Soft tissue injuries to ‘soar’ as lockdown eases: Expert

Evelyn Lewin

11/06/2020 3:54:46 PM

But that does not mean injured patients have to stop exercising.

Football players on field
Football players are preparing to return to the field.

As lockdown restrictions ease around Australia, gyms, fitness studios, pools and recreational facilities are looking to reopen, while footballers are preparing to return to the field.
While this is a welcome move for many, exercise physiologist Andrew Daubney believes GPs can expect to see a resultant rise in injured patients.
‘Soft tissue injuries will definitely soar as people run back to the gym,’ he told newsGP.
This is likely to occur as a consequence of the rise in sedentary behaviour during lockdown.
‘People went into lockdown and they stopped doing pretty much all exercise,’ Mr Daubney said.
Further unhelpful behaviours compounded the problem.
‘All of us have also generally been sitting around at home in pretty poor postures, trying to work over laptops,’ he said.
This will likely lead to a rise in rotator cuff injuries.
While most people have been more sedentary during lockdown, Mr Daubney said there is a subset that embraced sports such as running and cycling, which itself has led to a rise in related injuries.
‘So we ended up seeing a lot of shin splints, knee pain and hip pain from people that decided to take up running and just went headstrong into it,’ he said.
Mr Daubney believes the opening of gyms and recommencement of sports training will lead to an even greater surge in injuries in coming months.
He said this is likely to occur because people will assume they can resume their normal training, despite a lack of recent workouts.
‘So we’re probably going to see some lower-back injuries or hip injuries, because people’s bodies have adapted to not going to the gym,’ he said.
Dr Joel Mason, a sports scientist based in Berlin, echoes Mr Daubney’s concerns. He decided to track the injury list as matches resumed on 16 May for Germany’s Bundesliga football competition after limited player preparation.
Bundesliga injuries went from a pre-lockdown average of 0.27 per game to 0.88 in the first round the competition resumed.
‘That’s a 226% increase,’ Dr Mason wrote on his blog.
‘While the sample sizes are obviously still limited and inconsistencies in injury reporting create an imperfect model, the evidence is quickly accumulating and the early indications from both training and matches continue to point in one direction — that post-lockdown injury rates are comfortably outside the boundaries of the typically observed injury rates.’
Dr Mason cited a further example of limited activity and its effect on subsequent injuries.
‘The most compelling evidence of this phenomenon comes courtesy of the 2011 NFL lockout,’ he said.
‘Following a league-wide pay dispute which prevented players from accessing team facilities for 136 days, pre-season training camps were cut from the typical 14 weeks to just 17 days.
‘In the first 12 days of training camp, 10 players ruptured their Achilles tendon and the number of injuries recorded within the first month of the return was more than double the average typically observed over an entire season.’
Andrew-Daubney-article.jpgExercise physiologist Mr Andrew Daubney says soft tissue injuries will ‘soar’ as people flock to gyms post-lockdown. 

While Mr Daubney expects to see a surge in soft tissue injuries in the coming weeks and months, he said such injuries should not prevent people from training altogether.
‘Research around injuries and acute injuries has changed a bit,’ he said.
In the past, patients with a strain or sprain were told to rest in order to aid healing.
‘Recent research is saying it’s still okay to exercise if you have an injury,’ he said.
However, such exercise, Mr Daubney said, should ideally be performed under the guidance of a physiotherapist or exercise physiologist.
He said the message to patients should be encouraging a return to exercise, but that it needs to be a gentle process. 
‘[They should not] expect to be able to do the same thing that they were doing three months ago,’ Mr Daubney said.
‘They need to understand that the body’s adapted to the “new normal” and to just ease themselves back into it.’
According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) almost 60,000 people were hospitalised for sports injuries in 2016–17, with soft tissue injuries accounting for 17% of admissions.
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