More than 100 physiotherapists from around the globe are a part of the ongoing Winter Olympics at Vancouver. As the athletes compete for the honours and medals, the physiotherapists are kept busy with the sporting injuries, which unfortunately form a part of any sporting event. Today, at Spotlight, we endeavour to enlist all the games and their most common sporting injuries.
1. Alpine or Cross country Skiing – Alpine Skiing is the sport of sliding down snow-covered hills on skis with fixed-heel bindings. Alpine skiing can be contrasted with nordic skiing – such as cross-country, ski jumping and Telemark – in which skiers use free-heel bindings. The most common injuries include those of knee, head and face, shoulder, foot and ankle, wrist and hand in the order of occurrence. Of these, sprains form the major segment of the injuries, with ACL injuries topping the list. In addition, fractures and lacerations are other common injuries in this exciting sport. Thus physiotherapists play a role from initial prevention of injuries using strengthening and postural techniques, providing braces and supports as required to post fracture rehabilitation.
2. Biathlon- This is a sport which combines cross country skiing with rifle shooting competition. It can be played as either an individual or relay event. Cross country skiing truly provides a full-body workout and the athletes must be in optimal condition. Additionally, they must stop and calm enough to be sharpshooters. In addition to the above mentioned skiing injuries, other common injuries include common running injuries like medial-tibial stress syndrome, also known as shin splints, and Achilles tendinitis. High speed collision injuries leading to whiplash are also not uncommon.
3. Bobsleigh, Luge or Skeleton - Bobsleigh, bobsled or bobsledge is a winter sport in which teams of two or four make timed runs down narrow, twisting, banked, iced tracks in a gravity-powered sled. In Vancouver Olympics, three types of events are being held, men and women two- person format and a men’s four person format. In Luge and skeleton, single events are also held.
In addition to the running injuries, falls off the sled and crashes are also very common, sometimes leading to serious brain injuries. Through specific focus on biomechanics, a physiotherapist can play a key role in preventing injuries.
4. Curling - Curling is a team Olympic sport in which stones are slid across a sheet of carefully prepared ice towards a target area. It is related to lawn bowling, boule and shuffleboard. Knee, back and shoulder pain are common symptoms experienced by curling participants, due to the sweeping motion, which involves repetitive upper limb movements, and the delivery position which requires sustained knee and low back flexion.
5. Figure skating- It is an Olympic sport in which individuals, pairs, or groups perform spins, jumps, footwork and other intricate and challenging moves on ice. involves balance, flexibility, strength (the male in a skating duo may have to lift and hold the female skater above his head), explosive power when launching into a jump, and the jarring impact of touchdown from a jump. All these can stress the muscles, bones, joints, and skin, and so can produce injuries. The most common injuries are to the knees during twisting movements, wrists taking the stress during a fall or hip and foot injuries. Physiotherapists can play a major role in prevention of such injuries through conditioning programs and balance training.
6. Ice Hockey - Ice hockey is a team sport played on ice, in which skaters use sticks to direct a puck into the opposing team's goal. Ice hockey is a full contact sport and carries a high risk of injury. Not only are the players moving at around 20–30 miles an hour (32 - 48 kilometers per hour), quite a bit of the game revolves around the physical contact between the players. Skate blades, hockey sticks, shoulders, hips, and hockey pucks all contribute. The number of injuries is quite high and includes lacerations, concussions, contusions, ligament tears, broken bones, hyper-extensions and muscle strains.
7. Ski Jumping - Ski jumping is a sport in which skiers go down a take-off ramp (the jump), attempting to fly as far as possible. In addition to the length that skiers jump, judges give points for style. Head and neck injuries along with lower limb fractures form the most common group of injuries for this group of sports- persons.
The adrenaline and excitement associated with these fast paced games is not without its inherent dangers and injuries. An expert physiotherapist with a team helps provide information about prevention of injuries, adequate pre and post game training and support and also enhances the recovery after an accident.