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A sports injury can happen to anyone participating in sport, regardless of age, levels of fitness or ability. Common sports injuries include muscle and ligament sprains, muscular and joint injuries. More serious injuries include fractures, dislocations and head injuries – which must be treated medically. Different sports have injuries more commonly associated with them.

Early treatment for sports injuries is vital for a quick and full recovery.

Our aims

  • To assess the severity of the injury
  • Provision of appropriate treatment to reduce swelling, ease pain, reduce muscle tension and improve joint mobility.
  • Rehabilitation. Gentle exercises and self-help guidance may be given. We may apply tape for muscle and joint support.

Types of sports injury

Sports injuries can broadly be classified as either traumatic or over-use injury.

  • A traumatic or acute injury is a sudden injury following an event such as a fall from a bike, or twisting your ankle.
  • An over-use or chronic injury is an injury caused by longer term joint or muscular over-use.

Causes of sports injuries

Many factors can lead to a sports injury. Some can be prevented. During an osteopathic treatment a case history and structural assessment is made to identify areas of the body or body use that may lead to an injury, hence can be used in proactive injury prevention.

If you have had a recent sports injury, or if you feel you would benefit from an assessment for injury prevention, please use the contact form or call us on 0117 9146645.

Common causes

  • Reduced joint mobility
  • Structural imbalance
  • Falls / trips / accidents
  • Incorrect equipment
  • Poor fitness and technique
  • Inadequate warm-up / cool down

Symptoms of sports injuries

There are many possible symptoms depending on whether the injury is acute or chronic:

  • Swelling, heat, and tenderness in the injured joint
  • Pain during or after playing sport
  • Bruising
  • Joint stiffness or reduced mobility.

Common sports injuries

Heel pain / plantar fasciitis

This occurs when the thick band of connective tissue in the sole of the foot becomes damaged. It causes pain around the calcaneal (heel) bone and into the sole of the foot. It is common in runners and caused by repetitive heel strike and poorly-fitting footwear.

Tennis elbow

Pain and swelling on the outside of the elbow. It is caused by repetitive movements of the arm in sports such as tennis, swimming and golf.

Golfers elbow

Pain and swelling on the inside on the elbow, caused by repetitive movements of the arm in sports such as golf.


Inflammation of a tendon is caused by strain, tears or rubbing on the tendon. A common example is achilles tendonitis.

Shin pain / splints

Pain, aching, throbbing or tenderness along the shin bone. Commonly associated with running and often caused by over training, running on hard surfaces or wearing shoes that do not give enough support.

Lateral knee pain

Discomfort / pain beneath or to the side of the patella (knee cap), often with a grating sensation within the joint. It is caused by repeated impact on hard surfaces.


Bursae are fluid-filled sacs found over joints and between tendons and bones. The bursae in the knee, elbow, shoulder, hip and ankle are prone to inflammation, giving pain, tenderness and swelling in the local area. It is caused by friction within or over-use of the joint.

Cartilage damage

The cartilage found inside joints (articular cartilage) can become worn and torn, causing swelling, pain and stiffness. It is most common in the knee joint.

Shoulder rotator cuff injury

The rotator cuff muscles are a group of muscles that help control the movement of the shoulder. Acute injuries may cause a tear in these muscles, while chronic over-use can cause the muscles to become tight and sore.

Re-occurring muscle strains

Frequent muscle strains, often overlooked as a coincidence, can set back training regimes. They are often caused by underlying structural imbalances which can be addressed with osteopathic treatment.

Diagnosis of sports injuries

If you have had an acute injury, you will probably know the cause of the injury, while the cause of a chronic injury may not be so obvious. In both circumstances an osteopath will take a detailed case history and structural / postural examination to diagnose structural imbalances that may have led to the injury and to aid recovery.

An osteopathic treatment, that includes an assessment, will spot potential problems.

Sport injury prevention and rehabilitation

  • Begin slowly and build up over a period of time
  • Always warm up and down at the start and end exercise
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Exercise regularly and try to alternate the types of exercise that you are doing
  • If you have pain during activity, stop
  • Ensure you have the correct equipment and footwear.

Early injury management: R-I-C-E


Avoid excessive activity for the first 48-72 hours. Some gentle movement is necessary to prevent stiffness.


Apply ice to the area for 10 minutes, every hour if possible. Place the ice pack / bag of frozen peas in a damp towel before applying to the skin to prevent an ice burn.


Apply a compression bandage (i.e. tubigrip) to compress the injured area.


Elevate the injured area to reduce the swelling.

This should be done for the first 24-72 hours after the injury. If this doesn’t help, or you are concerned about your injury, you must seek medical advice.

REMEMBER: Early treatment for sports injuries is vital for a quick and full recovery.

Please get in touch if you have any questions or would like to arrange a treatment.

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