5. Rotator Cuff
A rotator-cuff injury can be caused by a shoulder dislocation, a violent jerking of the arm, general wear and tear, or most notably, to baseball pitchers due to the forceful, repetitive, circular movement of the arm. Rotator cuff is a term used for tendons from four scapular (upper back) muscles that encapsulate the shoulder joint. These muscles are part of the scapula that sits on the back below the clavicle and under the posterior deltoid. The tendons from these muscles form a partial sleeve around the humerus, which allows a wide range of motion within that joint. Injuries to the rotator cuff are impingements, inflammation, strains, tendinitis or bursitis. For swimmers, baseball pitchers, tennis players and other athletes in sports where rotator cuff injuries are more common, consult a coach to make sure you’re using the proper form, as bad technique is responsible for many shoulder injuries. Pain or swelling is the first warning that an injury has occurred and a physical exam, MRI, X-ray or ultra-sound is needed to diagnose the type of injury to determine treatment. Treatment for rotator cuff injuries ranges from physical therapy to surgery, depending on the severity of the injury.
4. Achilles Tendon
The Achilles tendon extends from the calf muscle to the calcaneus (heel bone) and is the strongest tendon in the body. However, due to high tension and sudden stresses, this is a common site for injury in sports-related activities. Proper stretching before strenuous exercise can help reduce the risk of injury, but even then, the Achilles tendon can become inflamed and cause mild tenderness, which is treated with RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation) therapy. Micro-tears in the tendon will cause swelling, pain and limited movement, but can also be treated with RICE and sometimes a special boot depending on the severity of the tear. It’s critical to avoid activity at this point to prevent a rupture, which is when the tendon completely tears. A popping sound is usually the sound you’ll hear immediately before a rupture, followed by severe swelling and pain. Surgery is required to reattach the tendon.
3. Shin Splints
Shin splints is the common term used to describe pain on the front part of the leg below the knee. The medical term for this condition is Medial Tibial Syndrome and occurs due to an overload on the tibialis anterior muscle, which is the muscle that attaches to the front of the tibia. Injury often occurs from high-impact movements such as jumping, running, sprinting and agility training but can also occur from muscle imbalances in the lower leg. A good weight-training program and progressive sport-specific training will decrease the risk of shin splints but if you find yourself suffering from shin splints, rest, ice, anti-inflammatory options and stretching should help you recover quickly. One of the main causes of shin splits for regular exercisers is improper shoe support. If you engage in daily exercise or activity, be sure to replace your sneakers every four to six months. Your shoes may appear to be in good shape but the structure inside breaks down with time and activity. Putting off a trip to the shoe store to replace your sneakers may result in not only shin splints but serious foot issues as well.
The knee is the most-used joint in the body by virtue of routine daily movement. Ligaments and tendons along with the femur bone, patella and tibia all make up the knee joint to provide proper alignment and stability to the knee. Among the myriad of ligaments and tendons associated with the knee, the most common injuries occur to the ACL (anterior cruciate ligament), LCL (lateral collateral ligament) and the MCL (medial collateral ligament). Most injuries are sports-related but injury can also occur from overuse or work-related tasks. Inflammation, irritation, sprains, strains, tears, fracture and dislocation are common injuries and treatment ranges from rest for minor irritations to surgery for more severe injuries. Stay one step ahead with a good weight-training program to strengthen the quadriceps and hamstrings. Mix in sport-specific training, functional training, and polymeric exercises for a complete program that will support the complex knee joint and decrease the risk for injury.
1. Strains and Sprains
A muscle strain occurs when a tendon, which connects muscle to bone, is injured. Tendons are made up of fibrous strands of tissue that withstand tension on a daily basis. A sprain is when a ligament becomes stretched, torn or ruptures, weakening the ligament. Ligaments connect bones to other bones to form a joint and are made up of fibrous strands of tissue, much like a rope. A sprain can be the result of a fall, an unusual twisting of a joint or a movement that forces the body to move out of its natural alignment. Although the ankle is the most common joint injured, it certainly isn’t the only one. Swelling, tenderness, pain and bruising are symptoms that you have a sprain or strain and should first be treated with RICE (rest, ice, compression and elevation). For severe strains and sprains, treatment might require a cast or surgery, followed by rehabilitation.