Andries Lodder biokineticist in Fourways
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Exploring the Relationship Between Muscular Imbalances and Their Role in Lower Back Pain

Posted on May 6th, 2024 by Andries Lodder

By Kiara Fitzhenry

Lower back pain often arises from various factors, and muscle imbalance can undoubtedly  be one of them. Muscular imbalances have been shown to play a significant role in the development and worsening of lower back pain. Differences in strength between muscles on opposite sides of the body may lead to poor posture, misalignment, tightness and overcompensation, reduced stability, and nerve impingement – all of which may lead to or exacerbate lower back pain.

LOWER CROSSED SYNDROME

Lower crossed syndrome is a common cause of lower back pain. This condition results due to muscle strength imbalances in the hip, lower back and pelvic regions. These muscular imbalances occur when certain muscles are constantly shortened or lengthened relative to others as a result of muscle weaknesses.

Lower crossed syndrome is characterized by a pattern of muscle weakness and tightness in the lower back and hip region. Typically, the hip flexors and lumbar (lower back) extensors are tight and overactive, whilst the glutes and abdominal muscles are weak and lengthened. The hamstring muscles are also typically tight. This imbalance involves a combination of tightness and weakness in key muscle groups, resulting in altered posture and movement patterns. These imbalances on the anterior (front) and posterior (back) sides of the body result in the forward tilting of the pelvis, flexed hips and increased arching of the lower back, which thus place extra strain onto the lower back.

A number of factors can contribute to the development of lower crossed syndrome and muscular imbalances, including:

  • Prolonged sitting or sedentary lifestyle
  • Poor posture habits
  • Muscular imbalances resulting from repetitive movements or activities
  • Lack of core and hip stability

TREATING LOWER CROSSED SYNDROME AND MUSCULAR IMBALANCES

Addressing lower crossed syndrome involves a multifaceted approach tailored to each individual’s needs. In order to correct muscular imbalances which may be causing lower back pain, it is important to first establish which muscles are too tight, and which muscles are in a lengthened state. A Biokineticist can help establish these weak areas by doing a comprehensive assessment. Targeted stretching of tight muscles, particularly the hip flexors, lower back extensors, and hamstrings, helps restore flexibility and reduce muscular tension. Whilst strengthening weak muscles, such as the core, glutes and hip stabilizers, will help maintain ideal posture and alignment.

Imbalances in muscle strength, endurance, and activation, particularly in the trunk and pelvic regions, can contribute to the development and persistence of low back pain. Addressing these imbalances through targeted exercises and interventions may help alleviate low back pain and improve overall musculoskeletal health.

If you require any advice on creating a personalized exercise program to address muscular imbalances and reduce lower back pain, please do not hesitate to contact us!

Understanding Spondylolisthesis: The Role of Exercise

Posted on May 6th, 2024 by Andries Lodder

by Jana van Jaarsveld

Spondylolisthesis is a spinal condition that involves instability of the spine characterized by the forward displacement of one vertebra over the vertebra beneath it. This displacement may put pressure on a nerve and can result in pain, stiffness, and reduced mobility, impacting the quality of life for those affected. While treatment options vary depending on the severity of the condition, exercise has emerged as a crucial component in managing spondylolisthesis and improving overall spinal health.

Difference between spondylolisthesis and spondylolysis?

They are both a cause of lower back pain. However, Spondylolysis is a stress fracture or a crack in one of the vertebrae’s. Generally seen in younger athletes. Where as spondylolisthesis is where a vertebrae slips out of place. Spondylosis may cause Spondylolisthesis, when the stress fracture cause slipping

Before delving into the impact of exercise, it’s essential to understand the different types of spondylolistheses:

  • Degenerative Spondylolisthesis is the most common form. It is a result of aging. Over time the discs lose water, and it becomes thin so it is easy for the discs to slip
  • Isthmic Spondylolisthesis, is generally a result of spondylolysis and caused by a defect n the pars interarticular is, often seen in athletes who engage in repetitive hyperextension activities.
  • Congenital Spondylolisthesis is birth relate. The baby’s spine doesn’t form the way it should.
  • Traumatic Spondylolisthesis: Caused by acute fractures or traumas to the spine.

Impact of Exercise:

Exercise plays a vital role in managing spondylolisthesis by strengthening muscles, improving flexibility, and stabilizing the spine. Here’s how exercise can benefit individuals with spondylolisthesis:

1. Strengthening the muscles surrounding the spine, particularly the abdominals and back muscles, helps provide support and stability to the spine, reducing the strain on the affected vertebrae.

2. Stretching exercises target tight muscles and ligaments, relieving tension in the spine and improving range of motion. Focus on stretches that target the hamstrings, hip flexors, and lower back.

3. Engaging in activities such as swimming, walking, or cycling promotes cardiovascular health without placing excessive stress on the spine. These activities also help maintain a healthy weight, which can reduce the burden on the spine.

4. Incorporating exercises and techniques to improve posture can alleviate pressure on the spine and prevent further progression of spondylolisthesis. Emphasize proper alignment during exercises and daily activities.

5. Balance and Stability Training: Exercises that challenge balance and stability, can enhance proprioception and coordination, reducing the risk of falls and injuries.

Exercise Consideration

While exercise can be beneficial in managing spondylolisthesis, it’s essential to approach it cautiously and under the guidance of a healthcare professional, such as a Biokineticist. They will oversee the following crucial steps:

  1. Initial Consultation: Before commencing any exercise regimen, a thorough assessment of your strength and capabilities will be conducted. This evaluation helps in determining the most suitable exercises tailored to your specific condition and limitations.
  2. Gradual Progression: Begin with gentle exercises and incrementally increase intensity and duration over time. It’s important to steer clear of activities that may exacerbate pain or discomfort.
  3. Proper Technique: Emphasis should be placed on maintaining proper form and technique during exercises to minimize the risk of injury. Exercises involving excessive twisting, bending, or impacting the spine should be avoided.
  4. Listen to Your Body: If you experience heightened pain or discomfort during exercise, cease immediately and seek guidance from your healthcare provider.

In conclusion, exercise plays a crucial role in managing spondylolisthesis by strengthening muscles, improving flexibility, and promoting overall spinal health. By incorporating appropriate exercises into your routine and following recommended guidelines, you can effectively manage spondylolisthesis and enhance your quality of life. Please feel free to contact us via our Social media and Website.

Compression Fractures

Posted on May 6th, 2024 by Andries Lodder

By: Gcina Gumede

Compression fractures refer to the collapse or compression of a vertebral body, which is a bone in the spine. They are typically found in the thoracic region of the spine which is the middle of the back. Compression fractures are commonly found in osteoporotic individuals which is a condition characterized by a decrease in bone density, making the bones more susceptible to fractures.

Although compression fractures are common in people with osteoporosis, compression fractures can also result from traumatic injuries, such as falls, accidents, or sports injuries. Aging also makes people susceptible to compression fractures. Women over the age of 50 years are the must susceptible to compression fractures. Research show that 1 in 4 women suffers from compression fractures. Bone density decreases after menopause primarily due to hormonal changes, specifically a decline in oestrogen levels. Oestrogen plays a crucial role in maintaining bone health, and its reduction significantly affects bone density. Here’s how this process occurs.

  • Less Oestrogen: Oestrogen helps maintain bone density. With its decrease, bone breakdown increases, leading to lower bone density.
  • Poor Calcium Absorption: Oestrogen helps absorb calcium, crucial for bone strength. With less oestrogen, calcium absorption drops, further weakening bones.
  • Vitamin D Changes: Vitamin D aids in calcium absorption. Menopause can affect its metabolism, reducing its effectiveness in maintaining bone health.
  • Imbalanced Bone Remodelling: Oestrogen normally balances the process of old bone being replaced with new bone. With its decline, more old bone is broken down than new bone is formed, leading to bone density loss.
  • Aging Factor: Menopause coincides with middle age when bones naturally weaken. Hormonal changes during menopause speed up this process.

Symptoms

  • Back pain: Usually relieved by laying down. It worsens when you are standing upright.
  • Decrease spinal mobility: You may struggle or unable to bend or twist your spine.
  • Stooped posture: Compression fractures may lead to an individual having a posture that is hunched over in order to put as little pressure on the vertebrae. 
  • Decreased height: This is caused because of the collapsed vertebrae.

Test/Diagnosis of Compression Fractures

A compression fracture examination typically involves a thorough physical assessment, including evaluation of the patient’s medical history, symptoms, and any recent trauma. Diagnostic imaging such as X-rays, CT scans, or MRI scans may be utilized to confirm the presence of a compression fracture, assess its severity, and identify any associated complications such as nerve compression or spinal instability. Neurological examination may also be conducted to assess for any neurological deficits or abnormalities.

Treatment options, including pain management, bracing, physical therapy, or surgical intervention, are then considered based on the findings of the examination and the individual patient’s needs and circumstances.

Exercise and Compression Fractures

Exercise can play a crucial role in the management and prevention of compression fractures, especially in osteoporotic individuals who are at increased risk. However, it’s essential to approach exercise with caution and under the guidance of a healthcare professional to prevent further injury. Low-impact exercises such as walking, swimming, or cycling can help improve bone density, strengthen muscles supporting the spine, and enhance overall balance and coordination, reducing the risk of falls and subsequent fractures.

Additionally, exercises focusing on core stability and posture can help alleviate strain on the spine and promote proper alignment, potentially reducing the likelihood of compression fractures. It’s important to avoid high-impact activities and movements that involve twisting or bending the spine excessively, as these can increase the risk of further injury. Always consult with a Biokineticist to develop a safe and appropriate exercise regimen tailored to individual needs and limitations.

Please feel free to contact us on social media or on our website.

Master Your Swing: The Vital Role of Core Strength and Mobility for Golfers

Posted on April 9th, 2024 by Andries Lodder

By Kiara Fitzhenry

Introduction:

It is essential to recognise the critical role that core strength and mobility play in optimising performance on the golf course. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a weekend warrior, investing in your core strength and mobility can make a significant difference in your game.

The Importance of Core Strength:

  • Spine Stabilization – this allows for greater power generation and control, allowing you to strike the ball better and more consistently by ensuring you maintain proper posture and alignment throughout your swing.
  • Improved Balance and Stability – this allows you to stay more stable throughout your swing for more accurate and consistent shots. Improved balance and stability reduces unwanted swaying or movement during the swing, resulting in more controlled shots.
  • Increased Transfer of Energy for the body to the club which may allow for greater clubhead speeds, helping you to hit the ball further.
  • Prevent Injuries – weakness or imbalances in the core muscles can lead to compensatory movements and excessive strain on other parts of the body.
  • Improved Power and Distance by increasing achievable clubhead speeds.
  • Endurance and Stamina – golf is a physically demanding sport that requires endurance and stamina, especially during long rounds or multiple days of play. A strong and resilient core helps maintain proper posture and stability throughout the round, reducing fatigue and allowing you to perform at your best from the first tee to the final hole

The Importance of Mobility:

  • Full Range of Motion – your range of motion directly influences your ability to achieve proper posture and movements required for an effective golf swing. A lack of mobility in key areas such as the hips, thoracic spine (upper back), and shoulders can restrict your range of motion and compromise your swing mechanics.
  • Promote a More Fluid and Efficient Swing – this will allow you to strike the ball more accurately, harder and more consistently – maximising your ability to play the game.
  • Improve Form and Technique – appropriate mobility allows you to achieve better technique and positions during your swing, leading to greater clubhead speeds and the ability to hit the ball further more consistently.
  • Prevent Injuries – a lack of mobility can restrict your ability to rotate the body. This can lead to compensatory movements which may result in overuse injuries or excessive lateral movement. This may reduce the consistency of your swing, and can result in reduced distance and accuracy.

How to Enhance Core Strength and Mobility:

  • Core Strengthening Exercises – Incorporate exercises that target the muscles of the core, including the abdominals, obliques, lower back, and hip flexors. Effective exercises include planks, Russian twists, bird-dogs, and medicine ball chops.
  • Flexibility and Mobility Work – Perform dynamic stretching and mobility drills to improve flexibility in the hips, thoracic spine (upper back), and shoulders. Focus on movements that mimic the golf swing to enhance range of motion and fluidity in your swing mechanics.
  • Balance and Stability Training – Incorporate balance exercises, such as single-leg stands on the Airex mat or bosu ball exercises, to improve proprioception and stability throughout the swing. Better balance translates to improved weight transfer and control during the swing sequence.
  • Functional Training – Engage in functional exercises that simulate the movements and demands of golf, such as rotational exercises with resistance bands or cable machines. These exercises help reinforce proper movement patterns and muscle activation specific to the golf swing.

Conclusion:

Whether you’re striving for longer drives, more consistent ball striking, or injury prevention, a strong core and appropriate mobility are key to achieving your goals and enjoying the game to its fullest. Consulting with a Biokineticist for a comprehensive assessment, as well as an individualised exercise program focused on the above-mentioned key areas can help take your game to the next level. Please do not hesitate to contact us, we would love to help you improve your golf swing.

Diverse Spectrum of Vascular Disease

Posted on March 18th, 2024 by Andries Lodder

By Kiara Fitzhenry  

Vascular disease, also known as vasculopathy, is an umbrella term for conditions that affect and damage your blood vessels. These blood vessels are important as they carry nutrient- and oxygen-rich blood to the body’s tissues, whilst removing metabolic waste. Vascular diseases include any condition that influences the circulatory system. Vascular diseases fall upon a diverse spectrum, impacting various systems within the body. They range from disorders of blood circulation, to conditions affecting the arteries, veins and lymph vessels, and can all vary in severity.

Types of vascular diseases:

  • Peripheral artery disease
  • Varicose veins 
  • Aneurysm
  • Carotid artery stenosis 
  • Raynaud syndrome 
  • Atherosclerosis
  • Blood clots 
  • Coronary artery disease 
  • Chronic venous insufficiency 

Peripheral artery disease (PAD)

Peripheral arteries refer to all arteries in your body, except for the heart (coronary arteries). Plaque from the deposition of cholesterol and fat may accumulate within peripheral arteries, causing them to narrow and harden. This is known as atherosclerosis, and it results in reduced blood flow through the arteries. PAD may result in symptoms such as pain, aching and cramping in the legs, lower limb discolouration, and numb or weak legs.

Varicose veins

Varicose veins are thin, purple veins that can be seen just below the skin. They occur as a result of damaged or weakened blood vessel valves and vein walls. Valves in blood vessels prevent backward flow however, when they are damaged, blood pools and flows in the wrong direction – leading to the appearance of varicose veins. 

Atherosclerosis

Atherosclerosis occurs due to the build-up of plaque – a substance composed of fat, cholesterol, and blood cells – within the blood vessels. This plaque build-up results in the narrowing of the arteries. Narrowed arteries results in reduced blood flow, and thus reduces the delivery of oxygen- and nutrient-rich blood to the tissues and organs. Risk factors for the development of atherosclerosis include a poor diet, sedentary behaviour and lack of exercise, as well as genetics. Atherosclerosis however can be prevented or delayed by engaging in regular exercise and by following a healthy diet and lifestyle.

Treatment

Vascular diseases fall upon a diverse spectrum and therefore treatment options depend on the specific condition. However, treatment may include medications, changes in one’s lifestyle, and in severe cases may include surgery. Following a regular exercise routine, as well as a healthy, nutrient-rich diet may reduce one’s vascular disease risk profile and prevent or delay the onset of vascular diseases. 

If you require any advice on creating a personalized exercise program to reduce your vascular disease risk profile, please do not hesitate to contact us!

The Pathway to Wellness: Impact of Exercise on Vascular Diseases

Posted on March 18th, 2024 by Andries Lodder

by Jana van Jaarsveld

Introduction

In the intricate landscape of vascular diseases, inflammation emerges as a key player, orchestrating the pathogenesis and progression of conditions like atherosclerosis, peripheral artery disease (PAD), and stroke. However, amidst the ominous shadow cast by inflammation, a beacon of hope shines bright: EXERCISE.

In this article, we explore the pivotal role of inflammation in vascular diseases and the transformative impact of exercise in mitigating its deleterious effects, offering a pathway to enhanced vascular health and overall well-being.

The Impact of Exercise on Inflammation and Vascular Health:

Exercise, long celebrated for its myriad health benefits, emerges as a potent antidote to inflammation in vascular diseases. Regular physical activity exerts anti-inflammatory effects, dampening the systemic inflammatory response and mitigating endothelial dysfunction. Through mechanisms involving the release of anti-inflammatory cytokines, modulation of immune cell activity, and enhancement of endothelial function, exercise serves as a powerful tool in combating the inflammatory cascade that underlies vascular pathology.
Studies have consistently demonstrated the beneficial effects of exercise in reducing markers of inflammation and improving vascular function in individuals with vascular diseases. Whether through aerobic exercise, resistance training, or a combination of both, physical activity confers protective effects against vascular inflammation, attenuating the risk of adverse cardiovascular events and enhancing overall vascular health.

Practical Implications and Recommendations:

Incorporating regular exercise into the management of vascular diseases holds immense therapeutic potential. From structured exercise programs supervised by healthcare professionals to lifestyle interventions promoting increased physical activity, there are myriad opportunities to harness the benefits of exercise in combating inflammation and enhancing vascular health.
For individuals with vascular diseases, personalized exercise prescriptions tailored to individual needs and capabilities offer a safe and effective means of leveraging exercise as a therapeutic intervention. Moreover, fostering a culture of physical activity within communities and healthcare settings can promote widespread adoption of exercise as a cornerstone of vascular disease management and prevention.

Conclusion:

In the intricate interplay between inflammation and vascular diseases, exercise emerges as a powerful ally, offering a pathway to wellness through its anti-inflammatory effects and beneficial impact on vascular health. By embracing the transformative potential of exercise, we can not only mitigate the deleterious effects of inflammation but also empower individuals to take control of their vascular health and embark on a journey towards enhanced well-being. Please feel free to contact us via our website or visit our social media platforms for more information.

Vascular health and Mental wellbeing

Posted on March 18th, 2024 by Andries Lodder

By: Gcina Gumede

Cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of death in many parts of the world affecting both the old and the young. Mental illness is also a major contributor to the burden of disease around the world. Research has made links on how vascular health could possibly affect mental wellbeing and visa verse.

Vascular health

Vascular health refers to the well-being of your blood vessels, including arteries, veins, and capillaries. Your blood vessels need to have the ability to constrict and dilate according to the changes in your body so that your blood pressure stays within the normal range of 120/80 mmHg.

Patients that suffer from mental diseases have shown a higher prevalence of developing cardiovascular diseases. And also the other way round, people suffering from cardiovascular diseases are more likely to develop a mental health illness. These two conditions are linked by pathophysiological factors that may possible induce one another.

The Link between Vascular system and mental health

Mental health disorders are associated with the dysfunction of the autonomic nervous system(ANS). The ANS is a division of the peripheral nervous system that controls involuntary bodily functions, such as heart rate, digestion, respiratory rate, pupillary response, and other automatic processes. It works to maintain internal homeostasis and regulate bodily functions without conscious effort.

A dysregulation in the ANS (especially where the Sympathetic nervous system is favoured) may lead to hypertension. This leaves the blood vessels exposed to increased pressure over time. The increased force of blood against the walls of the arteries can cause various structural and functional changes, leading to complications.

The brain relies on a well-functioning vascular system to receive a constant supply of oxygen and nutrients essential for optimal cognitive function. Disruption in blood flow happens via several mechanisms:

  • Stroke and Cognitive Impairment: Strokes, which result from disruptions in blood flow to the brain, can lead to various cognitive impairments depending on the affected brain regions. 
  • Microvascular Changes:. Chronic vascular issues may lead to microvascular changes, contributing to cognitive decline and an increased risk of conditions like vascular dementia.
  • Hypertension and Mental Health: Hypertension (high blood pressure) has been linked to an increased risk of cognitive decline and dementia. The exact mechanisms are not fully understood, but it is believed that hypertension may contribute to structural changes in the brain and impact neurotransmitter systems.
  • Inflammation and Oxidative Stress: Vascular dysfunction can contribute to inflammation and oxidative stress, processes that are implicated in various mental health conditions..
  • Endothelial Dysfunction: Endothelial cells line blood vessels and play a crucial role in regulating vascular health. Dysfunction of these cells, often seen in conditions like atherosclerosis, can negatively impact blood vessel function, contributing to impaired cerebral blood flow and increased risk of cognitive decline.

Exercise and vascular health

Regular exercise provides numerous benefits for vascular health. It promotes the dilation and flexibility of blood vessels, enhancing blood flow and reducing the risk of atherosclerosis. Exercise helps lower blood pressure, improve cholesterol levels, and maintain a healthy body weight, all of which contribute to optimal vascular function. 

Physical activity also stimulates the production of nitric oxide, a molecule that relaxes blood vessels, supports endothelial function, and reduces inflammation. Additionally, exercise enhances overall cardiovascular fitness, leading to improved heart function and efficiency. These combined effects contribute to a healthier vascular system, reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases and promoting overall well-being.

Please free to contact us if you have any questions and we will be more than happy to assist you.

Upper Body Injuries in Young Athletes

Posted on February 5th, 2024 by Andries Lodder

By Kiara Fitzhenry

As our young athletes dive headfirst into their respective sports, it’s important to acknowledge the unique challenges they face on their journey to athletic excellence. One aspect that often goes under the radar is the prevalence of upper body injuries. Understanding these injuries is the first step towards prevention and proper management. Young athletes are more prone to injuries for a number of reasons. This is mainly due to their physical and developmental characteristics. A few factors that contribute to their increased vulnerability to injuries include:

  1. Playful Nature: Children are naturally curious and enjoy exploring their surroundings. Their playful nature can sometimes lead to risky behaviours and situations, increasing the chances of accidents.
  2. Lack of Experience: Children are often less experienced and skilled in various physical activities in comparison to adults. Lack of experience can lead to poor judgment, improper technique, and a higher risk of accidents.
  3. Growth and Development: Children undergo rapid physical growth and development. Their bones, muscles, and ligaments are still developing and thus may be more vulnerable to injury due to uneven growth rates. 
  4. Incomplete Bone Development: Young athletes’ bones are not fully developed, and the growth plates at the ends of their long bones are more vulnerable to injury. Growth plate injuries can affect bone growth and development.
  5. Less Developed Muscular Support: Children may have less developed muscular strength and endurance compared to adults. Muscles play a crucial role in supporting joints and bones, and weaker muscles can contribute to an increased risk of injuries. It is therefore important to ensure your child is exposed to a wide variety of activities to reduce their risk of suffering from an overuse injury. 
  6. Motor Skills Development: Young athletes are still refining their motor skills and coordination. Their movements may be less controlled and precise, increasing the likelihood of accidents and injuries during physical activities and exercise.

ACUTE vs CHRONIC INJURIES

Young athletes may suffer from either sudden (acute) injuries, or overuse (chronic) injuries. Acute injuries occur from falls, twists, hits or collisions. Chronic injuries typically result from repetitive movements that are done excessively without adequate recovery time.

COMMON UPPER BODY INJURIES IN YOUNG ATHLETES

Common injuries seen in young athletes vary depending on the sport and the specific physical demands that are placed on the upper body. Despite this, there are a number of upper body injuries that are more common across different sports. These include:

  • Wrist and hand injuries – such as fractures and sprains resulting from falls or direct impact. Gymnasts and athletes involved in sports with high-impact landings are susceptible to wrist injuries.
  • Elbow injuries – such as Golfer’s and Tennis elbow, as well as Little League elbow – all resulting from excessive repetitive use and improper technique (especially when throwing). 
  • Shoulder injuries – including rotator cuff injuries and shoulder dislocations. These occur as a result of either direct impact, such as from a tackle, or from overuse.

INJURY PREVENTION

Preventing such injuries in young athletes involves a combination of proper athlete preparation, supervision, and education. Tips to reduce the likelihood of upper body injuries include:

  • Ensuring the young athlete engages in a proper warm-up and cool-down. The warm-up helps improve mobility, blood flow and range of motion. An adequate cool-down also aids in recovery, reducing the risk of suffering from an overuse injury.
  • Encourage the use of appropriate protective equipment and sports gear. 
  • Provide proper coaching and guidance to ensure the athletes use the correct technique and skill.
  • Strengthen appropriate musculature to provide adequate stability and promote suitable joint range of motion under the guidance of a Biokineticist.
  • Allow for adequate rest and recovery time.
  • Promote proper hydration and nutrition before, during and after activities.
  • Educate the young athlete on injury prevention and management.
  • Encourage age-appropriate activities and avoid early specialisation.
  • Addressing muscular imbalances through individually tailored Biokinetic sessions.

TREATMENT

The correct treatment and management of upper body injuries in young athletes is essential. It allows them to return to activities as soon as possible and to prevent any further complications later on. Treating injuries in young athletes requires a careful and comprehensive approach to ensure proper recovery.

Following the initial recovery period, appropriate exercises are encouraged to promote adequate range of motion and to re-establish strength. Encouraging our young athletes to communicate openly about any discomfort or pain is vital. We need to foster an environment that prioritises their well-being, ensuring that they can continue to follow their passions while staying injury-free.

CONCLUSION

Regular physical activity is crucial for children. It promotes overall physical health, strengthens muscles and bones, enhances cardiovascular fitness, and aids development. The growth in the use of digital devices – such as phones, tablets, and computers – however, has led to an increase in screen time for many children. Excessive screen time is often associated with sedentary activities. This contributes to a more inactive lifestyle and poor posture. These can lead to injuries and muscular imbalances. Reduced activity levels may contribute to poor strength and muscle tone, and thus children should not be stopped from participating in physical activity. 

A large number of injuries can be prevented by following the correct safety measures and remaining proactive. This helps allow your child to stay participating in physical activities. It is essential for young athletes to follow a structured rehabilitation plan after suffering from an injury. This is important to ensure proper recovery and to minimize the risk of long-term consequences. 

If you require any advice for injury prevention and rehabilitation for young athletes, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Common lower limb injuries in young athletes

Posted on February 5th, 2024 by Andries Lodder

BY: Gcina Gumede

Lower limb injuries in young athletes

Millions of kids across the globe are involved in youth sporting activities. It is a way for them to grow up fit and build friendships. Unfortunately, lower limb injuries are a common thing in sports and young athletes are prone to several sport related injuries.

Sport related injuries can halt a young athlete’s participation for week, months, or even up to a year depending on the severity of the injury. Although there is no full proof prevention method for injuries, understanding the needs of the sport that the young athletes are participating in can assist in preparing the athlete’s body for the sport.

Children are more prone to injuries because their bodies have not fully matured yet. They still have open growth plates (areas of weakness), their muscle, tendon, and ligaments are not as strong as those of adults which puts them at a higher risk of suffering from injury. Their coordination and balance are also still developing which can lead to instability, falls and other accidents. 

Lower limb injuries in young athletes can be divided into two categories: acute injuries and overuse injuries. The knee joints the most injured joint in the lower limb of young athletes.

Acute injuries

Acute injuries are ones that happen suddenly. It could be from landing awkwardly, colliding with another athlete or from a sudden movement. They might lead to a ligament sprain or tear, a muscle strain or tear, a concussion or even breaking of a bone depending on the level of impact. 

  • Sprains and Strains: Sprains involve the stretching or tearing of ligaments, which connect bones to each other. Strains involve the stretching or tearing of muscles or tendons, which connect muscles to bone
  • Fractures: Broken bones can occur due to impact, falls, or overuse. Growth plate fractures are of particular concern in youth athletes as they can affect bone development.
  • Meniscus Tears: Tears in the meniscus, the cartilage in the knee, can occur due to twisting or direct impact.
  • ACL Tears: Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) tears are more common in sports involving sudden stops, changes in direction, or jumping.
  • Meniscus Tears: Tears in the meniscus, the cartilage in the knee, can occur due to twisting or direct impact.

In an event of the unfortunate event of an acute injury, it is important to seek medical attention immediately in order to get a clear diagnosis.

Overuse injuries

Overuse injuries, also known as repetitive strain injuries or cumulative trauma disorders, occur when a particular part of the body is subjected to repetitive stress or strain without sufficient time for recovery. They build over time until they get to a point where they hinder an athletes performance. These injuries are common in various activities and can affect muscles, tendons, ligaments, and other soft tissues.

Some common lower limb injuries include:

  • Tendonitis: Inflammation of a tendon, which connects muscle to bone. Common types include Achilles tendonitis
  • Stress fracture: Microscopic cracks in bones caused by repetitive stress. These are common in runners and athletes involved in high-impact sports.
  • Shin splints: Often caused by overuse or excessive strain on the shinbone and the tissues attaching the shinbone to the muscles surrounding it.
  • Osgood Schlatter’s: Primarily affects adolescents, especially those who are physically active, particularly in sports that involve running and jumping. It typically occurs during a growth spurt, when the bones, muscles, and tendons are rapidly developing. For instance, the bones of the individual could be growing at a faster rate than that of the muscles; this could cause the individual to be in a constant state of pain during activity. It is important for the young athlete to develop their muscles to counteract this condition and manage their load.

If overuse injuries are suspected, it’s important to seek medical attention. Rest, ice, compression, and elevation (R.I.C.E.) can be initial measures to manage pain, but professional evaluation may be necessary for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.

To prevent injuries, youth athletes should incorporate the following strategies:

  • Proper Warm-Up and Cool Down: Always warm up before engaging in physical activity, and cool down afterward to help the muscles recover.
  • Gradual Progression: Increase the intensity, duration, or frequency of activities gradually to allow the body to adapt.
  • Cross-Training: Mix different types of exercises to reduce the strain on specific muscle groups and joints.
  • Proper Technique: Use proper form and technique during physical activities to reduce the risk of injury.
  • Rest and Recovery: Allow adequate time for rest and recovery between sessions. Listen to your body and address any signs of fatigue or discomfort promptly.
  • Strength Training: Include strength training exercises to improve the overall strength and stability of muscles and joints.

In summary, addressing lower limb injuries in young athletes requires a comprehensive approach focused on injury prevention, proper training, and early intervention. By fostering collaboration among coaches, parents, and healthcare professionals, we can mitigate the impact of these injuries. This will allow young athletes to pursue their sports with reduced risk and enhanced well-being.

Please free to contact if you have any question and we will be more than happy to assist you.

On Your Marks, Get Set, Go… Understanding and Preventing Traumatic and Non-Traumatic Injuries

Posted on January 25th, 2024 by Andries Lodder

by Jana van Jaarsveld

Introduction

In the world of youth sports, the exhilaration of competition often comes hand in hand with the risk of injuries. Sports injuries vary in how they happen, how they appear, and how they should be treated. Sport injury can be defined as “damage to the body’s tissues resulting from sports or exercise.” However, from traumatic incidents to non-traumatic strains, understanding the types of injuries young athletes face is crucial. This article explores the common occurrences of traumatic and non-traumatic injuries in young athletes and provides insights into effective prevention strategies.

Traumatic Injuries:

Several studies confirm that sprains are among the most common injuries in young athletes.

However, these injuries are often associated with traumatic mechanisms. Which are linked to joint stiffness and abnormal movement mechanics during the growth phase. Concerns have been raised about the quality of playing fields, inadequate protective equipment, and insufficient supervision in school sports. These factors may contribute to the traumatic nature of injuries in young athletes.


Can growth impact the occurrence of injuries?

The transient reduction in crucial motor performance during the peak growth phase could potentially contribute to a surge in traumatic injuries. Furthermore, a decline in bone mineral density prior to reaching peak height velocity (PHV) has been observed to be associated with an increased incidence of acute fracture episodes.

Non-Traumatic Injuries or overuse injuries:

Physical activity is essential for normal growth in children. However, when the intensity or volume of activity becomes excessive in a short period, it can lead to tissue breakdown and overuse injuries. This emphasize that younger generations are doing too intense, repetitive and specialized training for their body’s. Common overuse injuries can include stress fractures, tendonitis, bursitis, apophysitis, and osteochondral injuries of the joint surface.

Osgood-Schlatter disease is a prevalent source of knee pain among growing adolescents. It involves inflammation in the region just below the knee, where the patellar tendon connects to the shinbone (tibia).

This condition typically arises during growth spurts, a phase marked by rapid changes in bones, muscles, tendons, and other structures. However, while engaging in physical activities, increases the risk due to additional stress on bones and muscles.

Risk Factors for Young Athletes:

  • Sport specialization at a young age.
  • Imbalance in strength or joint range of motion.
  • Anatomic malalignment.
  • Improper footwear.
  • Pre-existing conditions.
  • Growth cartilage, which is less resistant to repetitive microtrauma.
  • Intense, repetitive training during periods of growth.

How to prevent overuse injuries?

Preventing overuse injuries in young athletes involves a combination of strategies addressing training, biomechanics, recovery, and overall health.  Some key preventative measures to consider is:

  • Encourage young athletes to participate in a variety of sports.
  • Emphasize a well-rounded training program that includes strength, flexibility, and aerobic conditioning.
  • Ensure adequate rest between training sessions and allow for proper recovery time.
  • Gradually increase the intensity, duration, and frequency of training.
  • Emphasize proper technique and biomechanics during training and sports activities.
  • Promote a healthy lifestyle, including proper nutrition and adequate hydration.
  • Tailor training programs to the age and developmental stage of the athlete.

Conclusion

By recognizing the distinct challenges posed by traumatic and non-traumatic injuries, and implementing proactive prevention strategies, we can create a safer environment for young athletes to thrive. Consult with a biokineticist to create a customised plan that suits your childs needs and goals. Please feel free to contact us on social media or on our website.

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