Training man with bandages

Published on May 1st, 2014 | by Joe Starks


Athletic Science: Permanent Injuries

Most of us will get some injury or another during our lives. It might be falling off our bicycle as kids and hitting our knee, or we might do a sports class and hurt our shoulder. The problem begins when these injuries become permanent and are impossible to cure. Living with a permanent injury takes a lot of mental strength, so that you can continue being fit without causing your body any more harm. In this article we’ll discuss the most common permanent sports injuries, how to prevent them from happening and how to live with them when it is already too late.

The Most Common Sports Injuries

Almost every professional athlete will suffer an injury at some point. Those of us who do sports just to keep fit usually are in less danger of having an injury, but the danger is still there. Permanent injuries are probably the greatest disadvantage of a very active life, but if you think of the pain and injuries an unhealthy lifestyle causes it isn’t really such a daunting fact.

There are two main types of permanent injury:

  • Acute Injuries, which happen suddenly, like when you fall off a horse, are usually extremely severe from the very moment the first stress is applied to the area. Acute injuries are potentially very dangerous if a sensitive area is affected. Getting a concussion, a blow to the spinal cord or having a severe hemorrhage can prove fatal.
  • Overuse Injuries, which happen over time. Overuse Injuries happen when little by little stress is applied on an area. If the area isn’t allowed to heal before more stress is applied, then you get accumulative damage which finally will lead to an injury that isn’t curable anymore.

When you get an acute injury, you should immediately go to the hospital and get treatment.

It is very hard, on the other hand, to diagnose an overuse injury before it is too late. It is best to be careful and to go to a GP immediately when you feel any unusual discomfort while training. A good sign to tell soreness apart from an injury is that soreness is supposed to go away after a couple of days of good rest. An injury will still hurt for much longer than that.

Most permanent injuries happen at:

  • The Knees
  • The Lower Back
  • The Neck
  • The shoulder
  • The Foot and Ankle

How to Prevent Permanent Injuries

There is one thing every athlete, professional or not, should do to prevent most common injuries: WARMING UP!

The importance of a good warm up can’t be stressed enough. Never hurry to do the main exercise unless all your muscles are warmed up and ready. A gentle jog, slow floor exercises and mock exercises will do just fine. Just avoid any impact or hurried movements while warming up. Most injuries happen when we are tense and our muscles are unprepared.

After every training session you should do some GENTLE flexing exercises. I stress out that these exercises must be GENTLE, because you really don’t want to overstretch a muscle or cause any damage. Flexing should be done just at the point when it becomes uncomfortable, not a tiny bit further.

It is important to wear the correct gear when exercising. No running in heels or dancing in overly tight, inflexible clothes. Your clothes should be at the right balance between comfortable and supporting to help you exercise.

How to Exercise with a Permanent Injury

Having a permanent injury doesn’t mean that you can’t exercise. There are plenty of ways to continue being fit, which might actually benefit your injury.

First of all, you need to work around your injury. For instance, if you have a bad knee, you should try low impact exercise like swimming, which avoids most stress on the knee. If the muscles around the injured area are strong then there will be less stress on that area.

If your injury is only on one side, you should be sure you work out the other side well. For instance, if your left ankle is severely injured, make sure your right one is fit, because it will have to compensate during your walking.

Staying at a healthy weight will help you avoid added stress on your injury. That your injury is permanent doesn’t mean that your condition can’t improve. It simply means that, to a varying degree, the injured area will never be as pain free and functional as it was before. Symptoms may vary from absolute disability to a small pain every now and then, so every different injury needs its own fitness plan.

Never exercise with a permanent injury without your doctor’s approval and ensure that your trainer knows your medical history!


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