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3 Common Sports Injuries That Can Be Treated with Physiotherapy

Participating in sports is an integral part of healthy living – it’s excellent for your cardiovascular system, amazing for your muscular system, beneficial for your cognitive health, and so much more. With all of its great benefits, the last thing one would imagine to happen is to get injured in an attempt to be healthy. Unfortunately, this is a common occurrence.

Physical activities are naturally strenuous to the body. Compounded by wrong techniques, accidents, and physical trauma, exercise can cause significant injuries if you are not careful. If lucky, your injuries do not go beyond bruises and scabs, all of which are a quick fix. If not, sports injuries, minor or otherwise, will not only cause harm then and there. It can also exacerbate and affect one’s overall biomechanics, resulting in earlier degenerative changes to joints. As such, it is important to be aware of ways to prevent them and the recovery options available so that you know where to seek treatment early.

Reasons Why Sports Injuries Can Occur

Sports injuries occur for a various number of reasons, including:

  • Overuse: Overuse injuries are caused by repetitive trauma, typically stemming from training errors as well as technique errors.
  • Insufficient warm-up: The purpose of warm-ups is to prepare the body for physical activity and prevent injuries by loosening your joints and improving blood flow to your muscles for optimal efficiency and flexibility. Insufficient warm-ups will cause your body to be ill-prepared for exercise, making it susceptible to injuries.
  • Overextension of muscles and strain to the ligaments: Stretching your muscles or ligaments way beyond their physical capacity and normal range of motion can cause significant tears.
  • Accidents: These are injuries caused by direct impact or the application of force that is greater than the body part can structurally withstand.

Physiotherapy as the Primary Treatment

Despite knowing the causes of sports injuries and taking the necessary precautions, some injuries are bound to happen. Physiotherapy, alongside other conservative management treatments, is the primary approach to treating most sports injuries. In addition to assisting in the recovery, sports physiotherapy helps to speed up the process and ensure that the injury does not get too complicated in the future. It also helps to improve one’s overall cardiovascular fitness during the recovery phase, to ensure that the patient can jump back into physical activities once they have recovered.

Common Sports Injuries

1. Knee Injuries

The knee is one of the most commonly injured parts of the body. In fact, 32.6% of all sports injuries involve the knee, with 20-25% of knee injuries occurring while performing sports.

The knee is a very complicated joint. It endures a lot of impact and wear during sports activities, particularly in sports where there is a lot of high impact and collision, or where there are a lot of abrupt movements. Tears of the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and an abnormality of the patellofemoral joint, otherwise known as “runner’s knee”, are common problems for many athletes. Knee injuries, no matter what form they take, can be painful and debilitating.

During a physiotherapy session, your therapist may employ massage techniques to manipulate the muscles and tendons around the knee. Any congestion of metabolic irritants is reduced, allowing the muscles to relax. This, along with the endorphins released during the massage, will reduce the pain and discomfort. By relaxing the muscles, it also helps to mitigate and relieve any stiffness of the knee, limiting the stress upon the joints. Once the muscles are soft and relaxed, your physiotherapist may carry out gentle exercises on the knee to help rebuild the damaged tissue. This will help to strengthen and improve the condition of the initial injury. Since the knee needs to be strong enough to support the tendons, ligaments, and kneecap, strengthening exercises are incredibly important to reduce any possibility of reinjury. With regular physiotherapy sessions, you will regain mobility, flexibility, and strength in your knee. If such a conservative treatment does not yield results, you may need to consider surgery to correct it.

2. Tendonitis

Tendonitis, otherwise known as tendinitis, is the inflammation of a tendon. It typically occurs when a person overuses or injures a tendon. The affected area will appear swollen and red, and the pain will only worsen each time you try to move. Tendonitis can occur at any part of the body, but the most common amongst the different types is Achilles tendonitis. It’s especially common amongst runners, soccer and basketball players, where abrupt, repetitive jumping and sprinting movements are pervasive.

Apart from icing your injury and resting, you will need to reduce the inflammation around the area to properly kick start your recovery. With plenty of hands-on treatments, physiotherapy helps to remove swelling and release the tension in the surrounding muscles. This allows both the tendons and muscles to fit themselves into the grooves and positions they were designed to be in. Likewise, recovery is not complete without strengthening exercise. This is done via eccentric (lengthening) muscle contraction, a procedure wherein a force is applied to the muscle to force the lengthening of the muscle-tendon system whilst contracting. If the problem still continues, you may want to consult a sports doctor or consider shockwave therapy. Worst case scenario, you may need to undergo surgery.

3. Stress Fractures

A stress fracture is an overuse injury that appears as tiny cracks in a bone. They are commonly seen in athletes – stress fractures comprise up to 10% of all sports injuries, and is especially prevalent amongst long-distance runners.

The most important treatment to heal stress fractures is rest. You are advised to cease or modify any activities that may increase stress on the legs for at least three weeks. During this period, your physiotherapist will determine the cause of the stress fracture, whether it was due to training load, poor biomechanics, muscle tightness, or joint stiffness. This will determine the treatment that will be employed. Management also includes strength training to stimulate tissue adaptation and increase the capacity of the lower limb to absorb the load.

In addition to the muscle-strengthening exercises, other physiotherapy treatments can be employed if deemed necessary. Treatments such as soft tissue release may be recommended to improve shock absorption and biomechanics when running. If stiff joints are determined to be an issue, joint mobilisation may be included in the recovery regimen so as to prevent overload of the joint near the affected area. Depending on your unique condition and goals, your physical therapist will design an individualised treatment programme that will aid in your recovery and prevent the likelihood of reinjury. If the symptoms do not improve, surgery may be required.

Rapid Physiocare: Helping You Pave Your Road to Recovery

At Rapid Physiocare, we wish to give you the much-needed care and support you need in order to get back in the game and reclaim the quality of life you once had. Apart from aiming to restore your body to full function, our sports physiotherapy also works to manage pain and discomfort caused by your sports injury, improving your cardiovascular fitness and strengthening your muscle groups as you temporarily cease your physical activities. On top of curating an exercise regime specially tailored to your needs, our team of experienced physiotherapists will also create a rehabilitation programme that you can employ even at home to help speed up your recovery process.

Gain back your full mobility and book an appointment with us today! Better yet, head down to our physiotherapy clinics in Singapore to get started straight away.

References

Fong, D. T., Chan, Y. Y., Mok, K. M., Yung, P. S., & Chan, K. M. (2009). Understanding acute ankle ligamentous sprain injury in sports. BMC Sports Science, Medicine and Rehabilitation, 1(1), 1-14.

Heiderscheit, B. C., Sherry, M. A., Silder, A., Chumanov, E. S., & Thelen, D. G. (2010). Hamstring strain injuries: recommendations for diagnosis, rehabilitation, and injury prevention. journal of orthopaedic & sports physical therapy, 40(2), 67-81.

Majewski, M., Susanne, H., & Klaus, S. (2006). Epidemiology of athletic knee injuries: A 10-year study. The knee, 13(3), 184-188.

Robertson, G. A., & Wood, A. M. (2017). Lower limb stress fractures in sport: optimising their management and outcome. World journal of orthopedics, 8(3), 242.

Yeung, M. S., Chan, K. M., So, C. H., & Yuan, W. Y. (1994). An epidemiological survey on ankle sprain. British journal of sports medicine, 28(2), 112-116.