SPORTS INJURY

Prevention and Rehabilitation of Sports Injury


Injury Prevention

There are various types of sports injury, with different sports affecting different parts of the body in varying degrees. To the athlete, injuries tend to be minor and chronic, with a few that can be serious and acute. Among the minor and chronic ones, some are caused by one-off acute injuries that have yet to completely recover before resuming training. There are also injuries caused by excessive workouts that overload local areas. Where fitness of the masses is concerned, the occurrence of sports injury between an exerciser and an athlete has its similarities and more largely so, differences as well.   Acute injuries tend to be more frequent than muscle strains.   Given the many types of sports injury, below are some preventive rules that can help to avoid injury or prevent it from happening:

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(1) Respect the general principle that physical training should be systematic and gradual. Athletes of different gender, age group and sports type must be treated differently whether or not they are injured. If there is no differentiation in terms of training intensity and strength, and the moves are the same for all, then the weaker athletes will get injured. One should avoid having a one-track mind training methodology.

(2) Focus on stretching exercises. Stretching exercises are targeted at the muscles and soft tissues before, during and after sports, with the purpose of fully relaxing these areas. This will help in the recovery of tired muscles, prevention of muscle sprains and maintenance of muscle elasticity, so as to prevent sports skills from becoming stiff and distorted. Pre-training stretching is proactive and aims to reduce the internal adhesiveness of the muscles and soft tissues, improve muscle elasticity and increase muscle temperature, so as to prevent muscle sprains during sports. Post-training stretching is reactive and seeks to relax stiff and tired muscles, accelerate the discharge of metabolites within the muscles, alleviate muscle soreness and expedite physical recovery.

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(3) Strengthen protection and help during sports. In order to prevent injury, it is important to know how we can protect ourselves. For example, when falling from height, keep our legs closed to protect our knees and ankles from getting hurt. Learn to roll over to buffer a fall against the ground. Also learn how to use the various support bands.

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(4) A proactive way to prevent sports injury is to strengthen areas that are prone to injury or the relatively weaker areas, enhancing their functions. For example, to prevent waist injury, one can train on the lumbar muscles, strengthen them and enhance the balance between muscle coordination and resistance.

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(5) Focus on small muscle group training. The human body is composed of large and small muscle groups. The small muscle group is useful for fusion of the joints. It is easy to neglect these small muscle groups as most people tend to focus on large muscle groups. This results in an imbalance of the muscle strengths, thereby increasing the chances of injury. Small muscle group training mainly uses light-weight dumbbells or rubber rallies. Training on the upper body with heavy weights would usually do more harm than good. In addition, small muscle group training should be done with other types of sports, and the movements require high precision.

(6) Focus on exercises that stabilize the body centre. The stability of the body centre refers to the strength and stability of the pelvis and the trunk. Such stability is critical to all complicated sports. Nevertheless, traditional body centre training is mainly done on fixed and flat surfaces, such as sit-up, that is common but not really effective. Training of the body centre should include both bending and rotation exercises of the abdomen.

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(7) Monitor yourself closely using unique methods suited to specific sports. For example, with exercises that are prone to patella strain, we can test by standing single-legged in a knee-bent position. If the knee hurts or feels soft, then it is “yang” in nature. For exercises that are prone to shoulder joint injury, we can test with anti-bow movements (lift the shoulder up 170 degrees and thus push back with force). If there is pain, then it is “yang” in nature. Those who suffer from stress fracture of the tibia and fibula or peritendinitis should do the “pointed feet stomps backwards” test. If pain is felt, then it is “yang” in nature.

(8) Create a safe environment for training: Sports equipment, facilities and venue should be checked for safety thoroughly prior to training. For example, before commencing tennis training, the racket’s weight, thickness of the handle and firmness of the racket strings should be checked to ensure fitness for the user. Ladies should not wear necklaces, ear-rings and sharp objects during training. The athlete should also choose footwear that befits the sports intended, keeping in consideration the size of the feet, arch of the feet and its elasticity.

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Injury Rehabilitation

Rehabilitation refers to physical activities that are done after an injury, aimed at restoring or improving bodily functions. While serious injuries would need rest for recovery, one does not need to completely suspend physical exercises when suffering from general injuries. Physical exercises that are appropriate and scientific are particularly useful for healing and functional recovery.

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  1. Objectives of Rehabilitation

(1) Maintain the physique in good form. Rehabilitation can prevent atrophy and contracture of the muscles, promote the functional capability of the limbs and that of the heart and lungs.   Once the injury is healed, one will then be able to resume normal training immediately.

(2) Prevent “stop-training” syndrome. The human body under long-term physical training would have built up conditioned reflexes. Once training stops, these reflexes may be damaged, resulting in serious disorders such as neurasthenia, gastric dilatation or gastrointestinal tract disorder.

(3) Post-injury rehabilitative exercises can help to strengthen the joints and improve the metabolism and nutrition of the injured tissues, thereby speeding up the healing process from a wholesome perspective that integrates function, form and structure.

(4) With post-injury rehabilitative training, the energy metabolism will be stabilized, preventing weight increase and reducing the time needed to resume training after recovery.

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  1. Principles of Rehabilitative Training

(1) Accurate Diagnosis.  A scientific and reasonable rehabilitation program must be based upon accurate and complete diagnosis of the condition. Any inaccurate or incomplete diagnosis will delay or hinder the rehabilitative process. If the athlete is suffering from lumbar spondylolysis with a herniated disk, it will not be advisable to exert force on the side during tui-na manipulation. If spondylolisthesis is present at the same time, when training the back muscles, one must be cautious not to over-stretch.

(2) Personalized approach. The training methodology, closed stance and amount of training should be planned according to the individual’s age, illness and functional state in order that muscle functions (strength, speed and endurance) and the range of joint motion can be developed and enhanced.

(3) Post-injury rehabilitation programme must be carried out on the premise that it will not aggravate the injury or affect the healing process. It is best not to stop full body or localized body movements. It is also advisable to commence rehabilitation training of the injured muscles as early as possible.

(4) A rehabilitation training programme should be holistic, implemented step-by-step and suited for high volume of exercise. During the healing process, the degree, frequency, duration and the load of rehabilitative training should be increased in a gradual pace. Otherwise, it will not only aggravate the injury or delay its recovery, but more so, cause the unhealed injury to develop into a stubborn injury. Rehabilitative training should focus on local specialized training integrated with full body movement. During the initial stage of the injury, due to localized swelling and hyperaemia causing pain and disruption to movement, the focus should be placed on full body movement. Appropriate localized movement may be exercised if it does not aggravate the swelling and pain of the pain spot. As time goes, the injury begins to heal; the amount and time of localized movement may increase in stages.

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