Amateur athletes who are involved in regular physical activity (running, football) for health reasons have become a common sight in recent decades. In recent years “the intermediate athlete” has appeared who reaches high standards without turning sport into their profession. Marathon runs, ultra-marathons, triathlons, “iron man” and so forth require intense training several times a week for many months, which overload the skeleton and the muscles and could cause damages and injuries to the tissues.
Sports injuries are divided into sudden (acute) injuries which are caused by a stronger force than the ability of the tissue coping mechanism, and gradual injuries caused by overuse and microscopic damages that accumulate, worsen and harm the athlete’s functioning.
The response by the body to a tissue injury (inflammation) is designed to prevent the progress of the damage and to repair it. The most common expressions are pain, increase of the blood flow to the area, swelling, difficulty in use and local temperature.
Dependent on the field of the sport injuries are caused in different areas of the body, however the types of injuries are recurrent.
- Tendons and muscles: Force is activated by the muscle when it contracts and the stretching force activated on it (and on the tendons at its extremities) by external forces (force of gravity, body weight, external factors). Intense activation of the muscle over time or activation of external forces that are stronger than the force of the muscle and the tendon, cause tearing and inflammation. If the force is sufficiently sudden and strong the muscle or the tendon will tear completely.
- Rotating cuff tendons – tendons at the front of the shoulder, the function of which is to stabilize the joint and execute smooth and precise movements.
- Tennis elbow (external) and golf elbow (internal) caused by damage and inflammation to the tendons in the areas of the connections of the arm muscles to the elbow muscles and cause pain also in daily functioning (shaking hands, use of a keyboard).
- Trigger finger – tendons of the muscles moving the fingers slip into special “sheaths”. When they are activated with prolonged overloading or under considerable external tension inflammation develops on the sheath causing the tendon “to stick” and the finger is “caught” mid-movement.
- Muscle stretching thigh bends on the sides of the groin or knee bends behind the thigh. These muscles are activated intensely for many hours during running, jumping, landing, kicking and more.
- Knee pain – “runner’s knee” is an inflammation on the external part of the knee from stretching and friction between the tendon and the bone. “Jumper’s knee” is an inflammation of the pica tendon that connects to the shin.
- Achilles tendon – the strongest in the body and functions against body weight forces. Prolonged training overuse could cause continuing inflammation and sudden activation could cause a tear.
- “Spur” – an inflammation of the strong membrane which connects between the heel bone and the frontal bones of the foot and absorbs shocks when running and jumping
- Ligaments, dislocations and sprains – ligaments (strong and rigid lengthwise tissues connected to the bones on both sides of a joint) restrict the movement of the bones one against the other. A strong external force acting on the joint could cause deviation of the bones, “opening” of the joint, stretching/tearing of the ligaments and long-term damage to the stability of the joint.
- Dislocation of the shoulder – movement of the bone of the forearm towards the margins of the area of contact with the shoulder blade. Forward dislocation is caused by a direct trauma or by stopping a fall with the hand when the elbow is straight and the hand is turned outwards.
- Dislocation of the finger joints – a direct trauma at the finger tip (falling, injuring an opponent, trauma from basketball) – “ski thumb” (dislocation due to a strong trauma when holding a ski stick).
- Knee ligaments – 4 ligaments (anterior, posterior, side, central) stabilize and direct the knee movements. When activating considerable force (mainly when the knee is in an angle position) when landing or a direct trauma, the ligaments could tear and cause pain, swelling, internal bleeding and prolonged instability of the joint.
- Ankle sprain – movement of the upper bone in the foot out of its place between the shin bones caused mainly by running/landing on the front of the foot (when the foot is bent downwards and rotated inwards).
- Interjoint superficial structures – the knee meniscus and the labrum of the shin and the shoulder absorb the forces passing through the joint and stabilize the bones one against the other. Dislocation, a strong rotational movement or prolonged overuse could cause folding, pinching, injuring or tearing. The pain will appear during a strong and sudden movement and will damage the movement of the joint or will increase gradually and at certain angles.
- Bones – a rigid structure designed to cope with strong forces (mainly along the bone) however when it is rapidly overloaded (bar of effort) a strong sudden force or one that comes from the side (trauma) could create an actual fracture or small stress fractures which are painful mainly with stress and could become full fractures:
- Fractures of the palm – mainly in fingers or the scaphoid in the palm as a result of direct trauma to the tip of the finger or from falling on the hand.
- Fractures of the hip and shin – when running long distances for prolonged periods, the durability of the bone to loads is affected by the bar of effort, nutrition, rest, genetic structure, style of running, shoes, the type of ground and more.
- Shin splint – pain similar to stress fractures in the internal part of the shin after long runs and due to inflammation in the area of the connection of the muscles to the bone sheath. The pain is common when increasing loads in training, replacing shoes or a change of the surface during training.
The information presented in this article is general. It does not constitute medical advice or replace consultation with a physician. It should not be regarded as a recommendation or an alternative for medical treatment.
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