Muscle injuries are all too common in gyms and on sports pitches across the planet. Every single athlete has had to deal with their fair share of these, and they almost always set an athlete back due to recovery time. Luckily, if personal trainers are able to identify muscle injuries in their early stages, they can prevent more serious harm from occurring. This article discusses the four types of muscular injuries athletes can suffer from:
Type of Muscle Injuries
These types of muscle injuries are usually caused by a single traumatic event. Common among sports players and body builders, acute muscle injuries are due to micro-trauma to the muscle, where there is an obvious link between the cause and the immediate symptoms.
Contrary to acute injuries, where the injury happens suddenly, overuse injuries occur over a long period of time. These are due to the overuse of the particular muscle or muscle group and have multiple possible causes which makes them more difficult to diagnose.
Similar to spraining a ligament, a muscle strain occurs when an athlete over-stretches a muscle and tears muscle fibres due to extensive mechanical stress. There are three grades of muscle strains:
This type of muscle strain affects only a few fibres in the muscle, and the pain is commonly only felt the following day. Strength and range of motion are not immediately affected.
Here up to half of the muscle’s fibres tear, causing immediate pain accompanied by swelling and minor decreases in muscular strength.
The most serious of muscle strains, Grade III involves the complete rupturing of the muscle, where either the tendon is severed from the muscle or the muscle itself is torn into two parts. Complete loss of function occurs immediately.
Muscle strains are caused by, among others:
- Inadequate warm-up
- Insufficient joint range of motion
- Excessive muscle tightness
- Inadequate Recovery
- Muscle imbalance
- Previous injury
- Bad technique
Otherwise known as muscular bruising, a muscle contusion involves the bruising of capillaries and often venules are damaged through some form of trauma (usually blunt). This allows blood to seep or haemorrhage into the surrounding tissue. Muscular bruising can occur across a wide range of fitness disciplines, but is most common in contact sports.
Muscle cramps are very common, even in elite athletes. The most common cramping muscles are the calves, thighs, and feet. Such cramping can be intensely painful, and can even occur while inactive. It may take up to a period of seven days for the muscle to return to a pain-free state, and common muscular cramping causes include low levels of sodium, potassium and magnesium in the body.
This type of muscle injury is most prevalent post-exercise, and is usually the number one thing personal training clients complain about. Muscle soreness after exercise is referred to as delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), and is characterised by tenderness and mild soreness. DOMS is usually experienced between 24 and 72 hours after exercise, and should disappear completely after 5 to 7 days.
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