You live in Orange County and you lead an active lifestyle. Maybe you’re a runner from San Juan Capistrano or enjoy working out at the local gym in San Clemente or Dana Point. You might be a professional or semi-professional athlete in Laguna Niguel or maybe you enjoy an occasional tennis match or round of golf on the weekend at one of our beautiful local courses. This describes many active and healthy people who live in South Orange County. It also describes many of my clients. While living an active lifestyle is good for your health, it also comes with inherent risks as well. No matter what your physical activity level, sports injuries come with the territory and can be life changing, especially if not treated and healed properly.
A properly implemented program of Neuromuscular Therapy and Sports Massage can provide injury rehabilitation, enhance athletic performance, decrease chances of getting injured, and even shorten recovery times after moderate or extreme athletic activity. Sports Massage is also recognized by many in the training industry as an accepted component to an overall regimen of training and competition. As a Neuromuscular Therapist with a specialty certification in Sports Massage I assist clients in cases of injury rehabilitation as well as prevention. I see clients with various types of sports injuries from severely pulled muscles and repetitive motion injuries to minor aches and pains. I help athletes to heal and get back on the field, court or track, as well as provide treatment and education to prevent injury from reoccurring. For severe injuries, I advise clients to see their primary care physician. I work in conjunction with treatment and advice of other medical professionals that may be involved in my clients’ injuries.
Sports Massage can also be utilized as a preventative measure against future injury for many athletic types and skill levels. It can increase sports performance and/or endurance by providing increased flexibility and preparing muscles and joints for upcoming events or activities. It can also prevent soreness and stiffness, and reduce body recovery time by increasing blood flow and removing toxins. Many injuries can often be avoided altogether by loosening and gently stretching muscles before strenuous physical activity.
While I have treated many types of injuries at Sagewood Wellness Center for athletes as well as the not-so-athletic, we’ll take a look at some of the most common and what you can do to help prevent them.
Back and Hip Pain
Back pain is common in such sports as football, baseball, soccer, golf, bicycling, running and weight lifting, just to name a few. Injuries to the back can be the result of improper conditioning and warm-up, repetitive motion, excessive or sudden lifting and twisting activities. Proper body mechanics and flexibility are essential for all these activities. To prevent injury, it is important to learn the proper technique in any sports activity. Improper mechanics may lead to increased loads on the muscles of the back, hips and legs, making them more susceptible to pain and injury. Sports Massage can help reduce the incidence of injuries before physical activity, and provide relief from soreness and stiffness afterward.
Another commonly injured area in athletes is the shoulder. There are specific muscles in the shoulder that are most active in swinging, lifting and throwing activities such as golf, tennis, football, baseball, martial arts and weightlifting, etc. These muscle groups can get injured and cause severe pain. A good warm-up routine, specific shoulder exercises for strength and conditioning, and a targeted Sports Massage program can help decrease injuries, increase flexibly, and improve range of motion.
Both golfers and tennis players, as well as those involved in other athletics, frequently deal with elbow injuries that involve repetitive motion of the wrists and arms. The two most common and painful injuries are Medial Epicondylitis (also known as Golfer’s or Thrower’s Elbow) and Lateral Epicondylitis (more commonly known as Tennis Elbow). Both typically occur as a result of poor swing mechanics or when tendons in the elbow are overworked, due to high frequency of play. Despite its name, many cases of Tennis Elbow occur in people who don’t play tennis and is a common condition experienced by plumbers, painters, carpenters and butchers as well as athletes of all types. Both of these conditions may increase with age and overuse. Good pre-activity stretching of the upper extremities and a sports Massage program before and/or after physical activity have been shown to decrease the incidence of these injuries and provide pain relief.
Common Sports Injuries
While these are some of the more common injuries I’ve treated in clients at Sagewood Wellness Center, there are many other conditions that I address which can cause pain and discomfort, as well as limit physical activity. These include but are not limited to:
Arm and Hand Pain
Leg and Foot Pain
General Aches and Pains
Tips to Prevent Sports Injury
- Prepare for exercise/ sports activities – Understanding what muscle groups you will be using in your activities is key. Conditioning and strengthening these muscle groups plays a vital role in preventing injury.
- Properly stretch muscles before physical activity – Muscles and joints need to warm up before being exerted, and proper stretching techniques should always be followed. I can provide appropriate stretching exercises to prepare for specific activities. Also be sure to allow for a “cooling down” period after all physical activity.
- Use an activity-appropriate athletic shoe – There are several brands and models of athletic shoes. Make sure you are using the type best suited for your feet, activity level, and your particular sport. Athletic shoes should also be replaced regularly and should be purchased from an appropriate athletic shoe store.
- Incorporate hard days and easy days into your training program – As discussed muscle fatigue and overtraining can be major factors in sports injuries. Be mindful of dramatic increases in activity levels and make sure to have “down time” or days off for muscles to replenish and heal. Athletes of all levels should be patient with their development, being careful not to push themselves too far or too fast. Working with a personal trainer can be beneficial depending on activity levels and sport or physical activity type.
- Sports Massage – The value of soft tissue massage and manipulation cannot be emphasized enough in preventing sports injury, especially for those with high activity levels or those who have not participated in quite awhile. Properly preparing your body often starts before you hit the field, gym or court. Sports Massage is also vital in healing and replenishing fatigued or strained muscles after physical activity.
Whatever your physical ability and activity level, always use proper judgement and common sense when involved in sports to get the most out of your experience. Don’t forget to fuel your body with whole foods that provide lots of energy, and drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. You only have one body, so treat it well and it will respond accordingly.
Have a balanced day! ~Maria
About The Author
Maria Martosis the Executive Director and Founder of the Cancer Support and Education Program, and has been owner of Sagewood Wellness Center for 20 years. As a Certified Neuromuscular Therapist, Maria specializes in the treatment of severe, chronic or minor pain, as well as injury rehabilitation and prevention. She holds a certification in Sports Massage providing her with expertise to evaluate and address athletic injuries and to help professional and recreational athletes improve their athletic performance. Maria is also Board Certified by the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork. She holds a Master of Science in Counseling Psychology, and offers Holistic Counseling, focusing on Integrative Mind-Body Therapy to help individuals uncover and remove unconscious blocks that limit them from living their best lives. She is also a Reiki Master and Teacher, and has worked in the health care field for over 25 years. Her passion and life’s calling is to help others not just survive, but thrive in the face of challenges.