Osteopathy is a safe and natural approach to healthcare and recovery from injury. In many respects, it is the ideal treatment for most sports injuries because it is concerned, essentially, with the way in which the whole body functions.
Common complaints include:
Low back pain (with or without sciatica)
Muscle and ligament injuries
Knee pain (including mal-tracking and degenerative conditions)
Shoulder, elbow and wrist injuries
Foot and ankle complaints
Reduced joint flexibility (e.g. a golfer who cannot rotate as well as he used to)
Mechanical limitations (e.g. a gymnast who is starting to find increasing difficulty in achieving full “splits”)
Tennis and golfer’s elbow
Tenosynovitis and tendonitis
Two examples illustrate an osteopath’s ability not only to treat “difficult” musculoskeletal problems but also to understand, diagnose and treat the body as a whole (including areas separate, but related to the symptom area). These features can make all the difference in recovery and return to fitness.
A man in his late fifties, running at senior club level had a recurrent history of calf injuries in his right leg. After being assessed by a variety of therapists, he consulted an osteopath who discovered that the onset of the problem was a change of occupation two years previously. His new job required a lot of standing and examination revealed that he tended to stand with his right leg slightly bent. As a result, the calf muscle had started to shorten on that side. Osteopathy enabled him to stand more symmetrically, thus reducing the tension in the right calf. An improved stretching routine was then prescribed and a recovery from the injury (so far nonrecurring) was rapidly achieved.
A forty year old woman who played badminton and tennis at County level had a six month history of severe ‘tennis elbow’ pain. She was concerned that her injury was worsening and she knew a number of people who had been forced to give up their sports due to similar problems. Her osteopath discovered the problem was that her spine allowed very little rotation and her shoulder muscles (especially the ‘rotator cuff’) were very tight. She improved very well with treatment to her neck (where the nerve supply to the elbow arises from) and elbow. Importantly, her shoulder and upper back mobility was treated and substantially increased. This approach reduced the demands on her elbow and she not only returned to pain free racquet sports but also found her increased mobility meant she ended up having the most powerful smash shots she had ever had!
A sporting life – basic guidelines
If you are taking up a new sporting activity whether it is aerobics or football, seek the advice of a coach, trainer or instructor. You can then plan your programme so that it develops in parallel with your body’s ability to cope. Make sure you “warm up” (and stretch) beforehand and “warm down” and stretch afterwards. This is often not done well. If you are not sure, ask an expert! If you become injured and you are in any doubt of the severity of the injury seek urgent medical advice. Otherwise remember PRICED (especially relevant for arm and leg injuries):
Prevention (because it is always better to avoid any injuries by preparing adequately)
Rest (to prevent further injury)
Ice the injured area (not too cold: don’t freeze it!)
Compress the area (so that swelling is minimised)
Elevate the injury (if it’s a limb) to aid drainage)
Diagnosis (it is much easier to know what to do with your injury if you understand what damage has occurred).
Strapping or taping to protect an injury should be applied by an experienced person who understands the injury.