Common sporting injuries

Written by: 
Simon Crompton, medical writer & author

Golfer's/tennis elbow

Both are caused by inflammationThe body’s response to injury. of the forearm tendons, which stretch over the elbow joint. Golfer’s elbow (medial epicondylitis) is pain on the inside of theelbow, radiating down the forearm. Tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis) is pain on the outside of the elbow, also radiating down the arm.

Who gets it? Anyone who has been gripping a club, racket, canoe paddle, a weight,or gardening implement too hard.

How to avoid? Make sure that the object you are gripping is not too big or small for your hand. Take breaks and stretch your arms.

How to treat? Apply an ice-pack for 10 minutes every couple of hours. You may need to see a doctor or pharmacist for an anti-inflammatoryAny drug that suppresses inflammation gel or tablets, or even a steroid injection.

Low-back pain

Up to 20 per cent of injuries involve the lower back or neck.

Who gets it? Home exercisers and gym visitors are particularly vulnerable to low-back pain because repetitive impact (for example, from running) or bearing weights at the edges of your comfort zone can cause damage in the lower (lumbar) region. Often the cause is a strained muscleTissue made up of cells that can contract to bring about movement..

How to avoid? Exercise should actually help you to protect your lower back but strengthening exercises need to be controlled and built up carefully, so expert advice from a fitness instructor is important.

How to treat? The main thing is to identify the cause. It could be anything from a pulled ligament to a slipped disc. See a properly qualified physiotherapistA healh professional who specialises in physical therapies, such as exercise, massage and manipulation., doctor or osteopath.

Runner's knee

Apain at the front or side of the knee. If it’s at the front, it is possibly being caused by damage to the cartilage behind the kneecap (chondromalacia). On the outside of the knee it is likely to be iliotibial band friction syndrome(ITBFS) — a strip of fibrous tissue running down the outside of the leg hasbecome irritated by overuse.

Who gets it? Joggers are susceptible. Pounding streets can damage cartilage, and constant bending of the legs can cause ITBFS, which is why cyclists get it too.

How to avoid? Don’t overdo it. Run on surfaces with some give and stretch well before exercising.

How to treat? Drastically cut down the exercise, at least until the pain eases. The best thing is to see a sports physiotherapistA healh professional who specialises in physical therapies, such as exercise, massage and manipulation..

Calf strain

A mild strain can feel like cramp or tightness, or a complete tear can produce a sharp pain and a change in muscleTissue made up of cells that can contract to bring about movement. shape. You will know when you have a calf strain if it is painful to stand on your toes.

Who gets it? It is commonly caused by running, particularly if you take off quickly without having warmed up properly.

How to avoid? Warm up well before exercise — muscleTissue made up of cells that can contract to bring about movement. tissue can extend farther when it is warm. Injuries are generally more likely if you become fatigued or dehydrated.

How to treat? Rest is important, otherwise the tear can get worse. Immediately after the injury, apply a cold pack, raise the leg, and perhaps apply a compression bandage to prevent swelling.

Blisters

Blisters are a clever form of self-protection. When skin is damaged by friction, fluid is released from bloodA fluid that transports oxygen and other substances through the body, made up of blood cells suspended in a liquid. vessels below the danger zone to form a cushion, protecting the lower layers of skin from further damage.

Who gets it? Anyone performing a repetitive task they’re not used to, or from wearing new shoes or kit.

How to avoid? Wear the correct size shoes, keep your feet dry, and wear polyesteror acrylic socks rather than cotton or wool. Invest in special blister-proofsocks or blister plasters.

How to treat? Don’t prick a blister. Just protect it so that it doesn’t become damaged, and let it do its work of protecting your foot until it goes away. Ifit bursts, just apply a sterile dressing.

(c) Simon Crompton   www.simoncrompton.com