Tag Archives: Shin splints

Quick Tips for Sports Injury Prevention

SportsInjuryJacquie Eubanks RN BSN

What are the causes of the most common sports-related injuries? For recreational and elite athletes muscle overuse or taking on too much too quickly is a primary factor. General wear and tear on the joints, or areas of the body subjected to repeated activity, is another. Then there’s failure to properly warm up muscles and joints before beginning physical activity. Accidents, poor technique, improper training and incorrect gear are more reasons that we may get injured or hurt while exercising or participating in sports. While some injuries are beyond our control, many are preventable with adequate warmup, proper technique and training. Good judgment and some common sense can help keep you safe and reduce the chances of a potentially sidelining injury.

Taking precautionary steps can decrease the likelihood of injury. Be sure to engage in pre-participation conditioning before diving headlong into any new exercise or sports program, as unaccustomed exercise can result in muscle overuse, sprains, tears, or delayed onset muscle pain and stiffness. Continuing and pushing yourself too hard once muscle fatigue sets in, increases the risk of multiple injuries. Quit while you are ahead of the game, and let your body rest and recover to enable you to play another day. Take precautions, as once you have had an injury, such as a hamstring sprain or tear, the risk of injury occurrence increases. Prevention should focus on increasing strength and endurance with periods of rest.

Muscle pulls and tears – When muscle fibers are stretched beyond their capacity or a muscle is subjected to sudden force, some muscle fibers can tear, resulting in a pulled muscle. A muscle tear occurs when most of the fibers are affected. Working your muscles regularly and light stretching before and during exercise, and a deeper stretch afterwards when muscles are warm helps the body to stay limber, which is a good strategy for preventing muscle injury.

Runner’s knee – More than half of all sports injuries involve a variety of aches and pains related to the knee cap, including torn ligaments and cartilage. Runner’s knee can affect cyclists, swimmers, ball players, and aerobics aficionados, as well as runners, sprinters and joggers. Knee injury may result from overuse, which can lead to irritation of the tendon below the kneecap, or from a misaligned knee cap that can wear down cartilage and cause fluid buildup, pain, and swelling. Weight training and isometric exercises that strengthen the quadriceps help to prevent knee injury by realigning and supporting the knee cap. Replace shoes regularly and cross train to prevent overuse of the knee joint.

Shin splints – Pain in the muscles attached to the shin bones are generally caused by tears due to overuse, exercising on hard surfaces, improper shoe support or concentrated speed work. A slow warm up, athletic shoes with good arch support, compression sleeves, incrementally increasing intensity and exercising on a softer surface can help to prevent shin splints.

Tennis and golf elbow – Tennis players, golfers, weight lifters and baseball pitchers can be plagued by tennis elbow, an inflammation of the forearm muscles and the tendon that connects muscles to the elbow, causing pain on the either side of the elbow. Proper sports alignment and technique, along with strengthening exercises, can help to improve forearm strength. Lessons from a tennis or golf pro can help correct swing problems to help avoid muscle overuse and fatigue.

Lower back strain – More likely to occur among sedentary or overweight people than athletes, lower back pain and muscle spasms, that often seem to come out of nowhere, are largely the result of weak or tense muscles. Athletes and enthusiasts who participate in sports that involve unilateral motions, such as tennis, golf, and martial arts, as well as cycling and running, are more prone to back injuries. Proper warm up is critical in preventing back pain. Regular stretching and exercises that strengthen, not only the back muscles, but also the abdominal and hamstring muscles, can help to prevent back strain and stiffness.

Shoulder injuries – Shoulder injuries often occur among those who participate in tennis, swimming, weightlifting, volleyball, or any activity that involves overhead movement. Overuse, training errors, or improper technique can cause problems including sprains, strains, dislocations or tendon impingement, resulting in inflammation, limited range of motion and pain. Gradual weight training can help to strengthen the shoulder to reduce the risk of injury.

Many will agree that there are physical, mental and social benefits to exercise. To stay in the game and keep yourself as injury free as possible:

  • Use proper form and equipment
  • Pace yourself by gradually increasing intensity and length of activity
  • Improve flexibility with daily stretching exercises or yoga
  • Condition arm, leg and core muscles with strength training several times a week
  • Use cross training to build variety into your routine to exercise different muscle groups
  • Sufficiently hydrate before, during and after exercise or sports

If an injury does occur, seek medical advice as needed, and protect against further injury by restricting activity, applying ice for 20 minutes every 2 hours for 48 hours after injury, and reduce swelling by elevating the injured area and applying a compression bandage when appropriate.

Professional Supplement Center carries many fine products that support muscle and joint health and exercise recovery:

Muscle-AidMuscle-Aid by BioGenesis Nutraceuticals: This professional strength powdered formula provides a blend of vitamins, minerals and amino acid chelates plus L-glutamine and L-carnitine for optimal energy support and healthy muscle recovery. Muscle-Aid helps to control muscle spasms and alleviate cramping, while reducing myalgia and other pains and providing support for cardiovascular health.

Tense-X (Formerly...Tense-X by Professional Botanicals: This highly absorbable proprietary formula provides a blend of adaptogens and relaxing botanicals formulated to support muscle and general relaxation, and calm nerves and muscle spasms due to injury or fatigue. Gluten free, Non-GMO formulation.

Amino SportAmino Sport™ by Biotics® Research: This broad-spectrum professional formula provides a superior and balanced blend of amino acids in support of energy requirements, rehabilitation protocols and muscle building. Gluten free formulation.

 

Collagen Sport...ON SALE Collagen Sport Ultimate Recovery Complex French Vanilla by NeoCell: This advanced bioavailable naturally flavored whey protein/collagen powdered formula provides vitamins, minerals and amino acids in support of muscle recovery, and healthy ligaments and joints, as well as healthy aging. Gluten, sugar and lactose free. Also available in Belgian Chocolate flavor.

Compression Leg...Compression Leg Sleeves by Zensah: These top selling leg sleeves provide runners and athletes with targeted compression for calf support, shin splint relief and decreased fatigue. Great for runners, golfers, tennis and basketball players, the physically active, and all athletes who want to take their sport to the next level. Made with durable comfortable fabric. Available in a variety of sizes and colors. Machine wash/line dry. Knee Sleeve, Elbow Sleeve, Thigh Sleeve, and Plantar Fasciitis Sleeve also available.

References:
Exercise-induced muscle damage and inflammation: a review. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8665277
2017 Sports Injury Prevention Tip Sheet. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8665277
How can I avoid a sports injury? http://www.nsmi.org.uk/articles/avoid-sports-injury.html
Top 10 Sports Injuries. http://www.sportsinjuryhandbook.com/injuries/
Healthy Lifestyle Fitness. http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/overuse-injury/art-20045875?p=1
Overuse injury. http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/overuse-injury/art-20045875?p=1

Exercise Related Injury Recovery

Exercise Related Injury RecoveryBy Jacquie Eubanks BSN, RN

An exercise related injury can happen to anyone regardless of their fitness level.  The cause may be a sudden traumatic event such as a fall, collision or a misstep.  However, many injuries occur gradually and may be due to overuse, unsupportive shoes, or inadequate warm up, stretching or cool down. The most common workout injuries include:

  • Muscle pull or strain – Occurs when a muscle or tendon is stretched or torn, often as a result of overuse or improper use. 
  • Shin splints –  A condition characterized by pain in the lower part of the leg generally caused by repeated trauma to the connective muscle tissue surrounding the shin bone. 
  • Tendonitis – An inflammation of the tendon resulting in painful movement.  Tendonitis is most often caused by overuse or poor body mechanics. 
  • Dislocations – Joint injuries that force the ends of your bones out of position.  The cause is often a fall or blow or direct physical contact with a finger, shoulder or knee joint. 
  • Sprains – Occurs when a ligament is stretched or torn, typically when a joint is subjected to excessive force or unnatural movement.  The degree of severity varies between a stretched ligament and a partially or completely torn ligament. 
  • Stress fractures –  An overuse injury that occurs when muscles become fatigued and are unable to absorb added shock.  The overload of stress is transferred to the bone causing a tiny crack.  Most stress fractures are the result of impact, improper equipment or a too rapid increase in intensity.  The majority of stress fractures occur in the lower legs and feet. 
  • Muscle cramps or spasms – Strong and sustained muscle contractions that are generally relieved by gentle stretching. 

Many minor injuries can be treated at home.  Dislocations and torn ligaments require medical assistance.  With lesser injuries, there are three basic phases of recovery:

Immediate post injury.  The first 24 – 48 hours after an injury is referred to as the acute phase.  As quickly as possible after an injury,  follow the RICE program:

  • Rest –  Minimize the movement of the injured body part to give tissues time to heal.
  • Ice –  Icing is a simple and effective way to reduce inflammation, pain and swelling.  Apply an icepack for 10 -15 minutes at a time, every hour for the first four hours.  Then 4 times daily for the next 2 -3 days.  After 48 – 72 hours switch to heat treatments.
  • Compression –  An elastic bandage will help reduce swelling when the injured area is wrapped immediately following an injury.  It should be snug but not too tight.  It may help to pad the injured area before wrapping to allow pressure where it is most needed and relieve pressure stemming from the bandage on area around the injury.
  • Elevation –  Raising the injured part above heart level allows fluid to drain away from injured tissue resulting in reduced pain, swelling and inflammation.
The recovery period.  After you have been pain-free for one week, you can slowly begin active movement.  Once swelling subsides and pain diminishes, you can begin to recover your strength, endurance and range of motion.  Use the same care in your rehabilitation plan that you did in your treatment of the injury.  Practice moderation and start with gentle exercises.  Gradually increase the power and strength of your activity.  Be sure to warm your muscles before exercising, and cool down with ice afterward  if there is any pain or swelling. 
 

The functional phase. This is the time to work toward full recovery and regain your full exercise capacity.  As you begin to test your limits, use pain and swelling as a guide to  how quickly you can increase intensity and length of exercise.  During this phase it is important to take steps to prevent repeat injury.  Consider using a brace for additional support and continue to ice the injured area after exercise for at least an additional week or two.  

Most importantly, continue to engage in some form of exercise while your body heals and recovers from the injury.  Muscle power fades rapidly when muscles are not used.  Be as active as you can without stressing the injured area.  Try a different form of exercise that allows you to continue some activity.  For example, if you’ve injured your shoulder playing tennis, you can walk for exercise.  If you’ve sprained your ankle, do an upper body workout.  Consider a cross-training exercise such as swimming to aid in full strength and endurance recovery. 

A good tip to remember:  Simple injuries can be easily overcome.  The major illnesses that stem from inactivity are not. 

Supplements to aid injury recovery include:

Acute Phase by Metagenics  is designed to provide targeted nutritional muscle tissue support and minor pain relief.  Featuring premium-grade proteolytic enzymes, targeted herbal extracts, and essential minerals,  Acute Phase is the ideal nutritional component for the first three days following an injury. 

Ligament Restore by Pure Encapsulations  combines ingredients found naturally in tendons, ligaments and joints to help strengthen and support the maintenance and natural repair processes of healthy connective tissue.

Arnicare Gel with MDT Pack by Boiron  is a homeopathic formula that temporarily relieves muscle pain and stiffness due to minor injuries, overexertion and falls.  It also reduces pain, swelling and discoloration from bruises.

Injurotox (B-11) by Apex Energetics provides relief of symptoms from injuries to soft tissues or bones either from recent or existing trauma or impact.  Useful for overuse and muscle weakness and rich in homeopathic phytotherapeutics and flower essences, Injurotox is excellent for injury or surgical recovery. 

Muscle-Aid by BioGenesis Neutraceuticals  is an mineral amino acid chelate and vitamin beverage that includes malic acid, taurine, glutamine, L-carnitine, and selenium for optimizing energy support.  Muscle-Aid helps control muscle spasms, alleviates cramping, and supports cardiovascular health.