1. ACL Injury
What is it? The anterior cruciate ligament is one of the strongest ligaments in your knee that provides stability, and prevents excessive forward and rotational movement. During injury it can be stretched, partial torn or fully torn.
Why does it happen? These injuries are caused by abnormal movement patterns during sidestepping or landing tasks with increased knee valgus motion and/or increased internal tibial rotation.
How do you prevent it? Focus on strengthening the core muscles, hip abductors and hip external rotators in order to prevent excessive knee valgus and/or internal tibial rotation. For example, loop a band around your stance leg (above the knee) and tie it to a stationary object so that the resistance of the band pulls the leg inward. Try to maintain that stance leg in neutral alignment (don’t let the knee cave in). Slowly lower yourself into a single leg squat position. Only go as far as you can with proper control of the leg. Repeat 10-15 repetitions for 2 sets.
2. Ankle Sprain
What is it? The ankle is made up of a series of ligaments that connect the bones and provide stability. Injury to the ankle can stretch or tear one or several of these ligaments.
Why does it happen? 50% of soccer related ankle injuries occur during contact with another player; otherwise it occurs during twisting, tackling or kicking. Have you already sprained your ankle? If so, you are 5x more likely to sprain it again.
How do you prevent it? Work on balance and proprioceptive exercises. Step/lunge onto a bosu (or pillow) from different angles. Repeat 10-15 repetitions per leg. As it gets easier you can progress to bounding onto the bosu and holding for control.
3. Achilles Tendonitis
What is it? Inflammation of the Achilles tendon, which attaches the calf muscles (the gastrocnemius and the soleus) to the heel bone.
Why does it happen? It is highly vulnerable to injury given the high amounts of tension put on it during sports. It can also be injured due to improper warm-up, muscle imbalances or poor footwear.
How do you prevent it? Strengthen your calves. Balance on a step and rise up onto your toes, then slowly lower yourself back down. Repeat 10-15 times for 2 sets. As it gets easier you can progress to doing one leg at a time.
4. Adductor Strain
What is it? The adductors are a group of muscles in the inner thigh that work together to stabilize the pelvis and move the hip. Injury usually involves a strain to one or more of these muscles.
Why does it happen? Kicking, changing direction and reaching put a large eccentric force on the adductor muscles, which puts them at risk for injury. Adductor strains are usually due to overuse and muscle imbalance.
How do you prevent it? Perform the Copenhagen adduction exercise. In a side plank position, rest on your elbow, raise your top leg and rest it on a bench. Your lower leg starts at the ground and you raise it towards your top leg. Slowly repeat 6-15 reps per side for 3 sets.
5. Hamstring Injury
What is it? The hamstrings are a group of 3 muscles at the back of your leg that help with hip and knee movements. Injury can involve a strain to the muscle or a full tear.
Why does it happen? Injury usually happens due to the high loads placed on the hamstrings during kicking and sprinting.
How do you prevent it? The Nordic hamstring exercise is one of the most widely used exercises to prevent hamstring injuries. Start from a kneeling position. Use a partner to hold your ankles or hook your feet under something heavy. Engage your core and hamstrings and slowly move forward towards the ground. Keep your hands ready to assume a push-up position. When your hands reach the ground push yourself back up. Try to go slow on the way down with control. Repeat 6-10 times for 2 sets.
If you’re looking for a sports medicine clinic in the Oakville and Mississauga area to treat your current injuries or help put together a program to prevent future injuries, contact Sheddon Physiotherapy and Sports Clinic at 905-849-4576.
Do you want to boost your athletic performance? Reduce your risk for injury? Improve your reaction time, accuracy and speed? The secret is easier than you think, and doesn’t cost a single cent. Yet, most young athletes often neglect this essential component of their training: SLEEP! Sleep is a vital component of the recovery process following intense training and competition. It provides both psychological and physiologically benefits. However, sleep deprivation is very common in young athletes due to extensive training schedules, anxiety, lack of awareness of the importance of sleep and poor sleep hygiene. Why is catching enough z’s so important and what can you do to ensure a better quality sleep?
Most athletes are well aware of the benefits of proper nutrition, skill training and conditioning to improve athletic performance. So what exactly happens while you’re sleeping that is so important? The body regenerates and repairs cells, and allows restoration of several systems such as the immune, nervous and endocrine system. It also releases hormones that help with recovery. Certain hormones such as growth hormone and androgens are only released during the deep sleep cycle and they are vital for muscle repair, muscle building and bone growth. Therefore, the quality of sleep you’re getting is just as important as the quantity.
Sleep deprivation can lead to a number of detrimental effects on your athletic performance (decreased reaction time, speed and strength), cognitive function (poor attention, concentration and motivation) and risk for injury (compromised immune function, impaired muscle damage repair). Studies have shown, even a single night of sleep deprivation can impair your cognitive and motor performance equivalent to alcohol intoxication.
Current guidelines recommend that 7-9 hours of sleep is essential for psychological (ability to learn, motivation, and memory) and physiological recovery (metabolism and inflammation). Moreover, athletes require an even greater quantity of sleep to recover from injury and intense training. If you’ve struggled with getting enough sleep, read the strategies below for some tips on how you can change your sleep habits:
- Avoid stimulating activities prior to sleep and limit electronic device use at least 1 hour prior to bedtime;
- The optimal sleeping environment should be cool, comfortable, noise-free and dark (to achieve these conditions you may need to use a fan, eye mask, ear plugs, light blocking blinds, white noise machine or app);
- Keep daytime napping to a maximum of 30 minutes;
- Limit exposure to bright lights in the late evening, as they can have an alerting effect and decrease the release of melatonin. (i.e., dim the lights, and limit LED screen use several hours before bed);
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol in the evening;
- Stick with a consistent time for going to sleep and waking up.
Marshall et al., (2016). The importance of Sleep for Athletic Performance. Strength and Conditioning Journal. 38,1,61-68.
In the past, most young athletes were encouraged to play multiple sports in order to develop better overall athletic ability. However, youth sports has changed drastically, seasons are longer and kids are encouraged to compete in year-round leagues in hope of reaching elite status at a younger age. Parents and coaches hear stories of Michelle Wie and the Williams sisters, and how they were holding a golf club and swinging a racquet while still in diapers, and figure the key to athletic success MUST be specializing at a young age. However, the medical community, trainers and many high profile athletes are arguing that this trend may be detrimental to the development of young athletes. Unfortunately, a lot of the support for and against early specialization has been anecdotal. Only recently have researchers started to look at the short and long term effects of this new trend. Continue reading below in order to gain a better understanding of the benefits and drawbacks of early sport specialization.
Research proven benefits of early sport specialization:
- Better coaching and skill instruction;
- Better skill development through deliberate practice
Unsupported reasons athletes specialize early:
- To gain a competitive edge;
- To master skills faster;
- Early talent recognition;
- Increased opportunity for scholarships/professional contracts;
- Fear of falling behind
Research proven disadvantages of early sport specialization:
- Athletes develop a significantly higher number of acute and overuse injuries;
- Loss of time, money and missed educational opportunities;
- Athlete burnout, anxiety and decreased enjoyment;
- Inhibition of proper physical development;
- Overtraining – year-long training often overlooks proper recovery;
- Breakdown of family structure due to time, money and sacrifices of the whole family.
Benefits of multi-sport participation
- Linked to a longer athletic career and does NOT hinder reaching elite levels;
- Allows for the development of a broader range of fundamental motor skills;
- Increased motivation and enjoyment;
- Allows for periods of rest and active recovery;
- Leads to expert development and transferable motor skills
Current recommendations include:
- Children should not play one sport more than 8 months per year;
- The early childhood years (ages 3-7) should focus on fundamental motor skill competency through a variety of activities.
- In the upper elementary years (ages 7-11) children should sample many sports and refine fundamental skills.
- In the middle school years (ages 11-13) continue sport sampling but can begin to specialize in 1-2 key sports.
- In the high school years (ages 14-18) one can continue to engage in multiple sports or enhance skillfulness through specialization.
- Young athletes should have a minimum of 1-4 off weeks per year to prevent injury and burnout;
- No more hours per week than their age;
- Education should not be sacrificed at the expense of sports. Home schooling and online education in place of regular schooling have a major negative impact on the overall social development of young athletes.
Parents, coaches, athletes and trainers must understand that early sport specialization will not guarantee future athletic success. A recent poll found that 88% of Olympic athletes and 70% of Division 1 athletes did not specialize in one sport until at least the age of 12. Athletes like Tiger Woods who started specializing at a very young age are much more rare than the multi-sport athlete who specialized in a sport later. Parents must weigh the pros and cons of early sport specialization and decide if it is right for their child and family.
Normand et al. (2017). A Review of Early Sport Specialization in Relation to the Development of a Young Athlete. International Journal of Kinesiology and Sport Science. 5:2, 37-42.
Roughly 20% of volleyball players will suffer an injury at some point in their career, with ankle sprains making up roughly 50% of all injuries experienced in volleyball athletes across all skill levels. Luckily, ankle sprains can be prevented with education and coaching on proper skill techniques/mechanics, as well as specific conditioning exercises such as balance and proprioceptive exercises. The therapists at Sheddon Physiotherapy and Sports Clinic have worked with numerous volleyball players from young athletes just learning the sport to higher-level rep players from clubs in Oakville/Mississauga such as Pakmen Volleyball. The team at SPSC can help identify athletes at risk for injury as well as quickly and efficiently rehabilitate athletes who have suffered an injury.
Most ankle sprains (89%) occur around the net from landing after a block or an attack. They generally result from stepping on the foot of an opponent or a teammate. The greatest risk factor for an ankle sprain is a previous history of ankle injuries, especially if it occurred in the past 6-12 months and was not rehabilitated properly.
- One of the most effective prevention strategies is education and training regarding proper take off and landing technique during blocking and attacks. More specifically, players should be taught to jump straight up to hit the ball, instead of forward, so that they will not land on the centre line under the net. In addition, players need to practice take off and landing during 2 man blocks.
- Proprioceptive training to improve stability and balance. Proprioceptive exercises should be included in every warm up, and should only take 5 minutes to complete. They will generally involve the use of balance boards, bosu, trampolines, and ladders. For example: a. player standing on one leg and tosses a ball to another player or against wall 10/leg x 5 sets. B. Single leg stance on the balance board/bosu for 30 sec x 2 sets. C. Mini squats on balance board 10x 2 sets. D. Ladder drills to work on agility and coordination.
- Proper rehabilitation post ankle injury in order to prevent reoccurrence.
- The use of support (brace or tape) to protect the ankle. Research has shown that bracing/taping decreases the incidence of ankle sprains in previously sprained ankles, but not in previously uninjured ankles. The greatest risk of reinjury is during the first year post ankle sprain, due to weakness in the ligament and proprioceptive ability, as such athletes should brace/tape for the first year post injury.
Sheddon Physiotherapy and Sports Clinic has been treating athletes of all ages and skill levels for over 10 years in the Oakville and Mississauga area. If you’re currently injured, book an appointment with one of our physiotherapists, chiropractors, athletic therapists or massage therapists in order to help get you back on the court healthy and pain-free. If you’re not currently injured, the therapists at Sheddon can get you started on an injury prevention and strengthening program by working on your specific weaknesses and imbalances to help prevent any future injuries. If you’re looking for a sports medicine clinic in the Oakville and Mississauga area that has great therapists AND will get you results quickly, then contact Sheddon Physiotherapy and Sports Clinic at 905-849-4576.
Osgood Schlatters, Severs and Sinding Larsen Johansson diseases are common adolescent conditions that people think of when they hear of injuries affecting young rapidly growing athletes. However, traumatic injuries, such as ACL tears and overuse injuries, such as stress fractures, are also more prevelant during the adolescent growth spurt. Many adolescent athletes are specializing in sport earlier and are engaging in year round training. How can you make sure that your young athletes can continue to train during this vulnerable stage of development without suffering from injury?
Physiological changes during the Adolescent Growth Spurt
- Hormonal changes, such as an increase in estrogen in girls, has been shown to potentially lead to increases in ligament laxity, and therefore decrease joint stability;
- The bones are growing faster than the muscles can adapt in terms of flexibility and strength, which puts a lot of stress on the muscle-tendon junctions, bone-tendon junctions, ligaments and growth cartilage;
- Increased risk of growth plate injury due to decreased physeal strength during this time;
- Increases in height lead to a higher center of mass, which makes muscular control of the body and balance more challenging;
- Bone mineralization lags behind bone linear growth, which makes the bone more fragile to injury;
- “Adolescent Awkardness”, whereby growth is occurring at different rates and there is now an imbalance in strength, flexibility and coordination;
- Altered landing biomechanics in response to growth and development (i.e., increased knee valgus);
- Sensorimotor function is not fully mature by the time children reach adolescence.
Injury Prevention Strategies
- Stay flexible by keeping the muscles at an optimal length as the bones grow, with particular focus on the hamstrings, quadriceps and lower back (which have all been shown to be excessively tight during the adolescent growth spurt).
- Strengthening key muscles (i.e., core/hips, etc.) to prevent imbalance.
- Focus on exercises that develop neuromuscular control, proprioception and postural stability, especially for young female athletes.
- Proper technique in landing and jumping, since this is one of the main mechanisms of injury in this age group.
- Careful monitoring of training workload during this vulnerable period, especially if the athlete is showing early signs of an injury.
If you are the parent, coach or trainer of a young growing athlete, be proactive and chat with one of the therapists at Sheddon Physiotherapy and Sports Medicine on injury prevention strategies. If your child is already showing signs of injury, book them in for an assessment to help alleviate pain and return to sport healthy.