Common Sporting Injury & How To Get Help | Physical Therapy

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When Sport Bites Back: Common Sporting Injuries

Common Sporting Injuries & Physical Therapy

Sport Can Hurt!

Participating in a sport comes highly recommended as a way of keeping yourself in shape, building muscle, and maintaining a healthy heart. Sports also brings a slice of social activity into our lives while being a great time too.

However, the double-edged sword to all of these welcome gains is that physical activity also increases our risk of injury. From landing awkwardly in a fall to trying to lift a weight beyond our ability, accidentally colliding with another athlete or forgetting to do post-training stretches, there are numerous ways that sports can hurt.  

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Physical Therapists Possess Expert Knowledge on Sports Injuries

Sports Injury Therapy Harrisburg

Physical therapists frequently assist patients who’ve accumulated a painful reminder of an exercise session gone wrong.  Despite the sheer variety of sports, as well as training techniques and individual athlete ability, there are certain sports injuries that are seen over and over again. 

In this two-part blog, we start the countdown of the top 10 sports injuries seen at Cardin & Miller Physical Therapy clinics. 


Sciatica Relief Carlisle

Pain that stems from the lower back before radiating down through the buttocks and leg is typically caused by a condition known as sciatica.  

The sciatic nerves are the largest within the body, with one located in each leg. Sciatic pain usually only affects one side of the body and is often accompanied by back spasms as well as tingling and the feeling of heaviness within the affected leg.

Sciatica symptoms usually worsen with movements such as sitting down or when getting up from a lying down or seated position.

The condition generally affects those aged 40 or above and is usually aggravated by forward movement of the spine or frequent raising of the arms above shoulder level. Among athletes, sciatica tends to be a complaint for those who enjoy running, cycling, tennis and golf.  

Physical therapy offers a non-surgical solution for sciatica and will generally focus on stretching and strengthening the area around the problematic sciatic nerve.  This encompasses the muscles of the lower back, buttocks, hip and abdomen.

In turn, this will increase your overall core strength and gradually reduce the pressure on the sciatic nerve.

To combat the pain that may be experienced as strength within your core builds, a physical therapist will likely use heat therapy and cold presses too. These strategies encourage increased blood flow, bringing restorative oxygen and nutrients into the area being treated.

Deep tissue massage may also form part of your treatment plan.

Before completing your program, a Physical Therapist will aim to improve your posture and the way you move within your sporting activities in-order to prevent a reoccurrence of sciatica. 

Achilles Tendinitis

Sports Injury, Achilles Tendinitis & Physical Therapy

The largest tendon in the body is known as the Achilles, and it serves to connect the heel with the calf muscle. Whenever you walk, run, jump, climb stairs or stand up on your tiptoes, you are making use of this strong tendon.

Given the range of movements that the Achilles facilitates, it should perhaps come as no surprise that there are also many ways that injury here – referred to as Achilles Tendinitis –  can occur.  

In Greek mythology, Achilles was a renowned warrior who died thanks to a poisoned arrow striking one of his heels. This is where the tendon here has gained its name from. Informed athletes dread Achilles Tendinitis as the resulting pain can quickly negate training schedules and wreak havoc with sporting performance.

Runners are particularly prone to this issue.

If you are experiencing pain and a feeling of tightness around the heel and calf, particularly during and after exercise, in combination with swelling, you’ve likely developed this troublesome condition. 

Often, Achilles Tendinitis comes about thanks to inadequate stretching before and after exercise sessions, unsuitable footwear, tight calf muscles, or a sudden increase in activity levels.  All of these factors put increased stress on the Achilles and contribute to overuse of the tendon.  

Physical therapy can assist with Achilles Tendinitis in many ways. First, a Physical Therapist will begin by examining your training habits and footwear for clues as to why the condition has arisen.  Next, to counteract the pain, you may be offered soft-tissue massage or ultrasound therapy. 

Your Physical Therapist will also teach you various movements and stretches that will strengthen the calf muscles, thereby reducing the load being handled by the Achilles tendon.  Finally, a Physical Therapist may also work with you on your walking or running technique to prevent future reoccurrence.

Shin Splints

Shin Splints When PLaying Sport

Shin splints are an incredibly common affliction for those who have intently just embarked on a new training program or participated in sports involving a lot of repetitive, high-impact movements through the legs.

Shin splints are both painful and annoying for the problem develops surprisingly rapidly, thoroughly wrecking our plans and enthusiasm for exercise in the process!

This condition is felt as both an ache in the front of the leg as well as shooting pain down the shin bones during exercise.  It is a frequent grumble of long-distance walkers, runners and dancers, as well as soccer and basketball players.

More formally known as tenoperiostitis, shin splints are either the result of inflammation where tendons attach to the shins or stress fractures within the bones themselves.

Despite how excruciating shin splints can be, many athletes do not seek expert help for the problem.

This is partly because it is such a frequent complaint among more active individuals, almost to the point of being considered normal when sudden increases in the amount of exercise are undertaken.

However, consulting a Physical Therapist is a wise move because there may be a good reason why shin splints are bothering you. You may have embarked on too ambitious an exercise plan or be training with inadequate footwear, and a Physical Therapist can make recommendations that will easily remedy these problems.

Alternatively, there may be a more serious stress fracture present that requires a doctor’s attention.

A Physical Therapist can diagnose exactly what’s going on and why before prescribing you an appropriate treatment. This may include strengthening your lower leg muscles, improving the way that you walk or run, advising on diet and footwear or referring you to a medical specialist.

A Physical Therapist can also advise on helpful stretches before and after exercise to ensure that shin splints don’t return when getting back to the sport you love.


Sporting Injury - Sprains

If you’re dealing with a sudden and surprisingly painful injury to the ankle, wrist, knee or elbow, you’re likely dealing with the after-effects of a sprain. This is one of the most frequent injuries within sports, happening when a ligament near a joint becomes either stretched or torn.

Symptoms include notable pain, swelling and bruising in the affected area. Another common outcome is to find yourself unable to bear any weight on or through the affected joint.

Athletes incur sprains through unexpected falls, awkward landings, and unusual twisting motions, while poor warm-up and warm-down techniques significantly increase the risk of a sprain occurring.

Of the various types of sprains, those to the ankle are the most frequently referred for physical therapy.

A Physical Therapist will be able to easily diagnose a sprain as well as assist with immobilizing the affected joint to prevent further injury.  You may also be offered soft-tissue massage, helping to reduce stiffness and scarred tissue.

Because ligaments tend to remain weaker for some time after a sprain, your Physical Therapist will be happy to advise on your return to sports and may encourage the use of a brace in future activity.

Muscle Strains

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A woman has sprained her ankle while hiking, her friend uses the first aid kit to tend to the injury

Keeping us busy within our physical therapy clinics and accounting for up to 55% of all sporting injuries overall are muscle strains.  

You will usually feel a muscle strain as soon as you’ve gained one, for these occur when muscle fibers are pushed beyond their limit and subsequently tear.

Athletes, across all sorts of sporting disciplines, are particularly prone to this type of injury as the muscles work incredibly hard while supporting our weight, propelling us forwards, lifting external weights and, providing cushioning to the bones as we move.

Symptoms of a strain include discomfort within the affected muscle as well as bruising and swelling. You may also find that the muscle appears unusually weak and that your range of motion with it is noticeably affected. You may also experience spasms within the muscle that has been injured.

Sports that involve rapid acceleration or deceleration will usually affect the hamstring, quadricep and gastrocnemius muscles.  For those who lift weights, the biceps and back muscles are particularly vulnerable to damage.  

In addition to advising rest, a Physical Therapist may offer treatment with heat and compresses, taping, dry-needling, and soft-tissue massage. In addition, they will work with you on some stretching and strengthening exercises to aid the muscle in its natural recovery.

Don’t Suffer In Silence With Your Sports Injury

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Understanding physical structures within the body, how and why they go wrong, and how to remedy discomfort is what a Physical Therapist excels at, so you would be in very good hands when it comes to tackling a sports injury.  

Being well-versed in the strengths and weaknesses of the human body, a Physical Therapist – can precisely diagnose what injury you’re dealing with, as well as formulate a personalized rehabilitation plan to get you giving it your all in sports, just as you did before.

Any of this sound like your injury you are currently dealing with? Reach out to us. We can help you.

Brian Cardin

Brian Cardin

Brian has been practicing Physical Therapy since 1994. Most of his therapy career has been spent in Central Pennsylvania, with a 2 year hiatus in Central Ohio. His undergraduate schooling was done locally at Central Penn College, Slippery Rock University, and Penn State at Harrisburg. His professional training as a Physical Therapist was completed at the University of Findlay, in Findlay, Ohio. He received his pedorthic training at Temple University's School of Podiatric Medicine. The bulk of his therapy career has consisted of outpatient orthopedic care in the private practice setting. Brian has extensive experience working with clients with a variety of orthopedic ailments ranging from foot pain to jaw problems. His particular area of interest, however, is working with clients with foot and lower extremity dysfunction. By combining his experience as a Physical Therapist and a Certified Pedorthist, he is able to provide a unique service to our clients.
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