DoC:S | 3 Common Sports and Exercise Injuries and the Evidence-Based Reasons DCs are Positioned to be Leaders in Preventing Them
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3 Common Sports and Exercise Injuries and the Evidence-Based Reasons DCs are Positioned to be Leaders in Preventing Them

3 Common Sports and Exercise Injuries and the Evidence-Based Reasons DCs are Positioned to be Leaders in Preventing Them

Every January, many sports athletes and active people resolve to make this the year that they’ll reach their goals related to health and wellness, fitness, or enhanced performance. To make it happen, they make a commitment to hit the gym more often, train harder, and push themselves as far as they possibly can, often to the point of physical exhaustion.

While their dedication to being their personal best is truly commendable—especially in this day and age where many advancements are geared toward making life easier, not harder—the end result may be something they didn’t intend at all: an injury.

Injuries and Sports or Exercise

Obviously, no activity or sport is free from injury. For instance, just recently, USA Today reported that Cleveland Cavaliers’ Kevin Love sustained a non-displaced fracture in his left hand during a game against the Detroit Pistons. The NFL has also seen its share of injuries lately, with CBS Sports keeping a running tally of the players who’ve been sidelined—like Jermaine Gresham (Cardinals), Damarious Randall (Packers), and Eli Rogers (Steelers)—sharing that some of them are questionable to return.

But injury doesn’t have to keep people from the activities and sports they love, says Jay Greenstein, DC, CCSP, CKTP, CGFI, founder of Sport and Spine Rehab and Sport and Spine Athletics and Chairman of the Federation of International Chiropractic in Sports World Olympian Scholarship Program. In fact, Greenstein says that chiropractors specifically are in a prime position to help prevent three of the most common exercise and sports-related injuries today. What are they and how can DCs help?

#1: ACL Injuries

The first common injury is an injury to the anterior cruciate ligament, or ACL. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) reports that ACL tears are one of the top causes of knee instability and dysfunction and that they often affect female athletes disproportionately, with some studies finding that females sustain ACL ruptures “at two to eight times the rate of males.”

Greenstein agrees, sharing that this issue does tend to be more of an issue for female athletes, sometimes because of their different body structure (wider hips and larger posterior tibial slope) and other times due to differences in motion and function. Research published in The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery found that genes may play a role as well.

Because these injuries occur so often, Greenstein states that this is a great opportunity for chiropractors to position themselves as leaders in helping to prevent them. One way to do this is to institute an ACL tear prevention program. This could be achieved via on-site programs offered at local schools or in clinics, says Greenstein, simply by holding a group class to show proper exercises and training techniques for preventing ACL issues.

#2: Ankle Sprains

A second area of opportunity that exists for DCs who want to help their patients reduce sports and exercise-related injuries involves dealing with the common issue of ankle sprains. The University of California San Francisco Medical Center reports that, on any given day, this injury impacts approximately 25,000 people.

Greenstein states that prevention of ankle sprains for male athletes is critical since they are extremely common in male sports, especially football. Why? According to a study published in The American Journal of Sports Medicine, one of the top risk factors for ankle sprains is previous injury. Greenstein explains that this is because treatment often stops once the pain goes away, not necessarily once the injury is healed.

The second factor that this study found to impact ankle sprains is body mass index, or BMI. Specifically, it found that “an overweight player who had a previous ankle sprain was 19 times more likely to sustain a noncontact ankle sprain than was a normal-weight player with no previous ankle sprain.” The solution?

After addressing these risk factors, Greenstein suggests that you “put athletes on a proactive balance training program,”, citing that the same researcher who found the connection between ankle sprains, BMI, and past injury (Timothy Tyler, PT) did just that and found extremely positive results.

In a press release regarding the same, it was revealed that when Tyler used Thera-Band Stability Trainers with high school varsity football players five times per week in their off season and two times per week during their playing season, he saw a 77 percent reduction in ankle sprains.

#3: Hamstring Sprains

A third common sports injury is hamstring sprains, says Greenstein. In fact, when he did a study on the Washington Redskin cheerleaders—a group to which he has been the official team chiropractor since 1997—he found that this was the most prevalent injury. The cause? Primarily the drop split. 

Calling hamstring sprains “difficult to treat and very complex in terms of how patients respond,” Greenstein says that the key to prevention is to first understand functional issues. For instance, in many situations, the quadriceps overpower the hamstring, causing it to tear.

The next step is to “institute an eccentric training program,” says Greenstein. That’s what he did for the Redskins’ cheerleaders and the result was a 40 percent reduction in symptoms.

Positioning yourself as a leader in sports and exercise injury prevention not only benefits the athletes you serve, but it can also help increase your credibility and expertise in your field while boosting your revenues at the same time. In this case, everyone wins.DoCS is committed to raising the bar in chiropractic for athletes, so if you have any questions or article ideas, please feel free to contact us or share them in the comment section below. Reprints of this article are permitted as long as it links back to the DoCS website: DoCS is a non-profit organization sponsored by Performance Health

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