As winter approaches, summer sports such as tennis and cricket are now making way for rugby, netball, soccer and Aussie rules. As players change their training terrain, footwear and increase the volume and intensity of training, we see an increase in microtraumatic or gradual onset injuries. These include:
- Low back or Sacro-iliac joint pain
- Hip pain
- Knee pain / Patello-femoral joint pain
- Iliotibial Band Syndrome
- Shin pain / Compartment Syndrome
- Achilles tendon irritation
- Plantarfasciitis / Heel pain
With many of these sports involving impact activities such as running and jumping, it is important to consider the cause of the problem, as well as treating the symptoms.
Cause of Biomechanical Lower Limb Injuries
- Leg length difference
The lack of a ‘neutral’ foot position in mid stance (ie standing) results in abnormal positioning of the ankle joint, knee joint, hip joint, sacro-iliac joint and the spine.
As a result, abnormal loads are transferred through each of these areas, causing inflammatory irritation at the joints and soft tissue structure.
Treatment of Biomechanical Lower Limb Injuries
- Biomechanical Correction
An orthotic device will correct the abnormal foot position, control the angular osseous relationship between the rearfoot and the forefoot throughout the entire gait cycle, and allow only a normal range of pronation at the correct time. This ensures normal and balanced loading through the lower limb.
For patients with a leg length difference, a heel raise will be added to the orthotic to prevent the abnormal loading down the long and short limb.
A Physio Professionals Physiotherapist will perform a full biomechanical assessment, mould and fit the appropriate orthotic devices to the feet and provide advice regarding correct acclimatisation.
- Deep tissue massage
As a result of abnormal loading throughout the lower limb the soft tissue will adapt to become tight, inflamed and adhesive. A Physio Professionals Physiotherapist will perform hands-on deep tissue massage to break down and reabsorb adhesions, realign scar tissue, reduce muscle spasm and release muscle contracture. This will leave the muscles feeling looser and more flexible.
- Joint mobilisation or manipulation
The microtrauma occurring at joints due to abnormal loading will cause the joint to feel stiff and inflamed. Mobilisation or manipulation is performed by a Physio Professionals Physiotherapist to break down adhesions around a joint and increase joint range of movement
- Ice / heat therapy
Ice decreases blood flow to a joint or soft tissue structure and will decrease swelling, effusion or inflammation in the area. Heat will increase blood flow to the joint or soft tissue and bring new cells for healing and repair, making the area feel warmer and looser. A Physio Professionals Physiotherapist will advise regarding the correct times to use ice and heat for each individual injury.
- Activity modification and graduated rehabilitation programme
Training or daily activity may need to be adapted to allow the inflammation around the affected area to reduce. There may be alternative non-aggravating training programmes which will be provided by the Physio Professionals Physiotherapist to ensure patients give the affected area time to heal, before following a graduated rehabilitation programme back to normal training.
- Strength and Conditioning
A Physio Professionals Physiotherapist will be provide a strength and conditioning programme to address any muscle weakness or imbalance caused by the biomechanical anomaly. This will help in preventing future injuries.