Sports Injury Rehab.

It is common knowledge that all athletes are subject to pre-participation evaluations (PPE’s) before being medically cleared to participate in their sport of choice. Although this physical examination is required, and necessary for ruling out specific red flags, or contraindications to physical activity, little is focused on the actual ‘prevention’ of injury.

In addition to their unique approach and treatment of soft-tissue injuries, one of the qualities that separate BlueChip Spine’s approach from the conventional method is their evaluation of specific movement patterns that can highly predict susceptibility to potential injuries before they happen!

There are basically 2 types of injuries: acute injuries and chronic (overuse) injuries. Acute injuries are usually the result of a single, traumatic event. Common examples include: wrist fractures, ankle sprains, shoulder dislocations and hamstring strains.

While overuse injuries are more common in sports than acute injuries, they are subtle and usually occur over time, making them challenging to diagnose and treat. They are the result of repetitive micro-trauma to the tendons, ligaments, bones, joints and fascia. Common examples of overuse injuries include: carpal tunnel, tennis elbow, swimmer’s shoulder, pitching elbow, runner’s knee (IT band syndrome), jumper’s knee, Achilles tendonitis, plantar fasciitis and shin splints.

So How Do Injuries Occur?

In a nutshell, whether acute, or overuse, an injury is simply the body’s inability to absorb force. If the tissue cannot absorb the force being applied to it, sprain/strain, and even fracture can occur. The human body has a tremendous capacity to adapt to physical stress.

We tend to think of “stress” in the context of its negative effect on our emotional wellbeing, but physical stress, which is simply exercise and activity, is beneficial for our bones, muscles, tendons, and ligaments, making them stronger and more functional. This happens because of an internal process called remodeling. The remodeling process involves both the breakdown and buildup of tissue.

There is a fine balance between the two, and if breakdown occurs more rapidly than buildup, an overuse injury occurs. Training errors are often times the most common cause of overuse injuries. These errors involve rapid acceleration in intensity, duration, or frequency of activity in combination with shortened ranges of motion. Overuse injuries also happen in people who are returning to a sport, or activity after injury and try to make up for lost time by pushing themselves to achieve the level of performance they possessed before injury occurred.

Proper technique is critical in avoiding overuse injuries, as slight changes in form may be the culprit. Some people are more prone than others to experience overuse injuries. Imbalances between strength, flexibility and pliability around certain joints can alter specific movement patterns and predispose individuals to injury.

Body alignment, such as knock-knees, bowlegs, unequal leg-lengths and flat, or high arched feet, may also impact a person’s susceptibility. Many people may also have weak kinetic links due to old injuries, incompletely rehabilitated injuries, or other anatomic factors. Other factors to consider include: equipment, such as the type of running shoe, and terrain – hard vs. soft surface in aerobic, dance, or running activities.

BlueChip Spine’s ability to screen for specific movement patterns that often times become deficient and precede an injury is just as vital to an athlete as the PPE itself. Understanding that there is a definitive difference between ‘flexibility’ and ‘pliability’ can help ensure an athlete’s chance of minimizing potential onset of acute, or overuse injuries and improve optimal performance while decreasing recovery/rehabilitation time.