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Tackling Sports Injuries

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Sports injuries have been on the rise with the increase in people exercising on their own. Here are some common ones.

When the Circuit Breaker was implemented, general practitioners started to see more patients with sports injuries, largely brought on by the weekend warrior syndrome. Following exercise videos without proper warm-ups and cool downs, or using improper footwear can contribute to stress fractures and sprains, as can rushing into doing strenuous exercises after being sedentary for months.

Below are some common injuries and what you can do about them:Runner’s Knee 
Patellofemoral pain syndrome, or Runner’s Knee, is one of the most common of knee injuries. It can be caused by

  • an overuse of the knees, e.g. doing exercises that strain the knees, such as lunges;
  • a direct hit to the knee, e.g. a fall or blow; or
  • weak or unbalanced thigh muscles.

How to treat it: Use RICE (rest, ice, compression and elevation) to cope with a minor injury. Give your knee some rest, apply ice to reduce swelling, wear a compressive bandage, and keep your knee elevated. As high-impact exercises can be jarring on the knees, it’s best to avoid exercises such as running, jumping and kickboxing. Also, stay away from doing lunges and deep squats — these put a lot of stress on your knees and can cause injury if not done correctly. If your knee pain is new, have it checked out by a doctor.

Hamstring Strain 
A hamstring injury occurs when you pull one of your hamstring muscles, the group of three muscles that run along the back of your thigh. Hamstring injuries are more common in those who play soccer, basketball, football, tennis or similar sports that involve stops and starts. Poor stretching techniques or lack of stretching can also cause a hamstring tear/strain.

How to treat it: To reduce pain and swelling, your doctor may recommend that you stay away from strenuous exercises, use a cane or crutches to avoid putting your full weight on your injured leg, and apply ice packs to reduce swelling. After the pain and swelling subside, you should see a physiotherapist, who can teach you specific exercises to improve flexibility and strengthen your hamstring muscles.

Sciatica refers to pain that occurs when the sciatic nerve, which branches from your lower back through your hips and buttocks and down each leg, is pinched. Some people also have numbness, tingling or muscle weakness in the affected leg or foot. Cyclists, golfers and tennis players appear to be more susceptible to sciatica.

How to treat it: Medication such as anti-inflammatories may be recommended and, once the pain wears off, physical therapy can help prevent future injuries.

Prevention Is Better Than Cure 
The best way to prevent these injuries in the first place is to avoid sudden bursts of physical activity, as the body takes time to adjust from a sedentary to an active mode. As gyms begin to open, you should take your time to ease back into your regular exercise routines rather than jump in head-first.