Allan Dalziel DC MMCA MCC
Registered McTimoney Chiropractor - Clarkston - Glasgow
McTimoney Chiropractic - “Gentle And Effective Treatment For The Whole Body”
McTimoney Chiropractic And The Treatment Of Sports Injuries

The combination of McTimoney Chiropractic and electrotherapy treatment can be of enormous benefit in treating and preventing sports-related injuries and improving athletic performance.

The term sports injury refers to the kinds of injuries that commonly occur during sport or exercise. Sport and exercise can be very beneficial to health. They can reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke and obesity and help to beat depression.

However, exercise can also cause injuries, particularly if you do not prepare properly, or use proper safety equipment. It is very important to warm up before exercise, and to cool down afterwards.

What causes injury?
Most people get injuries through accidents, but professional and competitive athletes often develop overuse injuries. An overuse injury is usually a sprain, strain or fracture to part of the body that has been used repetitively. An example of this is a javelin thrower, who may be vulnerable to arm and shoulder injuries.

One frequent cause of injury is trauma - in other words, a broken bone, a twisted knee, a sprained ankle. Traumatic injuries are usually the result of impact and collisions, and typically occur suddenly, so generally there is not much you can do to prevent them. However, other injuries occur over time, because of identifiable problems, and so are preventable in many cases.

Not warming up properly, not using equipment correctly and not taking the proper safety precautions for your sport commonly cause sports injuries.

Children are also more at risk of injury because they are still developing physically. The female shape in particular changes significantly during puberty (between age 10 and 16). As the hips widen, exercise can put pressure on different parts of the legs and feet, leading to injury.

The repetitive and aggressive movements used in many sports can result in different types of injuries to different parts of the body, for example:

Football injuries
As football is increasingly becoming a contact sport, fractures, cuts and bruises are common injuries. Other injuries include boot stud injuries, damage to knee cartilage through repeated twisting actions, and ankle sprains.

Racquet sports injuries
Racquet sports include badminton, tennis and squash. Injuries during racquet sports are often caused by players falling onto hard surfaces, and include cuts, bruising and fractures. Eye injuries are a specific risk, especially from racquet sports such as squash where the ball travels at high speed. Lower and upper body muscle strains are a risk, particularly for professional or competitive players.

Athletics injuries
Runners are at risk of various muscle strains, particularly to the legs, lower back and lower half of the body. Ankle and ligament damage is also common, as well as Achilles tendon rupture and calf tendon tears.
The sudden movement and intense power required by throwers can lead to injuries to the upper body limbs, usually the shoulder, elbows and wrists. 
Jumping events can lead to stress injuries to the lower limbs and spine. Professional or competitive athletes who participate in jumping events are at risk of overuse injuries to the tendons and ligaments of the knees and Achilles.

Gymnastics injuries
Gymnasts can develop serious injuries if training is not properly supervised and safety equipment is not used. Because the body is often contorted into new shapes, training is particularly associated with picking up injuries. Spinal injuries are the biggest risk to gymnasts. High impact landings from substantial heights can cause spinal injuries, as can repeated hyperextension (back bends). This can lead to serious conditions such as spondylolysis and spondylolisthesis (damage to the vertebrae of the back), which need surgical treatment.

Other injury risk factors include:
Leg length discrepancy
Muscle weakness or imbalance
Limited flexibility
Joint laxity - not being able to control and stabilise joints throughout their full range of motion
Being overweight - this increases the load on muscles, tendons, ligaments and joint structures during weight-bearing activities

Virtually any part of your body can be injured during sport or exercise. The most common sports injuries and their symptoms are:

Sprains - this is a stretch or tear to a ligament; the tissue that holds two or more bones together. Symptoms of a sprain include pain, swelling, bruising and restriction of movement in the affected area. Sprains are common injuries in many sports and can be treated with rest and anti-inflammatory medication if necessary.
Strains - this is a twist, pull or tear of a muscle or tendon (the tough, narrow tissue at the end of a muscle that connects it to the bone). It is caused by overstretching or over-contracting a muscle. Symptoms of a strain include pain, muscle spasm and loss of strength in the muscle. Strains are common injuries in many sports, particularly those that involve running, jumping or rapid changes of direction.
Tennis elbow - symptoms include swelling around the outer edge of the elbow (because the tendon is inflamed), tenderness around the elbow and pain during movement of the elbow. Tennis elbow is due to repetitive movement of the muscles in the lower arm and can be treated with anti-inflammatory drugs, an elbow splint to support the arm, or a cortisone injection.
Golfer's elbow - this condition has similar symptoms to tennis elbow (above), with the difference that the swelling appears on the inside of the elbow due to the difference in arm movement during sport.
Jogger's nipple - this term is used to describe dermatitis (itchy, inflamed skin) around the nipples and is due to constant chafing of clothing against the nipple. Spreading petroleum jelly on your skin before running can help prevent it. Hydrocortisone cream may help to reduce symptoms once the condition has developed.
Runner's knee - this is swelling at the back of the kneecap (chondromalacia) and can cause a grating sensation in the knee. Runner's knee is due to repeated impact through running on hard surfaces.
Blisters - these are small swellings filled with serum, which are caused by friction on soft skin. Blisters are a common minor injury for athletes who take part in prolonged sports, such as long distance running or football. Rowers often develop blisters on the palms of their hands.
Head injuries - many athletes receive blows to the head during contact sports such as rugby, boxing, ice hockey, and football. This can cause concussion and even brain damage. Even if the knock is not severe enough to cause the skull to fracture, the brain bangs against the skull and can be damaged. A knock to the head can cause symptoms such as loss of consciousness, light-headedness, dizziness, nausea, and sickness. These are signs of concussion and will need medical treatment.
Tendonitis - this is an uncomfortable condition caused by overuse, strain, or a tear in a tendon. Symptoms include swelling, redness, and pain at the injured area, restricted movement of the area, and sometimes a change in appearance of the area, such as a lump or visible change in position of an affected limb.
Shin splints - this is pain along the shinbone (the bone at the front of the lower leg between the knee and the ankle), caused by inflammation and tiny fractures (microfractures) in the surface of the bone. Shin splints are common in any sport-involving running and are usually caused by too much training too soon, although they can be caused by running on a hard surface or by running in shoes that do not have enough support for the foot and ankle.

What should I do if I am injured?
Obviously, a serious trauma injury, such as a broken bone or ruptured ligaments, will require immediate medical attention, but most injuries are not so dramatic, and some may even respond simply to rest. If your injury is severe, you should visit your nearest Accident and Emergency (A&E) department. If the injury does not require immediate attention, but causes severe pain, swelling or numbness, or if you cannot place any weight on the affected area, you should visit your GP or local NHS Walk-in centre.

When you are injured, there is typically swelling, redness, tenderness and increased temperature. This inflammatory response is how the body tries to heal itself – it is the body's attempt to dispose of blood (from torn tissue) and damaged cells.

Excessive swelling (oedema) can interfere with the initial healing process, so it is important in the early first aid treatment of sports injury to help limit this swelling.
Sprains and other damage to the muscles or ligaments can be treated at home with RICE therapy. This stands for:

Rest - two days (48 hours) of rest is recommended.
Ice - apply an ice pack to the area for between 10 and 30 minutes. The ice must not touch the skin directly as this may cause a cold burn, so place a towel over the injured part first. 
Compression - compression bandages can be used to limit swelling and movement.
Elevation - raise the leg or arm to an elevated but comfortable height to reduce swelling.

After 48 hours, you should attempt to move the injured area, and stop compression. Ice and massage can be used to increase blood flow and you may require treatment to restore full use of the arm or leg.

Although RICE therapy can be helpful for any sports injury, if the injury is severe it may need additional treatment:

Pain relief (analgesics) painkillers such as paracetamol can be used along with anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen to ease the pain of sprains and fractures and reduce swelling. However, ibuprofen is not recommended if you have a history of asthma, kidney, or liver disease, and children under the age of 16 should not take aspirin.
Immobilisation of the affected area - immobilisation reduces movement, which can prevent further damage and reduce pain, muscle swelling and muscle spasm. It also allows the blood supply to flow more directly to the injured area, helping the healing process to begin. A sling can be used to immobilise an arm or shoulder. A splint or a cast made of plastic or fibreglass can protect injured bones and soft tissue. A leg immobiliser made from foam rubber can keep the knee from bending if it has been injured.

In some cases, surgery is needed to repair torn connective tissue or to repair broken bones. However, the vast majority of sports injuries do not require surgery.

A key part of the treatment of more severe sports injuries is rehabilitation. This is a program of gradually increased exercise designed to return the injured area to its normal level of function. With most injuries, getting the injured part moving gently as soon as possible will speed healing. As movement becomes easier and the pain decreases, stretching and strengthening exercises can help the injured area return to normal.

If your injury is minor – not much more than a little stiffness or soreness – it may be that you have simply been doing a little too much too soon and the affected area just needs rest. However, there may be underlying reason for the soreness, and it never pays to ignore an injury, especially when it may be very easy to locate its cause.

Injury can affect your bones, muscles, joints or the connective tissues that hold them together - the tendons and ligaments. Most of the time the cause of your injury can be established and a recurrence prevented, so it need not stop your fitness programme for long. Nevertheless, it is vital you do not ignore injuries and simply 'soldier on' as this can make them much worse and leave you with a chronic condition that is far harder to treat.

If you do go directly to a therapist outside the NHS, it is important to check they are a regulated practitioner, and whomever you see for treatment – on the NHS or not – needs to have skills relevant to your specific problem, which is why it is best to find someone based on reliable recommendation or, best of all, GP referral.

It is difficult for professional and competitive athletes to prevent sports injuries all the time, because of their intense and frequent training. However, for most other people, sports injuries are usually a result of accidents that could have been prevented or of not following the simple guidelines below:

Warm up. The most important way to prevent sports injuries is to make sure that you have completed an adequate warm-up session (at least five to ten minutes), before taking part in a sports activity. Warming up involves exercising muscles for a few minutes at a steady pace, before gradually increasing to a brisk pace. This will increase the blood flow to your muscles, making them more flexible, and reducing the risk of muscle strains.
Start your warm up with some gentle exercise, such as walking, or slow jogging. You should gradually increase the intensity by walking, or jogging faster, in order to ensure that your muscles have fully warmed up before you start activity that is more vigorous. At the end of your warm up, you may wish to do some gentle stretches. However, to avoid injury, it is important that you only stretch when your muscles are warm.
Do not over do it. Try not to overdo it at first. If you have not done much exercise for a long time, strenuous activity could be more harmful than beneficial. Be realistic and honest with yourself about what you can achieve, you will soon be able to increase your activity as you become fitter. See your GP first if you are starting a new fitness plan and have not recently exercised.
Avoid dehydration. Drink plenty of water, especially when the weather is warm or when you are participating in sports that require endurance. Dehydration can reduce your physical and mental fitness.
Use the right technique. Learn to do your sport properly. Using the proper technique can reduce the risk of overuse injuries such as tendonitis and stress fractures. If you are exercising in a gym or leisure centre there will be experts you can ask for guidance.
Use the proper equipment. Protective equipment is essential in some sports, particularly activities that involve person-to-person contact. Cricket boxes, shin pads, and gloves are all examples of equipment that should be worn to prevent injury. Appropriate footwear that provides support and protection for your feet is also essential. Protective headwear is particularly important. Head guards and helmets protect the skull and the brain from injuries caused by knocks to the head and greatly reduce the risk of serious head injuries.
Cool down. When you have finished exercising, make sure you take time to cool down properly. You should spend at least five to ten minutes after your work out doing gentle exercises, such as jogging or walking, until your heart rate returns to normal. A gentle cool down will help with the removal of waste products from the muscles you have used and their replacement with nutrients and oxygen. This should leave you with less muscle stiffness and soreness after your exercise.
Allan Dalziel DC MMCA MCC - McTimoney Chiropractor McTimoney Chiropractic Clinic
44 Brackenrig Crescent, Waterfoot, Glasgow G76 0HF
0141 644 1111       07903 553521
General Chiropractic Council Registration Number 00855
Monday to Friday Appointments : 9 am to 8 pm By Arrangement
Saturday Appointments : 9 am To 1 pm By Arrangement
Appointment Times Are Flexible To Accommodate Patient’s Needs