Five Most Common Sports Injuries We Treat
It's no secret that my favorite types of cases to work on are sports injuries. Sports injuries are what got me interested in becoming a chiropractor in the first place. They're a change of pace from the more traditional neck and low back pain cases I see each day, and usually involve joints outside the spine. Here in Palm Beach Gardens and Jupiter, we have a huge variety of athletes due to our ability to train outdoors year round. Therefore, I get to see a wide range of different types of sports injuries. We’re going to go over some the five most common sports injuries we treat in our office.
QL Strain; Golf/Weightlifting/Paddle Sports
This is actually a common injury across most sports. Golf, weightlifting, and paddle sports just happen to be the most common sports our patients are performing when these injuries occur. QL stands for quadratus lumborum, which, roughly translated from Latin means "square shaped low back muscle." This muscle connects to your spine from the bottom of your ribs to the top of your pelvis. The QL is actually considered the back wall of your abdominal muscles. You have two of these muscles; one on each side of your body.
Any sport that involves some sort of one-sided movement is prone to this injury. Most major sports involve this type of action: a golf swing requires twisting your body in one direction, before swinging powerfully to the other. Weightlifters often isolate one half of the body for a particular exercise. A classic weightlifting exercise where I see this injury is single arm dumbbell bent over rows. I've strained my own QL a few times doing this exercise! Paddle sports, such as stand-up paddleboarding and kayaking are sports that have seen a surge in popularity lately. These both involve rotating to one side and bracing your core while paddling.
A QL injury can be pretty painful and feel like a sharp stab deep in your low back, especially when turning over in the bed. Fortunately, treatment for this condition is relatively quick and easy. Treatment typically includes Active Release Technique to reduce tightness and pain, ice and electric muscle stimulation for controlling inflammation, and once pain has subsided, stabilizing and strengthening core exercises to prevent future injury.
Planter Fasciitis; Marathon/Triathlon
I have a lot of experience treating runners. Marathon and triathlon are especially popular in sunny, warm (and flat) south Florida. These sports are unique in that they test endurance above all else. We frequently treat plantar fasciitis, and the vast majority of those cases come from our endurance athletes. Plantar fasciitis is when the tissues in the bottom of the foot become irritated and painful, especially during walking and running. Pain is often felt in the heel or ball of the foot and is often most painful first thing in the morning.
Most commonly, this injury occurs by overuse. The muscles in the lower leg and calf become tight, causing tension in the tissues at the bottom of the foot. Treatment of this condition includes reducing workload temporarily, or cross-train with other types of activities. Some examples are swimming or biking. Active Release Technique and Graston Technique are used to decrease pain and inflammation in the lower leg. Rehabilitative exercises can strengthen tissues for prevention.
Rotator Cuff Strain; Golf/Tennis/Baseball
Rotator cuff strains are common in most racquet or stick sports. In our office, we see mostly golfers, tennis players, and baseball players with this condition, but many other sports can cause this, for example, swimming. There are four muscles that make up the rotator cuff, which are the muscles that stabilize movement of the shoulder. By far, the most commonly injured muscle of the rotator cuff is the supraspinatus.
This muscle starts at the top of the shoulder blade and connects to halfway down the shoulder. This particular muscle is prone to tearing, and can be categorized into 3 grades. AGrade 1 is a minor strain and can be treated easily. Grade 2 is a partial tear and typically requires a longer period to rehabilitate, around 3 months, with much of the work focusing on rehabilitative exercise. Finally, grade 3 is a full thickness tear and may require surgery to repair.
Tennis Elbow; Golf/Tennis
This is the most common elbow injury in general, and to no one's surprise, tennis elbow is most common in tennis players. This is also a common condition in golfers. Did you know there is also another condition called golfer's elbow? It's less common, and in fact, I see more golfers with tennis elbow than golfer's elbow. What do these even mean? Tennis elbow is a tendonitis, or inflammation of a tendon, on the outside part of the elbow. Golfer's elbow is the opposite, on the inside part of the elbow.
When this condition is severe, you may get elbow pain simply picking up a coffee cup! Treatment for this condition is similar to other tendonitis treatments. Reduce activity to the affected elbow. Active Release Technique and Graston Technique are used to relieve tightness and inflammation. Rehabilitative exercise is then used to improve range of motion and strengthen tendons.
Ankle Sprain; Soccer
Ankle sprains are common across many sports, but our soccer players seem to experience them most often of all our athletes. There are two types of ankle sprains: inversion and eversion. Inversion sprains are far more common, and that means you injure the outside ligaments of the ankle. Eversion sprains are far more rare and usually more severe. The inside ligaments are much stronger than the outside ones, so if those get injured, it must have been a pretty powerful injury.
Ankle sprain recovery is almost entirely exercise rehab based after the swelling has been reduced. We have a multi-stage approach to continually strengthening and stabilizing the area until you are practicing sport-specific drills that demonstrate stability on the field.