed to help deal with the pain. If the dislocation is not given timely treatment, it can cause damage to the ligaments, nerves, or blood vessels, and surgery might be required in such extreme cases.
Avoidance Tactics: Practicing safe behavior helps prevent joint dislocation. Wearing protective gear or clothing, removing rugs from the floor or replacing them with non-skid rugs can help protect from dislocations. Do not try to move a dislocated joint back into place, except by a trained medical professional, or else it can damage the joint and the surrounding ligaments, blood vessels, and nerves. Alternate exercises for any one muscle group from one workout to the next. Ensure that the weight is light enough, such that you are able to press or pull in a smooth, steady motion to complete the set.
Injury: Cubital Tunnel Syndrome
This is also known as ulnar neuropathy, and is caused by excessive pressure on the ulnar nerve. Abnormal bone growth in the elbow or intense physical activity increases the pressure on the ulnar nerve. This syndrome is often found in baseball pitchers because of the twisting motion required to throw a slider that causes damage to the delicate ligaments in the elbow. Repeatedly leaning the elbow on hard surfaces or bending the elbow for sustained periods gives rise to this symptom. Sometimes the ulnar nerve snaps back and forth as the elbow is moved, which irritates the nerve. The symptoms of cubital tunnel syndrome include pain and numbness in the elbow, tingling in the ring and little fingers, muscle wasting in the hand, and decreased overall hand grip.
Treatment: The doctor may use electromyography as part of the cubital tunnel syndrome treatment, in which electrodes are placed into the muscles and on the skin to identify the area of nerve damage and determine the severity of the condition. If the electromyography reveals just minimal pressure on the ulnar nerve, then the syndrome can be treated conservatively. Use of a splint is also recommended to restrict the movement. If the nerve compression is serious, surgery might be recommended to simple decompression of the nerve, shift the nerve to the front of the elbow, or move the nerve under a layer of fat.
Avoidance Tactics: The first act of prevention is to avoid actions that cause the symptoms. A hand specialist can help find ways to avoid pressure on the nerve in the elbow. Restrictions are placed on lifting and elbow movements. Individuals suffering from this syndrome should avoid leaning on the funny bone. Ergonomic education like nerve-gliding exercises, stretching and strengthening exercises, and the effects of stress on the area can help avoid the injury.
Injury: Tennis/ Golf Elbow
Tennis elbow is the inflammation of the tendons on the outer bony prominence of the elbow and the muscles of the forearm. The pain is felt because the muscles and tendons become inflamed from overuse. In the game of tennis, a one-handed backhand with poor form, a late forehand swing that results in bending the wrist, or constantly turning the wrist for more spin on the serve results in tennis elbow symptoms. Golfers also tend to suffer from tennis elbow as pulling the club through the swing causes irritation in the elbow. Medial epicondylitis, which causes pain on the inside of the elbow, is common among golfers, baseball pitchers, and tennis players who hit topspin forehands, and weight lifters.
Treatment: Tennis elbow doesn’t usually lead to serious complications, unless the condition is left untreated, which could result in loss of motion or loss of function of the elbow and forearm. Resting the elbow and tendon, and putting a cold compress or a heat pack on the elbow helps it to heal. It is also advised to wear a strap, splint, or brace around the forearm to restrict the movement, and speed the healing process of the tendon. Painkillers like Ibuprofen pills, creams, and gels give relief from pain. Gentle exercises are also recommended to increase the muscle’s strength without any damage.
Avoidance Tactics: Avoiding overuse is the simplest prevention tactic for tennis elbow. Avoid using the wrong equipment like a golf club or tennis racket that is too heavy to handle or has a very large grip. Warming up before playing any sport is crucial, especially the ones that will exercise the elbow or arm. Ice the elbow immediately if there is any discomfort after the sports, and stop if you feel any pain during an activity. Avoid or minimize activities that tend to increase and aggravate the pain.
Injury: Rotator Cuff Tear
A rotator cuff tear is a common fear for pitchers, tennis players, swimmers, and football players. A severe case of this injury could cause a premature end to a player’s career. The rotator cuff is a group of four tendons and muscles that converge around the shoulder joint at the top of the humerus. These tendons and muscles together form a cuff that holds the arm in place, allowing its movement in different directions. The shoulder is a weak joint, so too much stress, or too many fastballs can lead to partial tears and swelling in the tendons of the rotator cuff. Excessive stress could also cause one or more tendons to pull away from the bone or tear in the middle. This injury is characterized by pain in the shoulder and arm which depends on the severity of the tear, snapping sounds while moving the shoulder, weakness and tenderness in the shoulder.
Treatment: The hand specialist will conduct a thorough diagnosis to understand the cause of the pain, and formulate the appropriate treatment. The joint needs complete rest for a speedy recovery. Doctors recommend wearing a sling so as to restrict any movement, and give the joint complete rest. Even anti-inflammatory pills or corticosteroid injections are prescribed to help with the intense pain. Individuals can also do range-of-motion exercises that will strengthen the rotator cuff muscles. Strengthening the muscles will help hold the shoulder firmly in place. Physical therapy, ultrasound, moist heat, and electrical muscle stimulation are also recommended as part of the rotator cuff tear treatment. A physical therapist may suggest rehabilitative exercises to strengthen the joint. More serious cases may be referred to an orthopedic surgeon and may require surgery.
Avoidance Tactics: The long-term changes that occur in the shoulder joint because of everyday wear and tear cannot be avoided, but the serious rotator cuff tear can be avoided with daily exercise, which will give strength and flexibility to the shoulder muscles. Avoid sports and other activities that involve forceful falls till the shoulder muscles heal completely. Take frequent breaks in between the physical activities, and ice the shoulder at night to give it some relief.
Injury: Muscle Pull
A muscle strain or pull, or even a muscle tear occurs when the muscle is overstretched or torn. A strain or pull causes damage to the muscle or its attaching tendons. A muscle pull usually happens as a result of fatigue, overuse, or improper use of a muscle. The muscles are subjected to undue pressure while playing sports like rowing, baseball, golf, and tennis, or even with sudden heavy lifting and performing other tasks. The muscle tear can be a tearing of all the muscle fibers and the tendons attached to the muscle, it can also cause damage to the small blood vessels, causing local bleeding, bruising, and pain due to irritation of the nerve endings. A muscle pull is characterized by swelling and weakness of the muscle or tendons. Pain is experienced when that particular muscle or the joint relating to the muscle is used.
Treatment: The swelling of the affected area or the local bleeding into the muscle can be treated early on by applying ice packs to close the blood vessels, and maintaining the strained muscle in a relaxed and stretched position. Heat can also be used to treat the muscle pull once the swelling has reduced. Anti-inflammatory medication like Ibuprofen or Ecotrin are prescribed to help deal with the pain and improve one’s ability to move around. An elastic bandage can be used to provide support and decrease the swelling. The injured area should be kept elevated to decrease the swelling. In some extreme cases, crutches or braces may be needed as part of the treatment process.
Avoidance Tactics: Make sure to do stretching exercises and warm up before playing any sport. This helps increase the blood flow and decrease the risk of injury. Avoid activities that put excessive strain on the muscles, or activities that are painful. Make stretching a daily habit to avoid such injuries. A safe exercise program can be chalked out in consultation with the doctor that will make the muscles strong and flexible, and reducing the risk of sports injuries.
A concussion is caused by a blow to the head or body, a fall, or any injury that shakes the brain inside the skull. It is a type of mild traumatic brain injury that results in an altered mental state that also includes becoming unconscious. Apart from cuts or bruises on the head or face, there may be no other visible signs of a brain injury. Some of the common symptoms of concussion include disorientation, vision disturbance, severe headaches, amnesia, nausea, and loss of balance. This type of injury is most common in contact sports like football, boxing, hockey, and soccer, and sometimes in skiing and gymnastics.
Treatment: Concussions are not usually life-threatening, but can lead to grave consequences if proper and timely treatment is not given. The treatment depends on the severity of the symptoms. In most cases, individuals recover fully with complete rest. Since the brain is very sensitive after a concussion injury, individuals are advised to take a complete break from any strenuous activities or exercises. In case of headaches, painkillers may be prescribed. In extreme cases with internal bleeding, swelling of the brain, or any serious impact to the brain, surgery or other intensive medical procedures might be required.
Avoidance Tactics: The best preventative measure is to avoid any type of contact sports or any aggressive physical activity for a few weeks or months, depending on the severity of the condition. Avoid alcohol and any other drugs as it slows down the recovery time. You also need to stay away from mentally exhausting tasks, as the brain is in a delicate stage post the injury. The brain is more sensitive to damage, so it is important to avoid any kind of situation that may aggravate the condition or lead to serious complications.
Workout: Dance Exercises
Injury: Muscle Spasms
When a muscle is overstretched or torn, inflammation occurs, which results in muscle spasms. Spasms can affect different types of muscles, exhibiting different symptoms. Muscle spasms occur due to overuse, dehydration, or electrolyte abnormalities, or if the muscle has been held in the same position for a prolonged period of time. A dance workout involves muscular effort that can overstretch or tear the muscle, causing sustained and involuntary contraction. Muscle spasm symptoms include an acute onset of pain, along with a severe decrease in the efficiency of the muscular group that is affected. A bulging, tight muscle may be felt underneath the skin.
Treatment: Most muscle spasm cases resolve within a couple of days or weeks. Rest and regulation of the dance workouts help treat the condition. Wet heat or deep heat like ultrasound or short waves, professional massage, and soft mechanical stretching are also some of the treatment options to treat muscle spasms. There is a circular behavior in spasms, in which the contraction causes pain, and the pain leads to further contraction. So painkillers are prescribed to eliminate the pain and to break the circle and release the muscular fibers.
Avoidance Tactics: Most of the muscle spasms are associated with dehydration and electrolyte disturbances. So, it is essential to keep hydrated during the dance routines. If the dance workout is taking place in a hot environment, it is important to fuel the body with enough fluids prior to the workout. Muscles need to be prepped for the physical activity, hence it is essential to maintain a warm-up routine before each dance session. Regular exercise stretches the muscle and keeps it well conditioned so as to avoid any such occurrence.
Injury: Snapping Hip Syndrome
A snapping hip syndrome is also known as dancer’s hip, in which one hears a snapping sound or feels a snapping sensation in the hip while walking, running, or swinging the leg around. Snapping is caused by the movement of a muscle or tendon over a bony structure in the hip. For most people the only symptom is the snapping sound or the sensation, but for dancers and athletes, this syndrome is also accompanied by pain and weakness that interfere with their performance. Iliotibial (IT) band tightness, weakness along the outside of the hip and lordosis are some of the causes of this syndrome. Dancers could experience a snapping sound in the frontal hip joint, as the IT band glides over the upper-leg bone.
Treatment: In most cases, the snapping hip syndrome can be treated with home remedies. Icing the area reduces swelling, while over-the-counter pain medications are used to relieve the snapping pain. Corticosteroid injections to the affected area are prescribed to reduce the inflammation. Reducing or modifying the activity is recommended to help in the healing process. Physical therapy is an effective treatment method, with emphasis on stretching, strengthening, and alignment. Surgery is recommended in very rare cases if the condition doesn’t improve.
Avoidance Tactics: Strengthening the lower abs, abductors, adductors, and hip flexors help prevent this syndrome. So, once the symptoms have stabilized, a maintenance program involving stretching and strengthening is initiated. Light warm-up exercises should be done before a dance workout, which warms and preps the muscles for the activity. Dancers should avoid turning out the feet, which causes stress to the knees and hips.
Injury: Meniscus Tear
Dancers commonly suffer from meniscus tears. The medial and lateral menisci are two large C-shaped cartilages within the knee joint that protects the joint from the stresses placed on it from walking, running, climbing, and bending. A tear in the meniscus occurs because of forceful twisting or hyper-flexing of the knee joint. A quick turn or twist, often with the foot planted while the knee is bent, like in many dance forms, causes a torn meniscus. It can also occur while playing sports. Its symptoms include knee pain, swelling, popping, and giving way.
Treatment: The doctor conducts a physical examination, checking both the knees, looking for tenderness, range of motion, and the stability of the knee. The treatment procedure for a torn meniscus depends on various factors like the type of tear, location of the tear, and how serious it is. Resting the knee, icing the affected area, wrapping it with an elastic bandage to give it a break from any kind of movement, and propping up the legs are some of the treatment procedures used to heal the tear. If the conservative measures fail, surgery may be needed to repair or remove the damaged cartilage.
Avoidance Tactics: It is recommended to maintain an ideal body weight that helps avoid such tears from occurring. Specific recommendations regarding weight-bearing are suggested by the surgeon and therapist to prevent the painful meniscus tear. Activities that put a lot of stress on the knee should be avoided. There should be a gradual return to dancing activities to prevent a recurrence of the tear.
Injury: Ankle Sprain
Even though it is quite a common injury, it is by no means a minor injury. A rapid shifting movement with the foot planted, like in dancing, or even in soccer or getting tackled in football, causes the sprain. In a sprain, the ankle rolls outward, while the foot turns inward, which causes ligaments of the ankle to stretch and tear. In some cases the ankle rolls inward and the foot outward, damaging the ligaments inside the ankle. An ankle sprain ranges from mild to severe. It depends on how many ligaments are injured and how badly they are injured. The common symptoms are pain, tenderness, and swelling. In case of severe sprains, a tear is experienced along with a pop or snap.
Treatment: The sprained ankle needs rest for complete healing. Icing the area frequently gives relief from swelling. An elastic compression wrap also reduces swelling, but as compression wraps don’t offer protection, a brace might be needed if any weight is being put on it. The ankle should be elevated above the level of the heart for two to three hours a day. Either prescription painkillers or over-the-counter pain relievers are used to relieve the pain. If the sprain doesn’t heal correctly, the joint may become unstable and turn into chronic pain. In rare cases, arthroscopy or reconstruction surgery is performed to repair the torn ligament.
Avoidance Tactics: The risk of an ankle sprain can be avoided by warming up before a dance workout, and using proper footwear. Wearing a brace gives it added support, thus avoiding the occurrence of a sprain. Stretching, strength training, and balance exercises keep the ankle strong and flexible, preventing further injury.
Injury: Neck strain
Dancing and choreography which incorporates a lot of head movements causes a strain on the dancers’ neck muscles. The cervical spine provides support for the head, and allows mobility and range of motions, but it also makes this area of the spine so flexible that it becomes vulnerable to injury. If dancers do not use the full spine properly when arching the head or neck, it causes strain to the neck muscles. A neck strain is usually characterized by dull aching pain, numbness, tingling, tenderness, and difficulty swallowing. Individuals can sometimes also experience a sharp pain, dizziness, and swelling in the lymph nodes.
Treatment: The treatment of a neck strain is based on the precise cause of the injury. For moderate pain, bed rest is advised. A cervical collar or putting a pillow to support the neck helps with the discomfort. The cold from an ice pack reduces the inflammation, and applying heat brings nutrient-rich blood flow to the injured area, stimulating a healing response. Anti-inflammatory medications, or pain relievers are used to get relief from the pain. In many cases, a gentle massage helps stimulate the blood flow in the area.
Avoidance Tactics: Individuals should avoid stretching the neck beyond their normal limit to prevent stress on the neck muscles. For dance moves requiring a lot of head movements, try to lengthen the neck rather than collapsing it. Avoid any additional strain to the neck, so that the symptoms subside quickly. Make sure to warm up before the dance routine, so that the muscles are strengthened and flexible enough for the workout.
Address your Sports Injury Immediately
Ignoring an injury is not a wise move. An untreated injury only gets worse with time, and will end up requiring surgery or other intense medical procedures. But if the injury is treated right away, it will heal quickly, allowing the person to get back to enjoying their workouts, and take all necessary precautions to avoid a recurrence of the injury. So, the next time you feel any aches and pain during the course of your workout, address it immediately by contacting a orthopedic specialist to eliminate the issue, as you continue working your way to tremendous body and health.
Next, read about the benefits of an in-office MRI.