In Health

health practitioner examines a man's kneeToday’s professionals and parents are staying in shape, even with busy work and family schedules. More and more of them are continuing to play semi-contact sports like soccer, hockey, basketball, touch football, and softball – for some people, well into their 50s and even 60s. Weekend sports are fun and a great incentive to stay in shape. But they also risk injury from contact, strains, and falls. Sudden stops and starts, along with quick, explosive movements, all combine to increase the chance of injury.

Muscle and bone strength is key. Weekend athletes should do strength training at least twice a week. Preparation, stretching, and warm-up are also critical tools for reducing the risk of injury. But even with conditioning and preparation, injuries do occur. When they do, rest and effective therapy are vital to getting back in action quickly.

Common Adult Sports Injuries:

    1. Knee Ligament Tears
      When pivoting on a field, court, or ice, the connective tissues in the knees can stretch far beyond the normal range of motion. Tears of the knee ligaments (ACL, MCL, and PCL), as well as the meniscus, are some of the most common injuries for weekend athletes.  If not healed, these tears can turn into chronic conditions. If you land sideways and hear a “pop” like a giant knuckle crack you need to get checked for a ligament tear. Other signs include loss of sensation below the knee, inability to move, and pain.


    1. Shoulder Bruises and Separations
      A separated shoulder occurs when the clavicle and the scapula are compressed suddenly; the ligament that binds the clavicle to the scapula is susceptible to injury whenever a front-back compression occurs. Blunt force, usually a result of playing contact sports without sufficient weight training and core strengthening, is the most common etiology. Falls where the hands are placed in front of the body can also result in separation. Extreme pain is the indicator of a tear or separation. The injury is classified in five grades, and you need to see a physician to determine the degree of injury. Grades I and II (and some III) can be treated non-surgically with rest, anti-inflammatory medications, and cold therapy.


    1. Hamstring Strains and Tears
      Hamstring strains and tears are injuries that affect a wide array of athletes. The injury is located in the four muscles that make up the string along the back of the thigh that straighten the leg. When these muscles are at their limit of stretch or strength they can pull or even tear. Inflexibility, especially of the quadriceps at the front of the thigh, poor warm up, weak gluteal muscles, all predispose you to hamstring injury. Most hamstring injuries are self-healing and not too painful. If you have severe pain in the back of your thigh you need to see a physician.


    1. Groin Pulls
      Quick stops and starts and acceleration can easily result in groin pulls or hip strains. These injuries can be long-lasting and difficult to resolve if play is resumed prior to full healing.  Groin injuries are not a single entity – there are multiple possible injuries with different symptoms.  The most common cause is a contact sports related strain or tear in a tendon or ligament in the upper leg. Groin pain unrelated to sports may be a hernia, testicle torsion, epididymitis, and even urological problems – if you have groin pain unrelated to a physical injury you need to see a physician.


    1. Elbow Strains
      While more common in sports that involve repetitive motion such as tennis and golf, elbow sprains can result from contact or falls, especially where the arm is fully extended or used awkwardly for bracing or contact.  A sudden injury with severe pain needs to be evaluated. A chronic developing moderate pain is a sign of a repetitive motion injury and dreaded inflammation. Because the medial and lateral tendons involved in these injures get little to no blood flow they heal in slow motion as the nutrients and healing proteins slowly migrate to the injury. It’s very common to develop a chronic inflammation when insufficient rest and healing results in re-injury. Because healing is so slow people get frustrated and return to activity too soon. In many cases a rest period of a month or two after healing is necessary. Controlling inflammation is very helpful in shortening the healing time.


  1. Calf Muscle Injuries
    Injuries to the calf muscles are a very common sports injury, often presenting as a sudden pain in the back of the lower leg.  Because of the crucial role these muscles play in standing, these injuries are often severe and result in a sudden difficultly walking.  There are two muscles that make up the calf, the gastrocnemius and soleus.  An upper calf injury is usually a gastrocnemius strain and often related to the sudden stops and starts of tennis or basketball. A more severe pain just above the foot may be an Achilles tendon tear and needs immediate medical attention. Bruising down the back of the calf (and even the foot) is not uncommon. Healing often begins with crutches and progresses to weight bearing after two the three weeks. Immediate use of cold therapy and its use during the first 72 hours to reduce bleeding and swelling can greatly shorten the healing period. Compression along with cold is ideal. Proper warmup and flexibility are your best protection against calf injury.

Most of the injuries involving ligament, muscle, and tendon strains can be successfully treated with rest, anti-inflammatory medications, cold compression, and physical therapy.  If an injury is extremely painful or does not improve, see your doctor to rule out a more serious injury.

The most important factor in healing is rest! Too many people get into a cycle of returning to activity too soon after their pain stops, re-injuring the same tissues, and setting back the clock on healing.  Rinse and repeat, so to speak.  This cycle of re-injury can also create a state of chronic inflammation, making healing much more difficult.  Wait a week or two after the pain stops to begin activity again, and then start slowly and build your way back.

Cold therapy is an excellent way to supplement your healing regimen and put the brakes on inflammation.  Cold works by slowing the overall biological metabolism of local tissues (the same way your refrigerator slows the metabolism of bacteria). The key is to allow enough time for cold to penetrate into the deeper tissues while at the same time avoiding skin, subcutaneous, and nerve damage from freezing.  A bit of a trick to pull off.  übertherm cold therapy products are thermally regulated to deliver precision cold, preventing skin burn and the damaging effects of freezing, maximizing penetration to the deeper tissues, and providing soothing relief to inflamed tissues.

health practitioner examines a man's knee