It is a lovely warm day and you are all geared up for your weekly jog or game. Weekends are your favourite time of day because that is when you get to sweat it out and catch up on your exercise that is usually forgone during weekdays.
So off you go, working out your muscles and feeling great for it…until the next day, when you find yourself in such pain that need to take medical leave. ‘Another weekend warrior’, snigger the doctors when you seek treatment. Where did you go wrong?
“Most sport injuries such as sprains, strains and muscle aches can be avoided if you exercise correctly and take proper safety precaution when exercising,” says Dr B.S. Bains, Senior Consultant Physiotherapist and CEO of Bains Physio®.
From his 25 years of experience, he knows that most people injure themselves due to poor knowledge of their bodies. “People tend to rush into sporting activities without accessing and deliberating a profile of their musculo-skeletal structure first. Unattended sport injuries can also lead to long term pathology which may affect one’s lifestyle if left untreated,” he says.
Here are the 5 most common causes of sport injuries to avoid:
1. Weekend Warriors
This refers to those who engage in a spurt of intensive sporting or physical activities over the weekend to compensate for the lack of exercise during the week. The most common ‘weekend warriors’ are golfers, swimmers, badminton, football, hash runners and futsal players.
A sudden spur of exercise may cause fresh or existing compounding stress and strain that happened some time ago or asymatric injuries between the left and right limbs. According to Dr Bains, the majority of sports injuries don’t happen among sportspeople or athletes but weekend warriors.
His advice for weekend warriors is to first work on their fitness levels and know the conditions of your joints, muscles, foot arches and physical strength. Find pockets of time during the week to build stamina and conduct regular stretching in preparation for the weekly sporting session during weekends.
2. Warming Up and Cooling down
Sport injuries are bound to occur when you do not warm up properly, Dr Bains notes. Warming up and cooling down routines help to reduce soreness, fatigue and muscle shock as well.
It is important to differentiate between a warming up routine and a cooling down routine. A warming up routines involves low level activities or mobile activities such as a slow jog, brisk walk or stretching which helps to warm up the muscles and increase blood circulation.
Cooling down routines, on the other hand involves lowering of your pace, followed by walking and stretching of your muscles that have been heated up by exercise. Stretching every area of your muscle groups after exercise is recommended to prevent injuries. A good massage and foot exercises are also recommended as a cooling down activity.
3. ‘Abrupt’ Exercising
Your son is graduating in two months and you need to attend his convocation halfway across the world. Or you have just been invited to participate in a trek up Gunung Ledang or Fraser’s Hill with your friends. Or you have just signed up for a charity 4-km walkathon next month to raise funds.
Do you begin an exercise programme immediately so that you are fit enough for the upcoming challenge? Not without seeking the advice of your doctor or physiotherapist, says Dr Bains.
Incorporating an exercise routine abruptly into your daily lifestyle may lead to sport injuries. Understanding your body is vital, he stresses. Exercising is healthy but it is vital to know your body and capabilities before planning an exercise regime.
“Some injuries may originate from an unrelated string of events,” he says. For instance, patients who are newly diagnosed with health problems such as diabetes, hypertension or high cholesterol may suddenly decide to join a gym or take up kickboxing to manage their health issues.
The sudden trauma may lead to painful muscles and joints, whether from fresh or past injuries.
If you have been sedentary for a long time, you will need to go slow into the action. Begin with low-impact exercises such as walking or swimming before trying more strenuous activities.
4. Pushing your limits
Over estimating your strength, fitness and endurance level may cause you to push your body beyond what is acceptable. “It is important for people to first know whether they have any underlying physical deformities or congenital problems before starting on an exercise regime”, advises Dr Bains who sees many reoccurring gym-sustained injuries.
Former injuries or deformities must be corrected or addressed before starting or continuing an exercise regime, otherwise it will aggravate the condition and affect healing.
One piece of common sense that is not commonly practice is to recognise pain and discomfort as signals from our body to stop.
“We must listen to our bodies”, stressed Dr Bains. “What starts out as a minor injury may become much worse if you ignore the calls from your body to stop.”
Underestimating a sport injury can bring serious repercussions to one’s physical well being. Just stopping the exercise after experiencing pain is not good enough. It may be too late and put you to regret all your life.
When the pain stops, many often continue with their exercise regime without taking a deeper look at the physical condition of the injury. This causes continual impact on the bone or tendon. In severe cases, a joint replacement would become necessary.
All this can be avoided, says Dr Bains, if the problem is treated in totality. Inadequate treatment may lead to further serious problems as age catches up.
Managing sports injuries
No matter how well-trained you are in a sport, you may suffer from sport injuries at one point or another. “I am not discouraging sports. Treated early, one can continue playing after their recovery period if injuries are managed correctly.
“Physiotherapists commonly known as “Movement Specialist”, today have a deeper understanding of body mechanism and are better equipped to handle various kinds of injuries. By strengthening the core muscles, we increase the range of mobility, stabilise movements and in the process, reduce pain and future injuries,” says Dr Bains.
With technological advancements in sports healthcare, common injuries such as tennis elbow, strains, dislocated shoulders, lumbar spondylitis, frozen shoulder or anterior crucriate ligament (ACL) can be corrected with the right medical intervention.
With the evolution and improvements in sports injury management today, new therapeutic techniques have been developed with profound step down care and early recovery. Medical sciences therapies have been brought about. New treatments techniques such as keyhole surgeries, high-technology facilities, better braces to speed up the healing process and advanced physiotherapy guided recuperation services in not only speeding up the healing process, but also in keeping the treatment cost low by reducing treatment time and hospitalisation.
Jogging or running is not recommended for everyone as some people face problems such as knee hyperextension (a deformity at the knee joints where the knee bends backwards), flat foot, stiff hip flexes or asymmetric dynamics of the body. This makes them more prone to problems such as backaches or prolapse discs. Dr. Bains however advocates brisk walking with constant speed for at least for half an hour three times a week.