Do you remember those wonderful days of soccer when you limped off the field with that exhaustion in your muscles from putting in 100 %. Or was it more than that?
The last couple of weeks have seen some exciting developments from the Federal Government regarding relaxing some of the restrictions regarding soccer and other sporting activities as we emerge from the COVID-19 crisis.
Over recent weeks the MWFA has been working with Football NSW and other associations to ensure that clubs are ready to start training and playing games in line with Health and Public Safety orders.
There is no doubt we are moving towards a return to football, which is exciting. So let’s get you prepared for when the Season finally does kick off.
Muscle cramp or tear?
Do you remember sprinting along the sideline to get to that ball first but felt a spasm and gripping pain in your hammie? You fell to the ground moaning gripping your leg and screaming “I’ve got cramp!” Your teammates rushed over to help you stretch. But was it a cramp or a muscle tear? How could you tell and why did it matter?
Well Muscle pain can be caused by either muscle strains or cramps. These two conditions are managed differently so it IS very important to differentiate between them.
Muscle strains are tears in the muscle fibres and are classified according to the amount of muscle fibres involved.
Muscle strains are often felt as an acute, sharp pain and can have associated loss of strength in that muscle. There can be bruising or swelling noticeable immediately after the injury in the site of the muscle tear. Stretching or contracting the muscle usually aggravates the pain.
If it happens, don’t get your mate to stretch you strongly after these as you can tear the muscle further. Muscle strains can take days to weeks to settle depending on the severity of the strain.
A Grade One injury will cause you to feel a slight discomfort but you may still be able to continue to play but not at full function. Sometimes pain is only felt the next day. Only a few muscle fibres are involved and you still have full range of motion and muscle strength. This may take a few days to a couple of weeks to recover from.
A Grade Two injury will cause you to experience such severe pain that you have to come off the field. Returning to the field would be very unwise and you may be out for anything from a few weeks to several months while you regain full strength and function. More than half of the muscle fibres are torn and you will have some weakness. Rehab is necessary for this type of injury as the muscle needs to be able to contract quickly under load and have endurance before you try to play again. Otherwise you risk reinjuring which may be worse than the first time.
A Grade Three injury is a complete rupture and you will have severe weakness. This will take a much longer rehab and may even require surgical intervention.
Muscle cramps on the other hand are sudden, strong and involuntary muscle contractions that cause intense muscle pain. Muscle cramps can be caused by various reasons but the most common are overfatigue, dehydration or electrolyte imbalance. Stretching these does relieve the pain quickly and you should be able to continue to play. There is no loss of power.
A severe muscle cramp may cause some muscle damage so if pain lingers, get it checked by your physio.
Night cramps can also happen (commonly in the older, sedentary population) due to inflexible muscles or lack of physical activity. Getting adequate hydration and replenishing electrolytes with electrolyte drinks, regular exercise and flexibility programs can help reduce incidences of cramps.
If you are not sure if your muscle pain is coming from a strain or a cramp, or if you experience what you thought was a muscle cramp but the symptoms do not subside within a day or two, make sure you seek help from your Physiotherapist to get a proper diagnosis and appropriate treatment.
If you would like to see Denise Godfrey our BTH Physio, please call 0412 556 554 for an appointment at her home practice in Belrose. Denise has stringent infection control procedures. Access to her room is immediately from the front door and you will not come into contact with anyone except Denise. She can also offer late appointments for those still having to go to work outside of the area.
Denise’s city practice is now open again for some face to face and Telehealth (video consultations) if preferred. Please call 9264 7974 for an appointment.
With training just around the corner, take it slowly and work on your strength, form, stretching, coordination and skills. Be kind to your bodies. More to follow on prevention in my next blog.
Castlereagh Physiotherapy & Sports Injuries Clinic
Suite 502, 5th FloorSuite
160 Castlereagh Street
(02) 9264 7974
Belrose Family Physio
51 Hakea Avenue
0412 556 554