Sports Injuries


We are told to exercise regularly in order to keep healthy. But what if a minor or a major injury is stopping you from doing what you want to do. From the professional sports person to the weekend warrior or occasional gym user, muscle and joint injuries are likely to occur. These can range from mild strains to the career ending injury. So where do you go for treatment to prevent injuries from occurring? You could give your chiropractor a visit.

Sports Performance

Injury is not the only problem sports chiropractors help the serious amateur or professional sportsman or woman. Many people find that they reach the threshold of their ability and cannot improve no matter how hard or how much time they train. This is where serious sportsmen and women are consulting their chiropractor – to look in to how to get everything working better – improving both function and health. You may not have an actual ache or pain, but still a chiropractor can test and see if you have an undetected joint, muscle or nerve dysfunction hampering you.

Let us look at an example. A runner may have taken hundreds of strides then one day pulls their hamstring for no apparent reason. It may not be that they didn’t warm-up properly, but more of an underlying, undetected dysfunction finally surfacing. If to say their joints were becoming dysfunctional from the repetitive stress then the nerves would become stimulated to tighten muscles to act as protection from further stress or injury. Also the nerve signal may be ‘weakened’ functionally to the hamstring from this joint dysfunction. This may causethe muscle contraction not be timed with the other leg muscle groups resulting in a strain.

Your chiropractor could help to identify these underlying joint-nerve-muscle dysfunctions through a chiropractic examination. As soon as the dysfunctions are detected then the road to recovery or prevention of sport injuries becomes quicker and easier.

Tips for Injury Prevention

To prevent injury, having proper technique of the sport you do will lower the risk. Preparing your body for the exercise will also lower the risk. This involves ‘warming-up’ the sport specific muscles. So many times all that is done is static stretching where a muscle is lengthened for a period of time and then you want to exert it. Best would be to leave the static stretching till after the event and focus on sport specific warm- up.

  • If you run in the sport do some light jogging for 5-10 min before
  • Cyclists can use a stationary bike before a race
  • Throwing sports require the action without the ball then with the ball
  • Racquet sports such as tennis, baseball, volleyball and golf can include warming up with the normal motions required of the body without and then with the sporting instrument

Chronic Sports Injuries

Repeated stresses may lead to slight loss of proper functional movement in the joints of your spine, pelvis or legs and arms. This in turn interferes with the relationship your muscles and nerves have and so they become affected. You may have just ignored the  pain and carried on with your sport for too long only to now find yourself stuck with a chronic injury.

Your chiropractor can not only deal with acute injuries but these long ongoing ones too. Chiropractors can see patients with:

  • Muscle strains and tears – Hamstrings, Calf, Groin and Thigh
  • Tendon injuries example Achilles tendonitis
  • Tennis elbow or Golfers elbow
  • Rotator Cuff injuries and Impingement syndromes
  • Low back pain
  • Shoulder  sprains and strains such as AC Joint injuries
  • Meniscus injuries of the knee
  • Ligament sprains – ankle, knee, hip, shoulder, elbow wrist and hand
  • Plantar Fasciitis

Muscle sprains and ligament sprains

Ligament sprains and muscle strains are common injuries to the body. These two words are often used interchangeably, yet it is important to understand that they are different types of injuries, and need to be treated as such.

What is a Sprain?

A sprain is an injury involving the stretching or tearing of a ligament (the tissue that connects bone to bone) or a joint capsule, which stabilises and supports the body’s joints.

What causes Ligament Sprains?

Sprains occur when a joint is forced beyond its normal range of motion, most common being ankles, knees, and foot arches. They also occur due to:

  • Direct or indirect trauma that knocks a joint out of position, and overstretches,      and in severe cases, ruptures the supporting ligaments. For example,  landing on an outstretched arm, jumping up and landing on the side of the      foot, or running on an uneven surface.
  • Weak  muscles and poor physical shape
  • Poor stretching/warm ups before exercise
  • Lifting  heavy objects
  • Hormonal interferences (e.g. during pregnancy)

What is a Strain?

Strains are injuries that involve the twisting, pulling or tearing of a muscle and/or tendon (fibrous cords of tissue that attach muscles to bone).

What causes Muscle Strains?

Strains happen when a muscle is stretched and suddenly contracts or spasms such as with running or jumping. Common muscle strains include hamstrings and groin, due to

  • Overuse or prolonged repetitive movements of muscle and tendons
  • Inadequate rest breaks during intensive training
  • A direct blow to the body, overstretching or excessive muscle contractions

Chiropractic treatment of Sprains and Strains 

Typical treatment involves advice on icing the area, performing gentle stretches/ mobilization exercises, muscle testing and spinal manipulation of the kinetic chain (example: if you sprained your ankle – treatment may include adjusting your foot, knee, hip, pelvis and spine). The use of Graston Technique® which is a form of instrument assisted soft tissue mobilization has been found to be very effective in treating soft tissue injuries such as muscle strains and ligament sprains.

Home rehabilitation exercises and advice may also be given, which enables you to have control and provide self-treatment over your own problem. Your chiropractor cannot be with you 24/7, and by giving you the education on how to help your problem, your body can heal itself faster.

Once your body has gotten over the acute inflammatory stage, training may begin on rehabilitation of the muscles/tendons/ligaments. Your chiropractor may give you home or gym training exercises and core stability advice. They may also refer you to a physiotherapist for further care of the injury. If your chiropractor feels there is too much damage they may also refer you for further imaging studies like ultrasound scans, x-rays etc… There may be times when an orthopaedic referral is needed for major ligament damage or muscle strains.

Speak with an ICSSD certified sports chiropractor for any further advice on your situation.