Sports injuries - Centurions Worldwide Community

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injuries and how to avoid them
Sports injuries are a common occurence amongst many athletes, not least ultra distance race walkers. They are an occupational hazard!
So what can go wrong?
back and knee injuries are common problems for ultra distance athletes and  can cause many DNFs (did not finish) in 100 mile races
and what can happen to us for leading  for such an "outdoor life"
see below....

what hurts?
back - knee - first aid
back injuries

Back Pain - does that mean I can't exercise?
Tim Erickson , Secretary, Australian Centurions Club writes

Back pain and more specifically, low back pain is a common ailment that will effect the majority of people at some stage in their life.
In most cases it can be treated easily by specific exercises or it may resolve by itself.  Unfortunately in some instances the pain is due to damage to spinal structures such as the disc, facet joint, nervous tissue or supporting ligaments and muscles. In these cases specific diagnosis and treatment is important to optimise recovery. As a general rule of thumb it is advised any acute severe low back pain should be assessed by your physiotherapist or doctor.
The spine is a complex system of 24 vertebrae which connect the skull to the sacrum. It houses and protects the nervous system, provides a bony framework for the rest of the body and muscular system. The bones or vertebrae are separated by discs and each vertebrae connects or articulates at three places with the vertebrae above and below.
One joint is the intervertebral joint which includes the disc and this is supported by a small facet joint on each side. Ligaments and muscles bind each vertebrae together and give additional strength and help control movement of your spine.

What causes back pain?
Any of the structures mentioned above can be a source of pain. The cause can be acute such as injury, trauma or strain, poor postural habits and repeated micro-trauma (i.e. poor lifting technique) are a more common cause of low back pain.
The other common cause is degenerative changes in the disc and facet joints.

How can you prevent it?
Adopt good habits!
  • Regular exercise: which includes specific exercise for the lumbar spine. People spend increasing amounts of time sitting down which often puts the lumbar spine in a flexed position. Taking the lumbar spine through the normal range of motion on a daily basis to keep it flexible.
  • Posture: avoid poor postural positions in work and recreation activities. Most commonly avoid prolonged periods with the spine in a flexed position. This includes proper lifting techniques.
  • Sleeping: your mattress should be firm and supportive.
  • Control: Extra weight puts increased strain on your spine

Generally, it can be said that regular exercise will be beneficial to people who suffer from low back pain; basically if your pain increases with exercise, consult your doctor or physiotherapist. If you are unsure, you should seek advice rather than hoping it will 'go away'.
The knee is one of the largest and most complex joints in the body.
The knee joins the femur (thigh bone) to the tibia (shin bone). The smaller bone that runs alongside the tibia (the fibula) and the kneecap (patella) are the other bones that make the knee joint.
The knee joints serve a vital role holding up our bodyweight and are put through even more pressure when you walk, run or jump.
Knee pain is very common, both from sport injuries and the wear and tear of day-to-day life.
Knee pain can come from injuries including sprains, swollen or torn ligaments (anterior cruciate ligament or ACL), meniscus or cartilage tears and runner's knee.
Conditions that can cause knee pain

  • Tendonitis. This is an overuse injury causing swelling of the tendons, the bands of tissue that connect your bones and muscles. This is sometimes called 'jumper's knee' as it is common in sports involving jumping, such as basketball.

  • Bone chips. Sometimes, a knee injury can break off fragments from the bone or cartilage. These pieces can get stuck in the joint, causing it to freeze up. You may also have pain and swelling.

  • Housemaid's knee or bursitisis caused by kneeling for long periods of time or repetitive knee movements. Fluid builds up in the bursa, the sac of fluid that cushions the knee joints. Swelling behind the knee is called a 'Baker's cyst' and may be caused by injuries or arthritis.

  • Bleeding in the knee joint. This injury is also called haemarthrosis and affects blood vessels around the knee ligaments causing the knee to feel warm, stiff, bruised and swollen. This may require hospital treatment in severe cases.

  • Iliotibial band syndrome. This is an overuse injury to the iliotibial band of tissue that runs from the hip to the shin passed the knee.

  • Medial plica syndrome. This overuse injury affects the plica, a fold of tissue in the knee joint.

  • Osgood-Schlatter Disease. This overuse condition is common in teenagers playing sport and causes swelling and tenderness over the bony bump just below the knee.

  • Partially dislocated kneecap (or patellar subluxation). This is usually due to a physical condition with the legs rather than a sports injury. The kneecap slides out of position and causes pain and swelling. [source:]

It is not unusual for long/ultra distance walkers to experience knee pain as many of today's races take place on short courses, often with very tight "turn points'. All this puts presssure on the knees.

Stretching is often essential to prevent many strains to various parts of our bodies - back, glutes, hamstrings, quads as well as the knees.
So, to prevent knee pain, aid recovery and keep yourself free of pain there are stretches which can help.
first aid
An important part of your race kit.
the most common issues walkers suffer from in a 100 mile/24 hour race are blisters (feet) and muscular problems - mostly quads...

Many race organisers  do provide excellent paramedics or first aiders who know what they are doing - especially when it comes to treating blisters.
But make sure you take your own blister kit, vaseline, taping plaster, etc,  just in case.

If you do tend to get annoying "hot spots" on your feet whilst trainng  - use something like Compeed before you start the race.   And, if you tend to blister in the same place on every race, try taping up toes, heels, balls of feet, etc, before you start.   But do try it all out in a training session first.

Kinesio tape is also good for those problem muscular issues.

be sensible
It is hard to miss a race or a training session through illness or injury.
a headache or a cold –  generally OK to do some sort of exercise but be mindful if you want to race hard.
Breathing problems?– then you should rest.

The key thing is to be sensible. After recovering from an illness - trust your instincts.  Don’t go straight back into training four or five times a week or do a hard race.
You might want to do the same number of sessions but make them shorter, or do fewer.

post injury
Depending on the type of injury and whether you have had physio sessions, etc,  will dictate how quickly you can start training again . As always - be sensible!
Health matters

As ultra athletes we do spend a great deal of time outdoors whether training or racing.
We need to be very much aware of what we can be susceptible to as we enjoy the freedom of walking (or, running, hiking, strolling, etc) through the great outdoors.

Melanoma is a deadly form of skin cancer, which generally starts from a mole that is changing quite rapidly anywhere on the body. So, if you have a mole that's 'doing things' ie gettng biger, changing colour (especially black or mottled), thickening, ragged outlines etc., then go to the doctor.

It's one of the diseases that particularly affects people with an outdoor lifestyle: runners, walkers, swimmers, gardeners etc. It affected (in the UK) 1 in 1,500 in the 1930s: now it affects 1 in 50, and unless diagnosed early there is a very high death rate, up to 25%.
in case of emergency

Athletes spend a great deal of time outdoors -  whether training or racing. So common sense dictates that some form of ID should be in our back pack, bum bag or pocket. Ultra walkers may be out walking on trails or road on their own for many hours, so this is important advice.  If we have a mobile, we should be carrying this as part of our emergency kit.  We  have many contacts  stored in our phones If we had an accident  or taken ill,,,,  who would know who to and  who is the contact person in case of an emergency?

What to do:  
store the number of a contact person(s) who should be called during an emergency under the name 'ICE'.
In an emergency situation, emergency services and hospital staff would be able to quickly contact the right person by simply dialling the number you have stored as 'ICE'.  For more than one contact name simply enter ICE1, ICE2 and ICE3 etc.
Whether carrying a mobile or not - just take a slip of paper with you with your ICE information.

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