Common sport injuries

Taken from

The following injuries are some of the most common injuries endurance athletes suffer but are no means a complete list. The information below is not intended to treat or diagnose but is merely a self help guide for the athlete. If in doubt always seek professional advice as soon as possible. 

Runner’s knee

Runner’s knee is pain and inflammation usually felt in the front part of the knee but also on the inside or outside of the knee. Pain is normally caused by the Patella (knee cap) maltracking out from its groove on the Femur (thigh bone) It can be difficult to pinpoint the pain but normally the pain is localized only in the knee area.
Causes may include excessive running and cycling up hills, or too much distance or volume. Weak muscles and imbalances in the quads or gluteus can also be a cause.
The first steps to treat the injury is RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation, see also info on cryotherapy) decrease running, cycling or hill work and avoid bending knee excessively. To minimise the risk of this injury get your running shoes and gait checked regally because overpronators are more prone to this injury. Also focus on a stretching and strength training programme that focus on the muscles that affect this injury.

Iliotibial Band Syndrome (ITB)

The ITB is a large tendon that runs down the outside of the thigh from the hip to the knee. The ITB acts as a stabilizer and can become inflamed from overuse. The pain can vary from a slight niggle to debilitating, and is often worse towards the end of a long run. Pain is normally felt in the hip area (woman are prone to this area more than men) or pain around the outside of the knee (men more than woman prone to this area).
Causes can be abnormal biomechanics such as bowed legs, over pronation or leg length differences (leg length differences can be cause by tight lower back muscles). Other factors include training errors such as running on camber roads, or only in one direction such as a running track or your favourite run route. Tight gluteal, lower back or quads can aggravate the ITB as well.
Treatment includes RICE, massage, a foam roller as well as anti-inflammatory medications. Stretching of the ITB band, glutes, quads and lower back will also help. Try to run on even surfaces and make sure to change directions of your run routes. Cycling can aggravate the ITB Syndrome, so correct bike setup is important; your saddle being too high is one thing to look at first. As with most endurance sports that use your lower limbs, check your shoes.
Note, ITB Syndrome recovery if treated early is successful, but training through and ignoring the signs then treatment can take months.

Achilles Tendonitis

This is a common injury among runners and cyclists and is inflammation of the tendon that joins the calf muscles (gastrocnemius and the soleus) to the heel bone. This tendon is powerful and under extreme load so when pain is present you should take steps A.S.A.P.
Pain is usually in the distal part of the calf or near the heel and is aggravated by running, especially up hills. Factors that cause this injury are high volume, duration or intensity too quickly in training. Also tight calf muscles or poor flexibility of the foot can contribute to the onset of Achilles Tendonitis.
Treatment if a mild injury is present then again RICE should be applied. Other treatments include: massage and physical therapy. Reduce your training volume, cut out speed work and hill work which force you up on your toes more. Running must always be pain-free and if the tendon is a little sore after your run apply ice again. Long term, work on your flexibility and try to build extra strength to your calf’s by doing calf raises (seek advice for personal trainer on exercises).
An acute Achilles Tendonitis can become a chronic condition which is very difficult to treat. Therefore it is important that athletes rest where there are signs of this injury.

Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome (Shin Splints)

Shin Splints is characterised by pain and inflammation that feels like bruising along the medial margin of the tibia (shin bone). The pain normally ceases at rest but returns on load. Running too much particularly on hard surfaces can cause this injury as well as running on tip-toe. Biomechanical factors such as over pronation, muscle imbalances and tight lower leg muscles can also contribute.
Massage and ice can help with the treatment of this injury and both together works well. Minimise your risk by not increasing your mileage too quickly and vary the surfaces you train on. Maintain your strength and improve you flexibility will help long term as well as warming up your legs before you run.

Plantar Fasciitis

The bottom of the foot has thin layer of tough fibrous tissue that supports the arch of the foot (the tendon). Tears can develop in the tendon and cause pain and inflammation, usually the most painful when you wake up in the morning. Pain is normally close to the heel bone and towards the inside of the foot. Causes are overpronation, sudden increase in running, tight calf muscles, poor ankle flexibility and shoes that are worn. Weak and high arches also contribute to Plantar Fasciitis.
Initial treatment should be RICE, also stretching the calf muscles and the bottom of your foot will help. Massaging the arch and heel of the foot can ease the pain but if the injury is left too long without treatment healing becomes difficult. Keeping up regular strength exercises like picking up small objects with your toes and stretching of the calf and foot can help prevent plantar fasciitis. Also get your shoes checked or seek advice from a podiatrist.

Lower Back Pain

There are many causes of lower back pain, poor posture, muscles imbalances; weak core muscles are just a few. For runners and cyclists lower back pain maybe caused by a tight or weak hip flexor muscle (Psoas muscles) or tight hamstrings. Sitting for long periods (car, train and bike) can cause your hip flexor to become tight and shortened resulting in putting pressure on your lower back. Tight hamstring inhibit your running stride and make proper knee flexion hard. Muscles of your core: abdominals, hip flexors, spinal, hamstrings and glutes are responsible for supporting your body, so keeping them strong and flexible will only help with preventing lower back pain. Other suggestions are having regular sports massage, and have your running technique checked out will help.

Tips for proper posture

You can test your posture by standing with your back against a wall. Put your hand in the small of your back, you should feel only minimal space between your back and the wall. People with poor posture either slouch forward, slumping their shoulders and rounding their backs, or they overly arch their back sticking out their chest and buttocks.
Here are five simple steps to follow to correct poor posture:
Slightly tuck in your chin
Relax your shoulders and arms.
Tuck in your stomach.
Tighten your buttock.Slightly bend your knees.


Cryotherapy (Cooling)

When a soft tissue injury occurs, the first step is to attempt to stop the bleeding since this results in swelling and pain. Rest and apply ice to the injured tissue making sure it penetrates deep into the injured tissue. The amount of time you apply ice depends on the size of the area, so common sense should prevail but generally anything from 15minuites to 45 minutes is enough. After the initial application of ice let the tissue warm up, then try a gentle stretch to pain free range and then you can apply the ice once again if needed. Never apply ice directly to the skin so wrap it in a thin towel or something similar.
Compression and elevation should follow:
Compression has the effect of producing counter pressure to bleeding/ swollen area and thus prevents swelling. Use elastic bandages which have a certain degree of give in them.
Elevation an injured part has the effect of reducing blood flow to the area and therefore reducing the amount of swelling formed. Usually, if one of the extremity joints is injured, it should be raised 45 degrees or more with the patient supine. The use of cushions is helpful and most text books recommend that acutely injured areas should be elevated for 24 hours. Subsequently it should be elevated whenever the opportunity arises.