Sports Injuries – why prevention is better than cure

The Six Nations tournament is again underway, and Wales struggled at the start with some key players, sidelined due to injury.

Initially the team missed Leigh Halfpenny, Rhys Patchell, Scott Williams and Leon Brown although thankfully Williams has now recovered and will play in this Saturday’s Wales -v- England showdown.

However injured trio Samson Lee, Leon Brown and Tomos Williams won’t make this weekend’s game.

At one 2 one, we work hard with our athletes to keep them injury free – injuries at the wrong time can be career destroying.  Our professional athletes are always careful to avoid injury, making sure their bodies are in tune inside and out – and as you’d expect, they take full advantage of the facilities and technology here at one 2 one, such as physiotherapy, sports massage, running assessments, vimove and podiatry.

Rugby players undoubtedly do the same, but concussion and contact injuries are often unavoidable in a physical sport like rugby.

Sports injuries are bound to happen at some point in a professional athletes career, but it isn’t their musculoskeletal injuries that fill our sports injury clinic. We treat sports injuries across all age groups and abilities, from children to the elderly. Most of these injuries could have been avoided.

Sports injuries are often caused by:

  • An inadequate warm up prior to exercise
  • Using the wrong equipment
  • An accident – such as a fall or heavy blow
  • Pushing yourself too hard
  • Fatigue
  • Poor technique/biomechanics
  • A lack of flexibility in muscles and joints
  • Muscle weakness/ poor core stability

Sports injuries can occur in any part of the body, the most common being the knees and ankles. Bones, joints, muscles, ligaments and tendons are all affected.

So if you are out of practice, should you avoid exercise?

Clinic Director and Physiotherapist Rhian Davies says definitely not:

“Unless you have a serious medical condition which affects your ability to exercise, the benefits far outweigh the risk of injury.  Rather than avoiding exercise, we recommend taking steps to minimize the risk of injury– so even if you haven’t exercised in some time, start off very gently – but start!  Follow our tips and don’t just ‘go for the burn’,  get going at your own pace and you will gradually find your fitness improves.” 

Here are our top tips for exercising without injury:

  • Always warm up and cool down properly. A warm up should consist of 5-10 mins of dynamic movement involving your whole body.  A cool down should last a minimum of 5 mins and include sustained stretches of all major muscle groups.
  • Use the right equipment e.g. shin pads for football, a gum shield for rugby, the most suitable running footwear for your foot type whilst running. If you’re unsure about which trainers are best for you and your sport, speak with your podiatrist.
  • Don’t push yourself beyond your current fitness level.  Try not to be influenced by others around you, do your own thing.
  • Try not to exercise when you’re fatigued. Rest is equally as important in your training regime as training itself. This is when your body repairs itself and strengthens muscles.
  • Work on your technique to make you more efficient and less likely to injure yourself. Biomechanical assessments and screening can identify areas of weakness and stiffness in the body that maybe contributing to your poor technique.  This screening can be carried out by a physiotherapist or a podiatrist. Here at one2one, we offer our clients advanced biomechanical screening which involves a combined assessment with both a physiotherapist and a podiatrist using the latest technology.
  • Keep your muscles and joints flexible. You can do this through a proper cool down, a regular stretching programme or maybe attending a yoga class. Regular sports massage also helps to keep the muscles flexible.
  • Make sure your training programme includes a strength and conditioning session. Key areas can be targeted to ensure you have adequate strength in the muscles put under strain during your sport. If you’re unsure of what exercises to do or how to do them, speak with your physiotherapist or personal trainer.
  • Listen to your body. If something doesn’t feel right or you start to feel pain when exercising, stop!.

We’ll be sparing a thought for Leigh Halfpenny and his injured teammates this Saturday, who will, like the rest of us, be watching this crucial match from the sidelines. However, if there’s one thing we’ve learned at one2one, it’s that professional athletes are made of tough stuff. Halfpenny trained with the Scarlets this week, so we hope to see him playing again soon.

Til then, we’ll be cheering for his teammates. C’mon Wales!!