Sport can make various physical demands on the body.  It is vital for an elite athlete to look at all components.

The sportsperson often sustains injuries; these include sprains of ligaments, strains of muscles as well as overuse of joints and an imbalance between muscle groups. Our physiotherapists are trained to treat acute sprains/strains as well as identify imbalance and overuse injuries. These are tackled with sport specific assessments and individual strengthening programs.

Sports rehabilitation often includes soft tissue treatment of the affected muscle (as well as connective tissue affected), joint mobilisations and oedema management with electro-therapy. Strapping can be used as an added support and retraining guide.

Advice: this includes a gradual increase in the intensity of exercise and a balance in training programs for flexibility, control, stability and strength. Every sportsperson should attend to injuries sooner rather than later. Early intervention often results in a quicker return to sport.

ITB Syndrome

ITB syndrome is short for Iliotibial Band syndrome. Pain is experienced on the outside of the knee and can at times radiate up the leg. This could be as a result of a “too much, too soon’’ training regime or muscle imbalance. The treatment is to amend the training regime and assist with treating the affected soft tissue. The focus is aimed to correct the imbalance through stretching, strengthening and stability training.

Advice: see image above for ITB stretches. This could be used in conjunction with ice on the painful area, in the acute phase.

Ligament Tear/Sprain

Ligaments are the connective tissue that connect the two bones; this gives stability to the joint. Ligament injuries can be classified as grade 1-3 tears. A grade 1 tear is characterised by minimal swelling. A grade 2 tear has more swelling, bruising and at times can make weight bearing difficult. A complete tear or grade 3 tear is when all fibres are torn and severe swelling and bruising are visible. The initial treatment includes prevention of further injury and managing pain and inflammation. One of our main aims as physiotherapists is to prevent this type of injury to reoccur; this can be done through final rehabilitation and proprioception.

Advice: currently there are two schools of thought for an acute injury. Your physiotherapist will guide you on which regime to follow. The Protection, Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation (PRICE) regime or the Movement, Exercise, Analgesics and Therapy (MEAT) regime.

Muscle Tear/Strain

Muscles are connected to the bone by tendon attachments. The bulk of the muscle can have various tears/strains. These too can be classified according to the severity of the sprain. As with ligament injuries, initial treatment is to prevent further injury as well as to manage pain and inflammation. Once this has settled, strengthening and return to function is the priority. It is also vital to find the cause of the injury.

Advice: currently there are two schools of thought for an acute injury. Your physiotherapist will guide you on which regime to follow. The Protection, Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation (PRICE) regime or the Movement, Exercise, Analgesics and Therapy (MEAT) regime.

Overuse Injuries

Overuse injuries occur in the sportsperson due to the repetitive nature of that specific sport. These usually develop over time and have a component of incorrect technique or form, as well as muscle imbalance and weakness. Example of overuse injuries include rotator cuff syndrome, adductor strain or tendinopathy, recurrent hamstring strain, tennis elbow and patella tendinopathy, to name a few.

Advice: seek medical assessment and treatment sooner rather than later. It is very important to identify the cause of the injury.

Rehabilitation and Performance

To prevent recurrent injuries, one should complete a rehabilitation program in full. Imbalance and weakness can cause dysfunction and correcting this can improve performance. This is sport and patient specific, so speak to your physiotherapist about individualised rehabilitation and performance enhancing programs.

Shoulder Pain

The shoulder is a complex joint as it requires multiple joints working together to give you full function. Shoulder injuries can be acute or as a result of overuse. Overhead athletes often develop instabilities and swimmers can complain of shoulder pain due to muscle shortening. However your physiotherapist can evaluate and treat all shoulder related injuries.

As there are several structures that could be affected and the severity of this condition needs to be assessed, having an assessment done is best for the outcome of the injury.

Advice: acute shoulder pain can be treated with the above mentioned PRICE or MEAT regime.

Tennis Elbow

Lateral epicondylitis is the medical term for what is commonly known as tennis elbow. This is an overuse injury, usually as a result of poor technique, grip size or incorrect training. Tennis elbow can also develop in the non-athletic individual as a result of repetitive strain for example the type of work or training regimes at the gym. The tendon that attaches the muscle in the forearm to the bone of the elbow, is affected and this causes pain. There are many beneficial techniques and home exercise programs that may help.

Advice: self massage of the forearm and ice treatment over the painful area can assist.