It’s a new year, and that means for many people, a fresh start! It’s the time of year where we want to get healthy and begin the year with a bang. Common goals are to be more active, lose some weight, get stronger, and smash last years’ PB. It’s at this point where a lot of people turn to their local gym or PT studio. Lots of people together, all with similar aims in mind – to better themselves. Many of us will head to the gym or the pool a little out of condition following a festive season of excessive eating, drinking and probably a little more sitting down than we should – a breeding ground for injury to occur! Back pain, shoulder pain and knee pain are all too common presentations
Here are a few of the common injuries we see in our Glen Iris Osteopathic practice and some of the things you can do to avoid giving yourself one.
For those of you who like to run, be it in the comfort of an air-conditioned gym or out in the fresh air, phrases like ‘ITB’ or ‘IT Band syndrome’ are probably familiar.
ITB syndrome, or Ilio-tibial band friction syndrome is an overuse injury which causes pain around the outside of the knee; the likely source of pain coming from a very sensitive pad of fat or bursa that sits beneath the long thick band that runs down the outside of your thigh. People usually experience an aching pain that is aggravated by running, and more often after long training sessions or running downhill. A combination of weak butt (gluteal) muscles, and specific dysfunctions along the spine to foot biomechanical chain can leave you at risk of developing this frustrating injury. Not to mention our cyclists.
“Swimming is one of the best forms of exercise”, “it works every muscle in the body”, “it’s a low impact form of exercise” … We’ve all heard, and probably said, these things at some point in our life. And it’s actually pretty spot on, so it’s no wonder lots of people try swimming. With swimming comes a lot of overhead arm movements, and with those movements come an increased risk of developing shoulder impingement syndrome. This is an umbrella term used to describe a whole host of different structures that can cause impingement related pain in the shoulder.
Commonly, the repetitive movements may lead to irritation/inflammation of one of the tendons of the rotator cuff muscles. It could also be the bursa that sits in the space between your ball and socket joint. You are more likely to develop this problem if you have poor shoulder stability, stiffness of your neck or mid-back and muscular weakness of the shoulder complex. Once irritated, overhead movements tend to be the most aggravating movements to perform, with pain being felt inside and over the top of the shoulder, and maybe further down the outside of the arm too.
Deadlift… Squat… Kettle bell swings… Bar bells… PUMP THAT IRON!! There are lots of gym junkies out there who just love to lift weights, lift weights, and lift more weights! And that is great, but everything in moderation – that goes for the gym newbies too. Lifting weights often requires lots of bending, squatting and explosive movements like standing straight under heavy load. Picture said gym junkie sat on a bench… They lean forward and down to pick up or put down a weight to their side and all of a sudden “Ouch! PAAAAAAAAAIN!!” Where is it? “My back, and down the back of my leg!”
The likely diagnosis here is a disc bulge or prolapse. We’ve all heard of them and yes, they can be extremely painful and debilitating. The acute back and shooting leg pain is caused by impingement of nerve tissue in the spine from the inside contents of one of the discs that sits between the vertebrae. It could have been building for some time from repetitive micro-trauma, or it could have just been that little bit too heavy for the disc to manage. Pain with disc injuries is often made worse by forward bending, sitting, coughing and sneezing, and lifting. People may also experience other symptoms such as pins and needles, numbness or weakness in their legs.
So how to avoid these injuries?
The best way to avoid injury is to be proactive. If you are thinking of starting up a new form of exercise, be it running, swimming, lifting weights or croquet, learn proper technique. This could be from an expert in the field, like a gym or swim instructor or personal trainer. You can even give us a call and we take you through a thorough FREE biomechanical assessment, where we watch you move and see where you might be restricted or weak. We even tailor the assessment to take into account your chosen activity. It would be worth spending some time on these areas first to ensure you are less likely to sustain an injury.
Another trick is to ease into your activity and know your limits. So maybe don’t enter yourself into a half marathon, a race to swim to Tasmania, or an attempt to break the deadlift world record straight off the bat. Be sensible, get guidance, and listen to your body. If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t right. It’s at this point that you should seek external help.
For the last 15 years, our Glen Iris Osteopaths have a been helping clients. We thrive on seeing our clients succeed i their health goals. So if you are experiencing some pain or irritation, give us a call and let us help you to get you to where you want to be. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, you will thank yourself in the end.