Athletes, Injuries and the Solution
By Harriett van Elburg
About the Author:
Harriët van Elburg, owner of A Healthy Approach, a small privately owned physical therapy office in Sarasota, FL has been in the field for 20 years. She has a degree in Physical Education from her home country, The Netherlands. She is an avid runner who has completed many marathons and half marathons.
Athletes, Injuries and the Solution
Strains, sprains, pulled muscles and even fractures are just some of the possible injuries that can befall recreational, amateur and professional athletes. The injuries are often more severe than those sustained at home or work, requiring multiple physical therapies and rehabilitation techniques to restore full functionality to the affected area.
Overuse injuries are common and while they may initially not appear to be severe in nature, they can quickly transition into a chronic condition if left untreated. A sore joint from golfing, tennis, swimming or pitching can result in pain, neurological damage and dysfunction that may remove an athlete from play for an entire season or derails a promising career.
Sports injuries run the gamut, from pulled groin and hamstring muscles, elbow and rotator cuff problems, to fractures and dislocations. Injuries are often exacerbated by the athlete’s decision to “power through the pain.” Physical therapy techniques are effective in treating and preventing injuries and providing rehabilitation following an injury or surgery. The need for therapy is especially crucial for sports related injuries.
Physical therapy provides pain relief and management that doesn’t rely on prescription medications or invasive methods. It’s effective for improving sports performance and treating musculoskeletal and neurological damage resulting from injuries ranging from concussions to turf toe.
Athletes are masters of precise movements and control, but even a slight variation or miscalculation can result in an injury. Physical therapists are experts in the biomechanics of the body and the therapies that will best heal and rehabilitate specific injuries. Therapists work with current injuries and prior conditions that may have lingering symptoms.
The Best Laid Plans
Despite careful training and appropriate precautions, an injury can still occur and that’s especially true for youngsters and recreational athletes. More than 1.35 million children participating in sports programs will experience a serious injury. Many recreational athletes sustain injuries that could have been avoided with sufficient stretching and warm-up exercises.
Each type of sports activity carries its own unique risks for an injury. Physical therapists can help athletes of all ages with assessments to determine areas of body weakness and concern. The therapeutic methods used will depend on the injury, its severity and the individual. Each phase of treatment, management and rehabilitation requires specific methods to return patients to functionality.
Therapies for Life
An injury requires immediate attention and our therapists provide extensive expertise combined with advanced technology. Depending upon the injury, heat and cold therapies may be employed and used in combination with other methods, all of which are designed to ease pain, maintain mobility and rehabilitate.
Electrical stimulation, ultrasound therapy, and manual manipulation and mobilization are all available to our patients to alleviate pain and improve function. Resistance exercises, clinical Pilates and yoga can be used to enhance balance, coordination and endurance, along with strength and stability.
Therapeutic massage is a versatile therapy that aids in pain management, relieves inflammation and works with the body’s own healing abilities. It accelerates healing and is beneficial in addressing psychological issues common in those who sustain injuries and must undergo extended recoveries. Massage therapy maintains the health of surrounding soft tissues.
Gait assessments identify areas of weakness and inefficiency. Aquatic therapy reduces the stress and drag of gravity on the body, enabling patients to participate in more strenuous forms of rehabilitation. Movements are easier and water offers gentle resistance for building strength, endurance and stability.
Our physical therapists help athletes at all levels of ability in any sporting endeavor reduce the risk of injury, treat injuries that do occur, and provide multiple types of rehabilitation techniques that are tailored to the patient. The evidenced-based therapies are appropriate for the specialized level of care needed to treat sports-related injuries.