Sports injury is very common and there are a number of conditions that can arise from participating in sports. Sports injury can also be sport-specific; for instance, sprained ankles are a very common and reoccurring injury seen in soccer players. Sports chiropractic can provide care in the conservative management, rehabilitation or optimisation of the neuromusculoskeletal system for the athlete to recover from injury and/or better performance.
Types of sporting injuries
Soft tissue structures, such as muscles, joints, ligaments, nerves and also the supporting skeleton are all involved in the facilitation of movement and are also all subject to injury. Sports injuries are generally in the form of soft tissue injuries, which can be incorrectly loaded, ruptured, overused or degraded.
Some examples of common types of sports injury include:
- Muscle strain: occur when the muscle or tendon is pulled too far in one direction. This can occur from having weak muscles, forgetting to warm up, having stiff muscles, or from a fall. Strains are common in martial arts, football, soccer, and hockey.
- Contusions: results from a direct blow to the muscle/tissue. Commonly occurs in contact sports, such as rugby, martial arts and hockey.
- Tendonitis: occur when the tendon becomes overstressed and inflamed, often due to inappropriate equipment, faulty technique or loading and lack of flexibility. Tendinitis is common in tennis, golf, track and field and basketball.
- Ligament sprains: occur when the ligament is stretched beyond its normal physiological range. Common in soccer, football, hockey, boxing, and wrestling.
Who gets sporting injuries?
People of all ages and athletic skill level suffer from some form of sports injury at some time in their lives. Whether you are an amateur sports player or a top professional, your body is prone to the same types of injuries.
The various forms of football are responsible for the largest proportion of the total number of sports-related injuries in Australia requiring hospitalisation – nearly a third. Furthermore, of the football codes, Australian Rules and soccer had the highest population-based rates of injury hospitalisation, with 18 and 17 cases per 100,000 population, respectively. Indeed, sporting injuries are financial burden to the healthcare system, with an annual cost estimated at AUD$1.65 billion in Australia.
Interestingly, up to 50% of sports injuries are preventable, and if sporting injuries arise, conservative management can help to reduce pain and disability and reduce rates of re-injury.
Chiropractic management for sporting injuries
Sports chiropractors provide care in the conservative management, rehabilitation and optimisation of the neuromusculoskeletal system for the player to recover from injury and/or better performance. Chiropractors use a multimodal approach to manage patients with acute (sudden) and chronic (longstanding) sporting injures. Some of these modalities include, but are not limited to, soft tissue therapy, sports-specific strengthening and conditioning training, stretching exercises, manipulations and mobilisations, taping and advice on preventative measures for sport-specific injuries.
Chiropractic evidence-based practice combined with best medical practice in sports science management has a positive impact in reducing sporting injuries, such as hamstring strains, in athletic populations. Strengthening and eccentrically loading the hamstrings, coupled with specific stretching techniques and soft tissue massage, and improving the mobility and biomechanics of the low back, hip and knee can all help to reduce pain and disability in acute hamstring strains, and provide athletes with the tools to reduce their rate of re-injury.