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Sports Injuries and prevention

We have noticed here at that there seems to have been an increase in sports injuries over the last few years.  You may think that this is because more people are exercising or doing a new sport and exercise is not as good for you as we are led to believe.  

This is, of course, completely wrong!  

If anything exercising regularly can help keep injuries at bay as your joints, tendons, ligaments, muscles and discs get used to the habit of exercise.  The body learns to accommodate and cope with the demands of keeping fit as long as you are consistent.  It tends to be the yo-yo exercisers that take up and drop training repeatedly who end up with injuries.


Many injuries can be prevented and we have chatted with a few physiotherapist's to get their take on the most common injuries and the best way they can be prevented:


1. Muscle Pulls

Causes: Muscle pulls are very common.  Small tears occur within that lead to a strain when the muscle is stretched too far or exceeds its tensile load.  Inadequate warm up exercises, muscle fatigue, lack of flexibility and muscle weakness are the most common causes of muscle pulls.

Symptoms: Pain in the muscle area on applying pressure, stretch or load, swelling or inflammation, weakness and soreness.

Treatment: RICE (rest, ice, compression and elevation) immediately as well as gentle pain free stretches after 48 hrs.  Commence pain free activity as soon as possible to help increase circulation and heal the area.

Prevention: The best way to prevent pulling a muscle is to stretch properly before and after exercising and avoid working out when the muscle is fatigued or weakened.


2. Low Back Pain

Causes: Usually lower-back-pain pain results from sedentary lifestyle, poor training techniques, weakness and poor preperation.  Leg length discrepancy, poor lower limb biomechanics and poor footwear can also cause back pain.

Symptoms: Back pain is usually associated with some muscle spasm which restricts movements such as bending or straghtening and is often painful to sit as well.

Prevention: Some lower-back injuries cannot be prevented, but warming up properly before exercising will greatly reduce the risk as will having good strong core as well as gluteal muscles.

Treatment: Lower-back pain can be treated with rest from the aggravating activity and gentle pain free stretching.  Also applying heat to the area can help reduce the muscle spasm and hence the pain.  Taping and using a temporary lumbar support can help reduce the muscle spasm.


3. Runner's Knee

Causes: Knee injuries comprise about 55% of all sports injuries.  It is often caused by weak quadriceps, tightness of some other related muscle groups, imbalances around the knee, poor pelvic control, incorrect footwear and overtraining.

Symptoms: Knee pain below the kneecap and on the sides of the kneecap, particularly with the deep knee bend or prolonged sitting, and swelling in the knee are some of the symptoms.  It is often noticed on climbing stairs.

Prevention: Correct footwear, grade the exercise program, use a softer running surface such as an indoor track rather than hard pavement, strengthen your quadriceps and gluteal muscles through weight appropriate training.  Stretch before and after the activity.

Treatment: This can vary from rest, pain medication, strength training exercises, taping and the use of knee supports/braces.


4. Ankle Sprains

Causes: If the foot accidentally turns inwards, it stretches and tears the ligaments on the outside of the ankle.

Symptoms: Immediate pain at the site with swelling over outside of ankle.  The injured area becomes tender, swollen and may feel unstable.

Treatment: RICE immediately for 48-72 hours, wearing ankle braces during the healing process.  Once healed increase ankle control with balance exercises.

Prevention: Regular exercises to strengthen muscles around the ankles.


If you happen to have an injury it is important to get it checked out by a professional physiotherapist or you GP before self medicating.  There are many different brands on the market selling an array of supports for each injury but it is important that you get the right support for your injury.

Prevention is the best medicine - remember to exercise regularly to your ability, warm up/down, don't overdo it and take care!