Musculoskeletal injuries are more common than one might think.
From sprains and strains to significant bruising, fractures to open wounds, we humans are good at hurting ourselves! Falls and trauma — including sporting mishaps and workplace accidents — shoulder the majority of the blame.
The study Prevalence Musculoskeletal Injuries reported that over 6.8 million injuries occurred in the USA in a single year. With this in mind, and Father’s Day fast approaching, we thought it was the perfect time to discuss five common injuries that happen to men; their symptoms, plus prevention and effective care.
Five common injuries that afflict adult males include plantar fasciitis, knee ligament strains, ankle sprains, lower back spine dysfunction and pulled hamstrings. Here’s what to look out for and how to boost recovery…
- 0.1 1. Plantar Fasciitis
- 0.2 2. Knee Ligament Strain
- 0.3 3. Ankle Sprain
- 0.4 4. Lower Back Spine Dysfunction
- 0.5 5. Hamstring Pull
- 0.6 What about care following an injury?
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1. Plantar Fasciitis
The plantar fascia runs from the heel bone to the toes, creating the strong arch required to support our weight and allow us the wonderful freedom of mobility. However, this structure can become painfully inflamed.
Injury can come from sports like dance and running, which place additional pressure through the plantar fascia. Being continually on your feet, wearing poor footwear, having flattened or high arches, carrying too much weight, and being middle-aged (or older) can all trigger plantar fasciitis.
Plantar fasciitis can vary in intensity. For some, it will be experienced as a dull ache near the front of the heel. For others, it will rage causing knife-like pain that makes it difficult to stand. The pain is usually worse first thing in the morning, after prolonged standing, or following vigorous activity.
Prevention & Care
As with preventing most injuries, a focus on fitness is key. Just like a cared for vehicle, a well-loved body will simply work better and fail less. Maintaining a healthy weight, supporting fallen arches, and conserving lower limb flexibility form the best path to prevention.
If plantar fasciitis strikes: Reduce pain-causing activities, switch from weight-bearing exercise to low impact options like swimming and cycling, roll the involved foot over a covered frozen water bottle (it’s a wonderful, easy form of ice massage), tape the foot during recovery, and consider tailored orthotics for fallen arches.
2. Knee Ligament Strain
The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), posterior cruciate ligament (PCL), medial collateral ligament (MCL) and lateral collateral ligament (LCL) give the knee stability, allowing sufficient motion while restricting excess movement. Any one of these can become injured.
The symptoms associated with a knee ligament strain will depend on the severity and the ligament involved. Generally, bruising, pain, stiffness, swelling, tenderness, and weakness may occur.
Prevention & Care
The greatest knee ligament injury risk accompanies sports that require dynamic loading of the knee. That is, forced pressure through the joint whilst moving. The easiest way to prevent this type of injury is to swap from activities like basketball, football and hockey to rowing, swimming or Pilates. Building up the muscles that support the knee, and sufficiently warming up before activity, help. Plyometric, balance, and strengthen training form an effective preventative combination for those who want a comprehensive approach.
If worst comes to worst and an injury occurs, the best treatment plan will depend on which ligament is involved and the extent of the damage. Appropriate use of a knee brace, rest, reducing inflammation through the application of ice and arnica, and early range of motion exercises are key.
3. Ankle Sprain
When the ankle moves past its intrinsic physiological capacity, the ligaments that support it can stretch or snap. This usually occurs when the joint is twisted in an awkward manner. According to the University of California San Francisco, this happens to 25,000 Americans every day.
As with other joint injuries, bruising, stiffness, swelling, tenderness, and, of course, pain, can result. If the damage is significant, the person may not be able to bear weight. As with all injuries, the symptomatic picture depends of the severity of the damage.
Prevention & Care
Preventing a sprained ankle doesn’t need to be hard. Prior to hitting the sports field, taping or bracing can go a long way. It works in two ways:
- Physically reducing twisting motion, and
- Increasing proprioceptive input (the information sent from the joint to the brain that tells it where it is in space)
Balance exercises can also help by increasing the proprioceptive input we just talked about.
These three versions are incrementally harder, so should be performed with accompanying improvement…
- Stand on one leg and hold
- Stand on one leg, bend the knee and ankle and hold
- Stand on one leg, bend the knee and ankle, close the eyes and hold
Following an ankle sprain, the initial treatment will follow the R.I.C.E. approach (that’s rest, ice, compression and elevation). Physical therapy and, eventually, balance exercises will aid recovery.
4. Lower Back Spine Dysfunction
A staggering 75.7 million adult Americans experience low back or neck pain each and every year. Sometimes it will present as a little irritation and, at other times, it can cause pain so crippling that significant time away from work and even normal life is needed. While disc herniations, fractures, and soft tissue tears can occur, muscle spasm and vertebral dysfunctions are more common.
Symptoms may include pain varying from mild to incapacitating, stiffness, muscle spasm, reduced range of motion, difficulty weight bearing, and inflammation.
Prevention & Care
As they say, the best form of defense is offense. Low back pain is more common in ‘weekend warriors’; those who do little to no activity during the week and then spring into weekend action like a bull at a gate. Obesity also ups the chance of back pain. Focusing, then, on maintaining fitness is key. By contrast, a job that involves heavy lifting, hard physical activity, and twisting actions elevates risk. Prevention here lies in good manual handling practices, asking for assistance, using appropriate lifting tools, and resting where needed.
5. Hamstring Pull
The hamstrings — or hammy’s — sit at the back of the thigh and run from the bottom to below the knee. They are formed by a powerful muscular trio: the biceps femoris, semimembranosus and semitendinosus. By enabling flexion and internal rotation of the knee plus hip extension, the hamstring enables us to walk, run and jump. This is why they are so commonly injured during sports activities.
What happens when a hammy is pulled? How can you tell if this is what has happened?
As noted in Hamstring Injuries: update article, the type of injury will be classified as a minor, moderate, or complete muscle tear. Each can come with a different set of symptoms. Minor pulls (stretched or a mild tear) can feel like an ache or tightness. Severe tears can cause serious pain and even stop a person from being able to weight bear. Sometimes people report sudden, strong pain and hear their muscle snap. You’re right… It’s not pleasant! Bruising and tenderness also commonly occur.
Prevention & Care
here are a range of ways to help prevent this injury and, as a pulled hamstring comes with a high chance of re-injury, prevention is always better than cure. Addressing hamstring tightness, avoiding muscle fatigue, ensuring adequate warm up prior to use, and professional care for past injuries are important.
What about care following an injury?
Initially, the accepted acute care plan involves rest, ice, compression, and elevation for between one to seven days. The aim is to control bleeding, ease pain and minimize inflammation. In the subacute phase, as inflammation wanes, concentric strength exercises (those that shorten the muscle) and gentle stretching may begin, both within comfort levels. Then, a program of progressive agility and trunk stabilization exercises provides the best chance of avoiding future re-injury.
Whether you want to gift your Dad relief from a prior injury for Father’s Day or maybe want relief yourself, these steps will help you to recover from these five common injuries. With the right products, appropriate treatment and a little time, recovery is possible.