I am an athlete. I am also fit. Why do I experience injury?
By Juan C Quiroga DPT
We would like to discuss some of the most common issues that arise when athletes visit our clinic searching for injury recovery. Many of them will state that they have increased the intensity, the frequency or both on their training sessions. Typically, even individuals with several years practicing the sport are susceptible to injuries while in the process of taking their training to a different level. Understanding and discussing with your coach a gradual transition to a more demanding routine will more likely minimize the chances of developing injuries. Even further, let us not forget to mention that the specific conditioning component of the athlete preparation needs to be revised in function of the new specific sport demands.
Another common statement we hear from patients relates to feeling pain on a particular body part and trying to push through it. Athletes are used to working against fatigue, a sore body and a tired mind; therefore, many times their first reaction to pain is to ignore first and then if it continues to complete their routine at all cost. Our advice is “listen to your body” - it is giving you clues for a reason, remember that pain is a warning sign to prevent further damage. Evidently, pain tolerance varies greatly among people but nevertheless as a general statement learning to fine tune your body is the first line of defense to avoid more complicated injuries.
We would also like to include the influence of weight training and general conditioning exercises for the sports. Many times we have seen particular techniques used to perform strengthening exercises that might not be the best protection for the involved body parts from injury. Fortunately, there is a good amount of scientific evidence updated constantly on the specifics of exercise performance. Both the athlete and the coach should revise periodically the resistance, flexibility and general conditioning programs. The speed of changes of our digital era gives us no alternative.
The last of our considerations deals with muscular imbalances. Even though this is an area that warrants further research, it seems that patients with an injury will many times has some influence from his/her musculoskeletal history that has lead to the injury. Because of anatomical differences, body type or training particularities athletes will demonstrate hyperactive muscle groups, shortened muscle groups, and an abnormal neuromuscular recruitment for simple motor tasks. Some of them will not develop injuries but others will. A consultation with a Physical Therapist will help understand the injury mechanism and most importantly, minimize the odd of re-occurrence in the future.