Sport is an excellent way for kids and teenagers to build fitness, establish social connections and learn about teamwork. Here on the Bellarine Peninsula, we are lucky to live in a very active community where we can access a wide range of sports and activities. Whilst playing sport is great fun; there are some less enjoyable aspects associated with it – injuries!
Injuries are common, and in young athletes, the injuries we often see presenting to Ocean Grove and Leopold Osteopathy (OGOSH) can be broadly placed into two main categories: Acute/Traumatic Injuries (such as a rolled ankle) or Overuse Injuries (like shin splints).
Acute and traumatic sports injuries are often hard to prevent as they are often trauma-related. Overuse injuries, however, can be prevented or minimised in the vast majority of cases.
What is an Overuse Injury?
Overuse injuries occur when a structure (like a bone, muscle or tendon) experiences repeated stress without adequate time for the body to heal. Young athletes are at high risk of overuse injuries because growing bones are not equipped to deal with stress. Secondly, during growth periods, the bones in our bodies grow quicker than the muscles, which causes the muscles to be put under stress and become tight, potentially leading to areas of discomfort.
Common Types of Overuse Injury:
- Heel Pain (Sever’s Disease): Common during ages 8-14 and sports involving lots of running, especially on hard surfaces
- Knee Pain (Osgood-Schlatter’s Disease): Common during growth spurts and in running and Jumping sports
- Shin Pain (Shin Splints): Common in sports with a high amount of running, footwear and foot type (flat feet) are all contributing factors
Seeking Treatment for Overuse Injury
A simple piece of advice our osteopaths give to clients experiencing pain is “if in doubt, get it checked out”. Early diagnosis and appropriate management strategies can often minimise the severity of the presenting complaint and lead to as little interruption to the athletes training and playing as possible. When athletes wait until the pain is debilitating or making them have to stop playing their sport, it is harder to get them back doing what they love quicker.
What can an Osteopath do for Overuse Injuries?
At Ocean Grove Osteopathy and Sports Health clinics, our trained osteopaths identify the cause of pain and the factors that may be contributing to the development of pain. Our Ocean Grove and Leopold osteopaths will provide a clear diagnosis of your condition and work with you to implement an appropriate management strategy to help you recover from the injury in the quickest possible time frame. Common hands-on osteopath treatment approaches for overuse injuries involve soft tissue massage, stretching, dry needling, joint mobilisation. These treatments are incorporated with a tailored strength and conditioning program where needed.
What can I do to Prevent Overuse Injuries from Occurring?
- Warm-up: it is important to do a proper warm-up that prepares the body for the activity it is about to undertake; a dynamic warm-up should include movements used during the chosen sport and gradually increase in intensity.
- Cool down/stretching: doing a gentle cool down following sport and then stretching in the days following is beneficial to reduce the stress placed on muscles/bones from high-intensity sports.
- Hydration: making sure you drink enough water before, during and after the game to keep your muscles hydrated.
- Rest: young athletes need to have at least one rest day per week to allow their bodies to recover from playing sport.
- Variety: performing one sport at high volumes can lead to stress patterns developing in our body. Mixing things up and playing different sports/games now and then is great to give the body a rest from specific stressors. For example, if you are a soccer player, bike riding is a great alternative to give your legs a rest from the stress of running.
Contact Experienced Leopold and Ocean Grove Osteopaths
If you or your child are experiencing an overuse injury, contact the Ocean Grove and Leopold Osteopathy and Sports Health team on 5255 5040 (Ocean Grove clinic) or 4202 0446 (Leopold clinic) to book an appointment, and our experienced osteopaths can help get you back doing what you love!