Joint pain can be incredibly frustrating; especially when it keeps you sidelined from the activities you enjoy most. While there are many causes of joint pain, former sports injuries can compound your odds for joint inflammation, stiffness, discomfort, and pain. In fact, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons says you are seven times more likely to develop arthritic joint pain if you’ve suffered a joint injury. So, how do you make the most of your mobility while minimizing the affects of sports injuries?
Understand how each sport impacts your body
Sports that involve jumping, sudden stops and directional changes, or impact with another person report the greatest number of injuries. These sports include basketball, football, soccer, baseball, softball, gymnastics, and volleyball. During training or competitive play, it’s important to wear protective gear, listen to your body and maintain peak performance for sport-specific movements and demands. Avoid pushing through joint pain, as compromised joints have a greater risk of future injury.
Watch for injury-specific wear and tear
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates more than 54 million Americans suffer from arthritis — and they’re not just senior citizens. Sadly, most young athletes who undergo reconstruction surgery of the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) will develop disabling joint pain by 30 to 40 years of age. Evidence of this ACL arthritis is often visible in a patient’s X-ray within just 10 years of surgery.
Chances of arthritis are even greater in athletes who’ve suffered hip flexor injuries. One study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine showed professional soccer players with hip joint injuries were 10 times more likely to develop hip problems later in life, with some needing hip replacement surgery as young as in their 40s.
Maintain mobility and strength through physical therapy
Physical therapists offer treatments to improve flexibility, strength, coordination, and balance, such as:
- Massage or manipulation to “mobilize” a joint or muscle, restoring proper movement and function
- Hot and cold therapy to ease joint pain or stiffness
- Teaching proper posture and body mechanics for everyday tasks to alleviate pressure on joints
- At-home and in-office exercises for increasing range-of-motion and strengthening the joints’ muscles, the body’s core, and spine
- Fitted braces or splints to support the joints; or shoe inserts to relieve stress on the lower body
Integrate healthy living habits holistically
Sometimes we can get so focused on an area of pain, we neglect the holistic side of health. Continue embracing life’s joys and activities, as well as you can, while taking a well-rounded approach to joint pain relief.
Explore these lifestyle modifications that can reduce joint pain:
- Apply topical pain relief products, like NeoRelief for Pain, to target joint pain where it hurts the most. NeoRelief for Pain is a clear, non-staining gel made from active botanicals and minerals that soothe inflammation and reduce stiffness in joints and muscles, providing targeted, 97% natural joint pain relief.
- Maintain a healthy body weight to avoid excess strain on your joints.
- Stretch and adequately warm up your body with slow flow yoga or another low-impact activity before engaging in more active sports or joint-intensive workouts.
- Try low-impact exercises, like swimming or cycling.
- Up your vitamin C, which helps the body make collagen, an important protein in cartilage.
- Eat more anti-inflammatory foods, such as ginger, turmeric, leafy greens, nuts, and fish.
Healthy activity is essential toward keeping your body as strong as it can be. Unfortunately, sports injuries can happen, and when they do, you’ll know how to adjust for your best mobility possible.
American Physical Therapy Association
The New York Times
British Journal of Sports Medicine
Understanding pain and your body’s cues
What my father’s pain taught me