Chiropractic and Sports Injuries

Sports Injuries

Exercise! We have all been told about how vital it is for health, yet we all know of friends or family who get sports injuries via a game of football, an intensive tennis match or a fall during skiing or snowboarding. The result is a sports injury that can often be persistent and painful. It is important to consider age, fitness and physical capabilities so that sports remain a fun and healthy activity. The majority of sports injuries occurs when a joint is overloaded with force beyond its capability, resulting in the muscles, tendons or ligaments to be overloaded and injured.

Shoulder Injuries


Shoulder bursitis usually arises from overloading the shoulder joint. This overload puts the bursa (the liquid bag with the lubrication fluid of the joint) under heavy pressure. This causes it to become irritated which leads to inflammation and causes a lot of shoulder pain, limiting the freedom of movement of the joint.


Frozen Shoulder

As the name implies, this is a condition in which the freedom of movement of the shoulder is very limited. For example, you may have a lot of trouble putting on a jacket. A frozen shoulder is caused by long-term overloading of the shoulder joint that irritates the joint. In response, the muscle groups around the shoulder tighten and their movement is limited. If the contraction of the muscles continues for too long, the muscle groups can shorten, so that normal movement of the shoulder is no longer possible.

Arm and Wrist Injuries

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Nerves that run through the wrist come under pressure due to overloading. This causes a pinching of the nerve, and the result is pain and/or pins and needles that can mainly be felt in the wrist, hand and fingers.


Tennis Elbow

Tennis elbow does not always have to do with tennis. Overloading of the muscle groups on the outside of the forearm is the cause. The arm pain is noticeably felt on the outside of the elbow and often radiates to the forearm.


Golfer's Elbow

As with the tennis elbow, the golfer's elbow is not always related to golf. Overloading of the muscle groups on the inside of the forearm is the cause. The pain is felt on the inside of the elbow and often radiates to the forearm.

Hip and Groin Injuries

Straining of the groin is one of the most common football injuries. The cause is an irritation of the area around the groin normally due to an abnormal overload of the hip joint. This causes the muscle groups around the hip and groin to contract and a restrict movement.

Knee Injuries

Meniscus and cruciate ligaments

These injuries are caused by sudden rotational movements of the lower leg in relation to the upper leg. The knee joint and the surrounding joints are "twisted" as it were.


Osgood Schlatter’s

The tendon attachment of the thigh muscles (which attaches below the kneecap) becomes irritated, which creates a constant pull on the shin bone below the knee resulting in pain.


Ankle Injuries

Ankle complaints are often caused by a sprain. The ligaments and tendons around the ankle are stretched and subsequently swell. The result is a restriction of movement of the ankle.

Common Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment of Sports Injuries

Causes of sports injuries include no or adequate (good) warm-up and cool-down periods, moving too fast with a sports program, or a fall or push during an activity.


Symptoms start with pain, which is usually felt around the joints and muscle groups that are injured. The symptoms can be acute in which the patient feels intense pain, or they can occur gradually, for example in a muscle strain in which the muscles are tense and cause muscle pain. Swelling around the joint often also occurs with joint injuries.


In terms of treatment, the objective is to restore function of the affected joints and muscle groups. This is primarily targeted at the joint with the fixation or restriction. Chiropractic manipulation (an adjustment) is made to the joint/s in question. Other treatment modalities in addition can also be used, specific to the chiropractor’s preference, training and experience. The patient may be given a specific rehabilitative exercise program to support this.


If you have acute pain, place a cold compress on the place where the pain or swelling occurs. You can do this several times (no longer than 20 minutes each time though) at intervals of around 2 hours.

Chiropractic and Sports Injuries

Chiropractic is a regulated and therefore recognised treatment that has been around for more than 100 years. The treatment focuses on disorders in the functioning of the musculoskeletal system and the relationship with the nervous system. A chiropractor checks the spine for restrictions. Through a thorough examination and targeted treatment, the chiropractor locates and corrects these restrictions. This restores the normal functioning of nerves and allows the body to heal itself.

Sports Injury and Pain Prevention

In order to prevent pain from injuries, always prepare well for the sport you are going to practice, including wearing the right clothes and most importantly, the right footwear. Include a good warm-up and cool-down program (even for experienced athletes) -- if you are unsure what this looks like, ask someone you know or do a search online. If you are new to a sport, it is a good idea to take lessons in the sport prior to practising. The reason behind this is if it is important to you, you want to master the technique of the sport and learn the right movements so that sport injuries can be prevented. Advancing your sport program too fast can cause injuries too, slowly building up the sporting program is better.

Common Questions about Sports Injuries

Which sports are more likely to cause injury and which are not?

In general, it can be said that all contact sports have a higher susceptibility to injury e.g. hockey, rugby, judo etc. Gymnastics and ballet can also be stressful for the joints. Swimming and cycling for example are good alternatives as the influence of gravity disappears here, so that the joints are less stressed.


Why do I have to come back even if I feel well? 

You can also ask the question: "Why do I have to go to the dentist for regular check-ups, even if I don't have a toothache?" By checking and optimising the spine and other joints, you will feel a lot more comfortable and fitter by comparison, and even prevent future complaints. Because these joints, especially that of your spine, are moving better there is less irritation to the nervous system therefore your quality of life improves – you may find that you sleep better, your blood pressure reduces, your strength increases, your balance is better, your digestion seems easier and many others.


Where can I find a good chiropractor to help prevent and treat injuries? 

If you suffer from the pain of a sports injury or would like to keep your body in top shape to prevent future injuries, please click here to book a new patient exam with one of our talented chiropractors!


And if you are curious about chiropractic and would like to learn more, please check out our other blog posts here!