When it comes to injuries, they usually fall into two categories; acute injuries or overuse injuries. If you want a full definition of each you can read our article on Acute vs. Overuse Injuries. But for the purpose of this article, in a nutshell, acute injuries are caused by a single event and result in wrist fractures, ankle sprains, and other one-time events. Overuse injuries are caused by repetitive actions that build up over time and result in painful conditions such as tennis elbow, pitcher’s elbow, runner’s knee, and jumper’s knee. If you noticed a pattern in the last list of injuries, they seem to be sports-related. This is the largest reason why overuse injuries increase in the spring and continue to peak through the summer. It should be noted that not all overuse injuries are sports-related as you can also develop an overuse injury at work. For the purpose of this article, however, we are going to address the three most common sports injuries that increase in the spring.
Tennis Elbow (Lateral Epicondylitis)
The common symptom is burning pain over the bone and side of the elbow. This is caused by inflammation of the tendon that attaches muscles to the bony part on the outside of the elbow. About 50% of the athletes who practice racquet sports can develop tennis elbow and, if left untreated, can lead to chronic pain. Tips for prevention includes proper exercise to stretch and strengthen your arm movements—even when you are off the court. During play, improve your technique by learning to use your shoulder and upper arm during your swing to take the strain off the elbow. Finally, stick to your middle range of motion. Extreme bending or straightening of your arm causes stress to the joint and muscles.
Jumper’s Knee (Patellar Tendonitis)
Common symptoms of jumper’s knee include pain right below the knee cap and pain while bending the knee, especially during activities like climbing the stairs. 20 percent of athletes that compete in sports like basketball, volleyball, high jumping, and long jumping develop jumper’s knee. It also occurs in athletes that do not require jumping, like weight lifting and cycling. As with all injuries, left untreated it can develop into chronic pain. Tips to help prevent jumper’s knee includes stretching your quads and hamstrings. The primary cause of jumper’s knee is stress on the patellar tendon (the one that connects the kneecap to the shin bone). When your quads and hamstrings are inflexible, you are asking your patellar tendon to compensate, and it could lead to injury.
Thrower’s Shoulder/Swimmer’s Shoulder (Impingement Syndrome)
A common symptom of thrower’s shoulder is a pain in front and outside the shoulder joint. Your shoulder is a ball and socket joint. The ball is the upper part of your arm and it fits into the socket of your shoulder blade. The muscles and tendons which make this attachment work and move is a complex group of anatomy called the rotator cuff. When the tendons in the rotator cuff get trapped, it can cause injuries and mobility issues to the shoulder. Tips that may help prevent thrower’s shoulder have a lot to do with posture. Visit this link for 9 tips for Better Posture.
Check with Your Doctor
It is always a good idea to check with your doctor if you are feeling any of the above symptoms for these sports injuries—even if you are not an athlete. The key is to prevent chronic pain. The sooner you get diagnosed by a physical therapist, the sooner you can get back to living pain-free.
Renew Physical Therapy is located in Portland
Renew Physical Therapy is an independent manual physical therapy clinic that was established in December 2015 by Michael and Heidi Cantwell. Our facility features three private treatment rooms and an open gym area to treat all our patients’ needs. You can find us on Southeast Division Street in Portland, Oregon.
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