Tennis Elbow and Beyond: A Closer Look at Tennis Injuries

shutterstock 181769753 Tennis Elbow and Beyond: A Closer Look at Tennis InjuriesThe 2014 US Open starts today. One of the major stories prior to the start of the tournament is that Rafael Nadal is sitting this one out due to injury. At only 28, Nadal has already won 14 Grand Slam singles titles but his aggressive playing style has taken a toll on his body. Nadal has suffered from many different injuries — mostly to his knee and wrist — over his career; this is the fifth tournament in his career where he has been sidelined due to injury. It leads many to wonder if Nadal would be the greatest tennis player of all time if he could only get his body to cooperate.

Whether you are a professional tennis player or you play for fun, injuries can always occur and ruin your game. In honor of the US Open, let’s take a closer look at tennis injuries and how they can be prevented.

Common Tennis Injuries

Overuse is the most common reason for tennis related injuries. Approximately two-thirds of all tennis injuries occur because of overuse. The other third is due to sudden injury or an acute event.

Tennis Elbow

You know an injury is common when it is named after the sport where it frequently occurs. Lateral epicondylitis or tennis elbow, is a strain of the muscles and tendons in the elbow through repetitive motions. Tennis players can get tennis elbow by practicing their backhand swing repeatedly.

Shoulder Injuries

Swinging a tennis racket and firing off a powerful shot can put a great deal of stress on your shoulders. Tennis players often suffer from shoulder injuries.

Rotator cuff injuries are common. The rotator cuff helps position your shoulder in the socket. If you have a weak rotator cuff, it can cause irritation in the socket tissues as it moves around. This can lead to inflammation in the tendon or the bursa (Shoulder Bursitis), causing pain when you swing your racket overhead.

Lower Limb Injuries

Tennis is a full body workout and players must sprint from one side of the court to the other. The sudden pivot as a player takes off can put stress on the knee joints, tendons and ligaments resulting in knee injuries.

Any sport that requires running has the risk of ankle injuries. A sprained ankle is one of the most common tennis injuries. Even the greats like Roger Federer and Andrew Murray have suffered sprained ankles.

Preventing Tennis Injuries

With any sport, proper training and condition is crucial to injury prevention. This means warming up before a match as well as maintaining your fitness even in the offseason. Tennis is a fast paced sport that requires not just muscle strength but also endurance. You need to be able to sprint back and forth, backwards and forwards, throughout the match.

When strength training, focus on the shoulder muscles to help prevent rotator cuff injuries. Strengthen and stretch the wrist and forearm muscles to prevent tennis elbow, as these tend to absorb the most impact from the ball hitting your racket. Work on your core and back to further reduce the chance of injury.

For tennis, technique is extremely important not just to win but also to extend your career by reducing the risk of injury. Make sure you have the proper form for each type of swing. That said; try not to repeat the same swing too many times in a row. Mixing it up helps prevent overuse injuries but is also more in line with how a match will be played.

In addition, make sure you have the right equipment. Pay attention to the grip size of your racket. Make sure your footwear is supportive. If you are experiencing even minor pain, consider taping the area or wearing a brace for added support.

Sources:

http://www.stopsportsinjuries.org/tennis-injury-prevention.aspx

http://www.physioworks.com.au/Injuries-Conditions/Activities/tennis-injuries

The Benefits of Sleep

Benefits of Sleep for Injury Prevention The Benefits of Sleep

Sleeping, snoozing, getting some shut-eye; there are lots of names for what we do when we go to bed and close our eyes. It’s widely known that the average person should get about eight hours a sleep a night. However beyond just feeling rested, sleep is a key part of a healthy lifestyle.

Your brain never sleeps, even when you do. This is one of the reasons sleep is so important. While you’re asleep, your brain works to strengthen memories and go over skills you learned while you were awake. This is called consolidation.

While your brain is making sure all the information your absorbed over the course of your day is properly filed, your body is at rest. This can lead to a reduction in inflammation, which is linked to conditions like heart disease, stroke, diabetes, arthritis and premature aging. Studies have shown that people who get less than six hours of sleep a night have increased levels of inflammatory proteins in their blood than people who get more than six hours of sleep.

Getting enough sleep can also prevent injuries, particularly in teens. According to a study of 112 high school athletes by Matthew D. Milewski, MD, young athletes who get less than eight hours of sleep a night (on average) were 1.7 times more likely to incur injuries than their peers who got eight or more hours of sleep a night.

This is all well and good but for many people, sleep does not come easily. Whether it’s stress, insomnia, noise, etc. many people have a difficult time getting enough sleep. For those who just can’t seem to get enough shuteye, here are some tips:

Don’t eat 2-3 hours before bed and skip that afternoon coffee

Spicy and/or big meals before bed can cause digestive issues that keep you up. Having coffee can affect your sleep even if you drink it six hours before your go to bed. If you’re really dragging after lunch and need a bit of caffeine, consider half the amount of your morning coffee.

Get into sleep mode by relaxing

Start to wind down an hour or so before hitting the hay. Read a book, watch a movie, take a hot shower, whatever helps you low down and unwind.

Move distractions like laptops and/or TVs out of the bedroom

Working from bed might seem like the most efficient way to get work done until bedtime, but it can affect your sleep. For some people, the light from the screen of their laptop / tablet / phone can activate their brain, making it hard to fall asleep. If you can’t sleep in silence, try purchasing a white noise machine instead of falling asleep with the TV on. Try to keep your bed primarily for sleeping; it will help your brain associate going to bed with going to sleep.

Sleep is important to function but remember, even though around eight hours is the standard, some people need a little more or can deal with a little less. In order to get the benefits of sleep, figure out the amount of sleep that’s right for you to feel rested and alert.

 

 

Sources:

http://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/features/9-reasons-to-sleep-more

http://www.healio.com/orthopedics/pediatrics/news/online/%7B84d0db29-ea4c-4ee7-9503-83d8ceb943e9%7D/more-sleep-may-help-prevent-athletic-injuries-in-adolescents

http://sleepfoundation.org/sleep-tools-tips/healthy-sleep-tips/page/0%2C1/

http://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/excessive-sleepiness-10/myths-facts

http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20459221,00.html

The Best Ways to Prevent Football Injuries

football gear The Best Ways to Prevent Football InjuriesSummer is coming to an end and that means it’s almost football season! Football is America’s favorite pastime, but for the athletes themselves, the sport can be brutal on the body. Whether you’re a professional football player or enjoy throwing the ball around with friends, properly taking care of injuries is important. However, the best way to deal with football injuries is to prevent them from happening in the first place.

Most Common Injuries

Football is a heavy contact sport, and injuries are more of the norm than not. Around half of the injuries that occur happen in the lower extremities. A knee injury is one of the biggest complaints that players report. Cartilage tears and ruptures of the ACL are extremely common, as are tears of the PCL and MCL. Other injuries include sprains of the ankle and hamstring, shin splints, Achilles tendonitis, and turf toe.

In the upper extremities, shoulder injuries may include separation, fracture of the clavicle, dislocation, and a torn rotator cuff. Broken fingers, and tendonitis and sprains of the wrist are also common.

Head injuries, especially concussions, are quite common, as are fractures, contusions, and dislocations.

Because of the long-term damage sustained from football injuries, particularly with concussions, there has been increased attention on preventing injuries from professional football leagues.

Causes of Football Injuries

Every move in football can cause injury. Injuries can be acute from a sudden blow, or cumulative from overuse. The different moves that are involved with playing football include running, passing, catching, and tackling. All of these pose a threat to the players’ body parts and can easily lead to injury.

In football, there are many sudden changes in direction and bursts of speed, which leads to many of the sprains and pulled muscles. When it comes to preventing football injuries, a lack of training, weak muscles, and structural abnormalities all lead to injuries as well, and are highly preventable.

How to Prevent Football Injuries

 Preventing football injuries is imperative to keep injuries at a minimum.

  • Before each season, the athlete should get a physical, to ensure that there aren’t any conditions that could limit participation.
  • Warm ups should occur before, and after, every practice and game. This ensures that the muscles stay loose and ready to handle the physical demands of the game.
  • Check the field before play to make sure that there are no potential hazards, such as debris or holes.
  • Proper equipment is a must. Pads, helmets, and mouth guards need to fit properly and be worn correctly. Along with the basic equipment, certain players should also wear additional supports and braces for the different extremities. These help players with instability issues, injury recovery, pain, and prevention.
  • Practice healthy living. This includes eating a nutritious diet, drinking enough water, and getting enough sleep.
  • Many future injuries also result from returning too soon after a previous injury. Make sure that you are completely recovered before you go back on to the field.

Cheerleading: The Most Dangerous Sport

shutterstock 61626283 Cheerleading: The Most Dangerous Sport

When you think of sports injuries, full contact sports like football probably come to mind. However, one of the most dangerous sports in terms of serious injury is not football, soccer, or basketball…it’s cheerleading.

Cheerleading has become so much more than shouting encouraging phrases from the sidelines. Modern day cheerleading features amazing feats of gymnastics and flexibility along with dance and of course, stunts. A basket toss can send a cheerleader flying 20 feet in the air, only to land in the arms of her teammates, if everything goes right. It’s not hard to see how cheerleading can be dangerous.

Even with human pyramids, choreographed gymnastic passes and more, some might not even consider cheerleading a true sport; in fact the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) does not even include it in their list of sponsored sports. But it doesn’t change the fact that from 1980 to 2013, cheerleading injury rates went up 440%. While compared to other sports, the overall number of injuries is actually low. However, cheerleading injuries are often much more severe, making up 50-66% of catastrophic injuries in female athletes. A catastrophic injury is defined as a severe injury to the spine (including the spinal cord) or brain and may also include skull or spinal fractures.

Most Common Injuries

Cheerleading injuries affect all areas of the body. The wrists, shoulders, ankles, head, and neck are most commonly injured.  Sprains account for more than half of all cheerleading injuries. While ankle sprains are most common, sprains can also occur in the knees, wrists, neck and back.

Back injuries are also common in cheerleading, largely from tumbling and stunts. Back injuries can be caused by twisting and rotating in stunts or tumbling passes and from lifting, catching, or falling during stunts.

Concussions are also becoming increasingly more common in cheerleading. With more evidence of the damage head injuries like concussions can cause, there has now been a heightened awareness of cheerleading related injuries overall.

Prevention

Some of the causes for cheerleading injuries are lack of training (especially with stunts) lack of conditioning and that there is no protective gear for the sport. The best way to avoid injury is to prevent them from happening.

Stunt restrictions

It’s no surprise that stunting causes the most serious injuries in cheerleading. Stunting accounts for 42-60% of all cheerleading injuries. In addition, 96 percent of concussions and head injuries in cheerleading are caused by stunts. Without the proper training on how to toss and catch the flyer, along with practice, these injuries will continue to occur.

Other stunting restrictions include height restrictions in human pyramids to keep them level and increasing the number of spotters during aerial stunts. Mats should always be used during practice, as cheerleading is one of the only sports where more injuries occur during practice than in competition.

Trained coaches

The lack of recognition of cheerleading as a sport has lead to a lack of qualified coaches. Often, coaching is done by a member of the school’s faculty who may not have any experience with cheerleading, or at least not some of the more physically demanding aspects of it. At a minimum, a cheerleading coach should know proper stunt technique, should always supervise practice and should be able to identify the symptoms of serious injury like concussion.

Conditioning

Like any other sport, proper training and conditioning can help prevent injury. First and foremost, stretching before practice and competition can loosen the muscles and help prevent strains, sprains and pulls. Yoga or Pilates can also help cheerleaders improve flexibility.

Strength training can also help prepare muscles for lifting either your body weight or a teammate during stunts. Special attention should be paid to strengthening the back and shoulders are well as the core muscles to help reduce the risk of injury.

Sources:

Knee Injuries: More Common in Women?

knee pain women Knee Injuries: More Common in Women?

Knee injuries are no laughing matter; 55% of all sports related injuries are knee injuries. But who is at greatest risk for knee injuries when it comes to sports? It turns out that women are 4-6 times more likely to suffer a sports related injury than their male counterparts in the same sport. Out of all sports related injuries, the most common injuries among female athletes are anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries.

The reasons for women having an increased risk of knee injury has nothing to do with strength or ability; it comes down to genetics and anatomical factors, form, and training. Simply put, women are built differently than men and some of those differences put added pressure on their knee joints. Thankfully, the factors contributing to the increase in injuries have been widely researched and while genetics can’t be changed, form corrections and training programs have been proven to prevent knee injuries in women’s sports.

Within the sports community, female athletes who play basketball and soccer are somewhere between 2-10 times more likely to suffer an ACL injury compared with male athletes, according to the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine. The reason for the high rate of ACL injuries within these particular sports can be attributed to that most ACL injuries—whether in male or female athletes— are caused by non contact mechanisms. These include common movements like landing from a jump or making a lateral pivot while running. But why are women so susceptible to ACL injuries? Let’s take a look at the factors and what can be done to reduce the risk.

Genetic and Anatomical Factors:

ACL Knee Injuries: More Common in Women?

The anterior cruciate ligament, or ACL, is one of the four major ligaments of the knee. It connects the front of the tibia (shinbone) with the back of the femur (thighbone). It helps provide stability to the knee joint.

The strength and use of the surrounding muscle groups, such as quadriceps and hamstrings, have a serious impact on the ACL. When running and jumping, women tend to lead with their quads, whereas male athletes seem to have a better balance between the quads and the hamstring muscles. A balance between quads and hamstrings means the impact is more evenly distributed, thus reducing the pressure on the knee.

Another reason for increased knee pressure is that women have a wider pelvis which creates a larger Q-angle at the knee. This often results in a more “knock-kneed” posture in women, leaving the ACL more vulnerable for injury.

Q Angle 600 Knee Injuries: More Common in Women?

(image via http://blog.footsmart.com)

Additional anatomical factors in ACL tears such as the diameter of the ACL are still being researched.

Some doctors think women are more prone an ACL injury because of the differences in the amount of circulating hormones such as estrogen. Certain hormones give ligaments strength and flexibility. Fluctuations in hormone levels may have some impact on the function of the nerves and muscles and may lead to an increased risk of injury.

Form:

When researchers at the Loyola University Medical Center sought to explain why this increased risk of ACL injuries in women was occurring, they uncovered that poor form when landing a jump contributed to the risk.

“Women tend to land with the knees straighter and feet rotated inwards, compared to men who tend to land with more of a bend in the knee and the feet rotated slightly outward,” says Dr. Patrick McCulloch, an orthopedic surgeon with the Methodist Center for Sports Medicine in Houston who was involved in the research. “This puts the knee in a better position to absorb shock.”

After this discovery, the same researchers spent six weeks correcting these form issues resulted in a reduction in the likelihood of ACL injury by up to 50%.

Prevention Through Training:

As doctors and orthopedic surgeons were seeing an increase in ACL injuries in women, training and conditioning programs were designed to correct problems with form, strengthen knees and surrounding muscles and reduce the risk of injury. FIFA, the governing body of the World Cup and other international soccer tournaments, has designed a warm up program specifically designed to reduce the rate of ACL injuries in soccer players (male and female).

Teams that perform FIFA 11+  program at least twice a week, for 20 minutes at time, experience 30-50% fewer injured players, according to FIFA.

In addition, the Sports Physical Therapy department at Massachusetts General Hospital have put together a detailed sports conditioning program to help increase knee strength and reduce knee injuries specifically in female athletes through active warm-up, stretching, strengthening exercises, plyometric drills, and agility drills.

While ACL injuries for female athletes were reaching epidemic proportions, through understanding the problems causing the increase and creating prevention programs based on research, the rate of these injuries is on the decline.

Sources:

http://www.ucsfhealth.org/education/a_females_aching_knees/

http://www.prevention.com/fitness/strength-training/risk-knee-injury-increases-women

http://loyolamedicine.org/newswire/features/sports-medicine-surgeon-urges-girls-soccer-teams-try-acl-tear-prevention-drills

http://wcbe.org/post/epidemic-knee-injuries-young-female-athletes

http://www.aaos.org/news/aaosnow/nov10/research3.asp

http://www.ucdenver.edu/academics/colleges/medicalschool/departments/Orthopaedics/clinicalservices/sportsmed/Documents/WISH_SPORTSMED_Female%20Knee%20Injuries%20and%20ACL.pdf

http://www.athletestrengthandperformance.com/acl-anatomy-gender-disparity/

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2465242/

http://www.atipt.com/news-media/blog/acl-tears-and-knee-pain-more-common-women-activity