Osteopathy and Sports Injuries

Michael Owen and Steven Gerrard rely on osteopaths, as does Sir Chris Hoy and Andy Murray. “Why shouldn’t you?”

People don’t often think about osteopathy when it comes to sport injuries. But considering our main focus is the way in which the whole body functions, we are ideally placed to help you recover from injury and recurrent strains and to improve your overall performance as well.

Injuries are often the result of poor joint movement

People mistakenly think that pulled muscles are solely because they are tight, and don’t appreciate that a joint that is mal-functioning can cause muscle strains.

Whilst massage and stretching helps it is not enough if the joints are not moving through their full range. When joints are moving well, the demand on the muscles is far less. This extra movement in the joint will minimise the risk of injury and speed recovery if you are injured.

By increasing local joint movement we can over-ride muscle spasm and free off joint restrictions, thus allowing full resolution of your injury.

Football, tennis, golf… any sport that involves twisting and turning sharply will put a strain through the back. Normally if you are supple and your joints are mobile this is not a problem. However, our lifestyles cause our mid-backs to become stiff making our low back work harder and therefore more vulnerable to injury. Our objective is to have each joint in your back working through its full range so that loads are spread evenly and minimising the occurrence of a joint or disc strain.

Sometimes problems with the neck and back can also cause pain around the shoulder region. When the problem is from the shoulder joint itself you may get irritation of the tendons (impingement syndrome), inflammation of the fluid-filled sac that protects the tendons (bursitis), or when traumatic, a primary tear of the rotator cuff muscles (eg. supraspinatus tear). All of these can cause aches or sharp pains and limit movement. This lack of movement causes tender restrictions within the muscles, which further limits movement and places extra demand on the other shoulder and neck.

Sports InjuryBy releasing the muscular restrictions and encouraging normal joint motion we can dramatically improve symptoms and allow you to start using your shoulder again.

Tennis (& Golfer’s) elbow is used to describe any pain and tenderness around the outer edges of the elbow joint. It occurs when the muscle insertions at the elbow start to ‘tug’ at the bone leading to inflammation. Some cases resolve with ice and anti-inflammatories, though often they persist due to overuse of the muscles during work and leisure time. Improving the range of movement in the wrist and shoulder, as well as the spine, has a dramatic affect on reducing the tension at the muscle insertion, and allowing the inflammation to resolve. This can help avoid the need for steroid injections.

Overuse of our forearm muscles causes the tendons (extensions of our muscles which attach to bone) and the sheath which encases them to become inflamed.  This may make the gliding movement of the tendon in its sheath difficult. As a sufferer you may experience aching, tenderness and mild swelling of the elbow, wrist, hand or thumb. By improving movement in neighbouring joints the load is shared throughout the arm which will get rid of your symptoms.

The hamstrings are very susceptible to injury due to them being weaker than their counterparts, the quadriceps. This means that any imbalance in the hip, knee or pelvis can cause tears anywhere along the length of the muscle. This often occurs as the leg is decelerating (e.g. after kicking a football), or when the leg is suddenly straightened (e.g. as a runner sets off). When treating a recurrent injury we address any signs of pelvic imbalance and previous knee or ankle injuries that may put extra strain on the hamstrings. Believe it or not, a muscle rarely strains on its own when everything around it is running smoothly.

Most knee pain can be treated and is not the result of arthritis.  Subtle imbalances within the hip and foot cause a rotational force at the knee resulting in pain and inflammation of the tendons and cartilage (menisci).  Other times poor running style or an awkward gait can produce irritation in the tissues of the knee. Only in exceptional circumstances is surgery required. The majority of cases we can dramatically relieve by working on the different structures of the knee itself and resolving any imbalances at the neighbouring joints of the leg. Knee strengthening exercises help reduce a lot of pain.

Due to an osteopaths highly developed sense of touch, specific problems can be identified and treated with ease.

These include: Meniscal/Cartilage Problems, Knee Locking, Arthritis, Patella mal-tracking & Osgood-Schlatters.

These are a common blight of runners occurring after ‘too much training too soon’ causing inflammation and micro-fracture of the bone surface. Often, poor ankle and knee biomechanics are to blame leading to excessive force in the shin. Osteopaths are able to use their highly developed sense of touch to recognise the early signs.  When treating the condition working directly on the tissues and adjacent areas can greatly ease the inflammation allowing you to resume training.

Did you know you can experience pain anywhere around the foot and ankle as a result of a sprain to the ankle’s ligaments?  You may not even recall going over on your ankle for there to be a problem but there is usually a background of joint flexibility for this to be the case.

sports-injury-2Ankle strains are very common and usually resolve completely after 2 or 3 weeks with ice and rest, but often retained muscle spasm and joint restrictions can lead to chronic injury. When an old injury hasn’t resolved fully it can lead to a recurrence or injury elsewhere. By manipulating the joint and relaxing the muscles we can help the joint resume normal motion much quicker and more completely, thus relieving the pain and swelling. Taping to restore control and allow normal function is used in the early stages of your recovery.

Usually a traumatic event or a change to your routine can bring about foot pain. This can encourage the muscles to fatigue on the inner part of sole (plantar fasciitis) or allow tight muscles to tug at the heel (achilles’ tendinopathy). By improving the function of the ankle and the joints within the arches of the foot, the pain will ease and normal movement will return. This will be in addition to releasing the tight muscles which influence joint movement, and possibly taping the joint to give additional support in your recovery period, allowing you to continue with your training.

An osteopath’s highly developed sense of touch can identify the specific problem to your foot pain.  We will often be able to tell you the process of how and why it came about by assessing the local tissues as well as being aware of others mechanical issues which may have made you use your foot differently and without you noticing!

Problems we diagnose and treat include:  Plantar Fascitis, Metatarsalgia, Heel Spurs, Arch problems, Bunions, Neuromas (trapped nerves), Tendon & Ligament Problems.