Making physical exercise a part of your life can benefit your health and well-being in a number of ways. Pumping up a sweat now and then has been shown to:
- Improve your fitness and help you achieve your weight goals faster
- Promote good posture
- Release mood-boosting endorphins that melt away stress and tension
- Improve academic performance by developing skills (memorization, repetition, and learning) that can be transferred to the classroom
- Improve social relationships by emphasizing cooperation, concentration, and commitment
The good news is, more people are playing sport from an early age, and participation in organized sports continues to be on the rise. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2009 there were nearly 30 million children and adolescents participating in football, basketball, bicycling, tennis, ice hockey, and other sports. On the other hand, the minute a person steps foot on a football field, golf course, court, or track, they are at risk of getting a sports-related injury.
The increase in play has also led to a startling increase in the number of sports-related injuries among young Americans. Estimates show that approximately 3.5 million children and adolescents ages 14 and older are hurt every year playing sports, of who 775,000 visit the ER every year to receive emergency treatment. Basketball, baseball, football, soccer, and skateboarding are the sports accounting for most injuries, and those who are just beginning to play a sport or recreational activity are at greater risk of getting injured.
In this article, we’re going look at the top four most common sports-related injuries and the way chiropractic treatment can put athletes on the path for full recovery.
4 Common Sports Injuries and The Best Chiropractic Approach
1) Ankle Sprain
This is the most common type of sports-related injuries (with a high reoccurrence rate) that occurs when one of the bands of tissue that hold the ankle together called ligaments is torn. Typically, it occurs on the outside or lateral of the ankle when the ankle is twisted underneath the leg (through a process called inversion) as a result of tripping, not landing correctly after a jump, sudden twisting or rotating the ankle, or walking and running on uneven surfaces. Common symptoms include pain and various degrees of swelling and bruising.
The chiropractic approach. There are several modalities to addressing an ankle injury, including physical therapy, spinal adjustments, and massage therapy. In one study performed on athletes with chronic recurrent lateral ankle sprain syndrome, it was shown that “high-velocity, low amplitude chiropractic manipulative therapy to the spine, pelvis, and extremities, particularly at the ankle,” has significant results with chronic ankle inversion sprains of various degrees.
2) Achilles Tendinitis
This is one of the most common injuries in people who participate in running, gymnastics, tennis, volleyball, football, and baseball. The Achilles tendon is the large tendon at the back of the ankle connecting the calf muscles to the heel bone, with the role of ensuring the transmission of forces from the calf to the foot. Although the Achilles tendon can withstand a tremendous amount of stress and pressure during sports activities, injuries may be caused by overuse, improper stretching before exercising, tightness in the foot muscles, and wearing high heels that increase the pressure on the tendon.
The chiropractic approach. The standard chiropractic approach for Achilles tendinitis is adjusting for a posterior calcaneus which, in many cases, contributes to the cause of the injury. This is performed by a licensed chiropractor who applies force on the injured part of the foot, causing the foot to be “whipped” quickly, usually accompanied by an audible “pop.” In standard procedure, the rest of the foot all the way up to the pelvis will be evaluated and treated for subluxations. Other effective chiropractic treatments for injured tendons include electrical stimulation, ice therapy, stretching, and ultrasound.
3) Shin Splint
The term “shin splint” refers to the pain along the tibia (also called the shinbone) that most often occurs runners and dancers who have suddenly intensified or changed their routine without a gradual progression. As a result, the tendons and muscles become overworked and pain appears. Shin splints can be prevented by wearing proper shoes with support and padding, always stretching before an intense workout, and improving mobility in the stabilizing muscles in the hip and ankles.
The chiropractic approach. Because these types of injuries are often caused by improper biomechanics of the feet or misalignments in the spine, pelvis, or ankles, a licensed chiropractor will often start by performing an evaluation of the problem areas. Chiropractic adjustments can help relieve the tension and pressure on the anterior side of the lower leg leading to shin splints and also prevent future occurrences. To accelerate the healing process, some forms of muscle therapy may be used for the tibia to reduce muscle spasm and scar-tissue.
4) Hamstring Strain
If you often skip the warm-up before exercising, or your workouts are focused more on your quadriceps rather than the hamstring, you’d properly already suffered a painful hamstring strain. Although mild strains are not as painful and you can work out through the pain, the more severe ones will leave you agonizing and unable to perform the simplest tasks, such as getting up and walking. What happens during a hamstring strain is one of the three muscles running along the back of your thigh that allows you to bend the leg at the knee becomes overstretched and may even start to tear. Athletes involved in sports that require a lot of running and jumping will experience hamstring injuries most often.
The chiropractic approach. A thorough biomechanical evaluation of the spine, pelvis, knee, and foot (which can all be involved in hamstrings’ predisposition to overstretch) will allow the chiropractor to identify and correct alignment problems. Treatment of hamstring injuries will usually depend on the severity of the injury and on the number of above factors contributing to injury occurrence. Standard treatment for acute and chronic injury includes ice therapy, massage therapy, strengthening exercises, and spinal manipulation.
Most sports-related injuries are not life threatening, and most of them can be prevented: proper warm-up and stretching procedures, sufficient hydration, and appropriate gear can substantially reduce the injury rate. However, if you have been hurt in a sporting activity and you have painful symptoms that heat/ice or painkillers cannot seem to alleviate, schedule a consultation with your local chiropractor’s office today to make sure you are on your way to full recovery.
About the Author
Dr. Marc Browner is the Founder of iChiropractic and Wellness in Naples, Florida. A graduate of the University of Florida in 1991, he earned his Doctor of Chiropractic degree from Life Chiropractic in 1995. In private practice since 1998, Dr. Browner is a member of the Florida Chiropractic Society, the Florida Chiropractic Association, and he attends continuing education seminars, classes, and workshops to remain abreast of the most current treatment methods and technological advances in the field.