First Light Healthcare


Cape Byron Medical Centre physiotherapists Danni Turner and Andrew Olson discuss sporting injuries: how to avoid them, and how to treat them.


What is a sports injury?

It’s an injury that occurs during sport or exercise. Generally, it refers to an injury to the musculoskeletal system.

What are the most common sporting injuries?

The most common sports injuries are ankle sprains, hamstring or groin strains, knee injuries and shin and elbow pain from overuse activities.

What causes injuries?

A series of factors can put you out of action. The most common include:

A rapid change in your activity level, which increases the load placed on your body. By gradually increasing your activity level you will significantly reduce the chance of injuring your body. So if you’ve spent summer lying in a hammock all day, probably best to start training slowly.
Not having your body prepared for the start of a sporting season or tournament.
This may include not being fit enough, not being strong enough or not doing enough plyometric preparation (rapid acceleration/deceleration, jumping, changing direction activities if this is what your chosen sport entails).
Not doing adequate sports specific preparation for your chosen activity.

The body is brilliant at adapting to change but you must give it time to do so. A physiotherapist like Andrew or myself is can create a pre-training program for you to help you avoid injury, (and of course we can assist with recovery).

What can I do to prevent sports injuries?

For team sports, it is essential to prepare your body for the season with sport specific training. This will not only reduce the chance of injury but also enhance performance.
This training enables you to run faster, jump higher and be more agile and balanced and have a significantly reduced risk of injury.
In fact, an injury prevention program has been shown to reduce injury risks by 50% and yet it only involves 15 to 20 minutes of warm up exercises before play.
Examples of these programs include FIFA 11+, FootyFirst program, Netball Australia’s KNEE program, Smartrugby.
Stretching using a foam roller, or trigger ball, is also important to release the tension we generate in muscles after activity.
By all means have a nice relaxing stretch after a session however do not perform static stretches prior to exercise as it increases your risk of injury and will not improve performance. A few dynamic stretches as part of a good quality warm up session are a good idea however.
It’s important to note that stretching after exercise will not decrease your DOMS (Delayed onset muscle soreness).
Rehydration with non-alcoholic fluid, ice/ice baths and compression garments can be used post-game to assist in recovery.
New research also shows that you may be better doing two one-hour strength sessions a week than static stretch sessions. This is something you can discuss with your physiotherapist.

If I have a niggling injury can I play, or must I sit it out?

Ignore niggles at your peril, especially if you are older and slower to heal, or if you sit at a desk for work which makes you more likely to injure yourself.
If the niggle persists, or gets worse, see your physiotherapist before continuing with sport or exercise. They will be able to assist to diagnose the injury and create a treatment program to get you back to pain free exercise as soon as possible.

How can I test and treat a sports injury?

A physiotherapist is specifically trained to diagnose and rehabilitate sporting injuries. They can also perform body screening assessments to assess your range of movement, stiffness and pain to see if you are in danger of having an injury in the future.
Massage, stretching, anti-inflammatory gels, rest and ice can help to reduce your pain. However, if the injury persists for longer than one week you should have it diagnosed by your physiotherapist and be given a specific exercise program to get you back to full health and back to your chosen activity as soon as possible.


Here, our physio Danni Turner takes the Byron Rugby boys through their paces in a Sports Injury Prevention training session.


By Cape Byron Medical Centre