When you participate in a sport, even if it is just for fun, you can end up putting unprecedented levels of stress on your body. Whether you are an amateur athlete or a professional, you can experience injury as a result of your chosen sport. Repeated stressed can cause a slight loss of proper movement in the spine and/or joints, and this can compromise your muscles and connective tissues, preventing them from working as efficiently as they could. Not only will this make it hard, if not impossible for you to continue with your chosen sport, it could also have a detrimental impact on your day to day life. This is especially true if you have tried to ignore the pain and delayed receiving treatment.
Understandably, many athletes are keen to avoid taking painkillers and undergoing invasive surgery unless absolutely necessary. Orthopedic physical therapy focuses on the rehabilitation of injuries to the musculoskeletal system, which incorporates the muscles, joints, bones, ligaments, and tendons. It is primarily involved with strengthening the musculoskeletal system to not only help you to recover from sports and orthopedic injuries but to make them less likely to occur in the future too. Regular physical therapy sessions are proven to help athletes reach and surpass their performance goals.
Orthopedic injuries may be the most common type sustained during sport, but there are also some specific sports-related orthopedic injuries that we see more often than others. These include the following:
Tennis elbow. Despite being called a tennis elbow, this injury can affect any athlete who overuses this joint and is characterized by pain and degeneration of the tendon on the outside of the elbow. A similar injury is known as golfer’s elbow, which affects the tendons on the inside of the elbow instead.
ACL sprains and tears. The ACL is the anterior cruciate ligament. Found in the knee, it most often becomes injured in sports that involve sudden stops or changes in direction, jumping, and landing – for example, football, basketball, soccer, ice hockey, and skiing.
Muscle pulls. It’s possible to pull virtually any muscle in the body, and it frequently happens when the body is under strain, such as when participating in a sporting activity. The most common muscle injury affects the hamstring, which is the long muscle that runs from the bend of the knee, up the back of the leg to the buttocks.
Shoulder injuries. As many as 20% of sporting injuries affect the shoulder, including strains, sprains, dislocations, and even fractures. Some of the sporting activities in which shoulder injuries are most common include volleyball, swimming, football, weightlifting, and throwing athletics.
Ankle injuries. Most of us have turned over our ankle at some point during our lifetime and ankle injuries, which include tendon and ligament tears and sprains, are particularly likely in people who play sports such as basketball, baseball, hockey, and soccer where rapid movement and sudden changes of direction can occur.
Achilles tendon injuries. The Achilles tendon is the strongest and largest tendon in the body, connecting the muscles in your calf to your heel bone. Achilles tendon injuries tend to occur if you land badly after a jump, or because you aren’t exercising frequently enough and you suddenly increase your activity level.
There is a range of reasons why you should consider orthopedic physical therapy to treat and prevent sports and other orthopedic injuries.
Faster recovery from your injury
Treatment of the cause of the injury, rather than just the symptoms it creates
Reduction in the pain that you are experiencing, and in turn, reducing your need for pain medications
Reduction in inflammation and swelling
Improved mobility of your joints
Building strength in your muscles
Improved balance and coordination
Maintaining and improving flexibility
Improving overall athletic capability and potential
Your physical therapist can also give you valuable advice about the best way to warm up/cool down before exercise, help ensure you are performing movements correctly, and support you in creating a diet that is beneficial for joint health and athletic performance.
If you would like to find out more about how physical therapy can help with sports injuries, please don’t hesitate to contact our practice to make an appointment with our experienced physical therapy team in North Massapequa, NY.