From the Desk of Dr. Len
3 Common Sports-Fitness Injuries
Dr. Len Lopez – Tuesday, October 24, 2017
Three Common Sports Injuries that can Halt Your Workouts
It’s not uncommon to pull your hamstring when you run or sprint. What makes our hamstrings more susceptible to injury is all the sitting we do. By keeping your knees bent for an extended amount of time – you shorten and tighten your hamstrings. Then when you go run, sprint or race your kids, your hamstrings can’t lengthen as much as it used to – thus the pulled hamstring! Whether you sit at a desk, movie, plane ride or sleep in the fetal position – your knees are bent, which shortens your hamstrings.
One of the best things you can do to help stretch your hamstrings other than stretching is to walk backwards. Walking backwards stretches not only your hamstrings, but also your achilles tendons and hip flexors. Do that for 50-100 yards or even try going backward fast and see what kind of a quadricep pump you get.
The Torn Bicep
Bicep tears typically come about from pulling on something very heavy such as deadlifts, bicep curls or negative pull-ups. Remember the bicep is not a big muscle, so it is easier to tear. The difference between a muscle pull and a tear is that a tear may require surgical intervention.
I can’t say this enough times, but it’s important to warm up your muscles and joints before exerting yourself with heavier weights or exercises. With regards to negative pullups, which is a movement that is harder to warm up too. You wouldn’t start your first set of squats or bench press with ‘negatives’ so don’t make your first back workout, negative pull-ups.
A better suggestion for those who can’t do a set of pullups is to do inverted pull-ups. One of the reasons why I like inverted pullup is that it allows you to off-load some of your body weight so you can actually do an exercise that targets your back and biceps, without as much risk of injury. Think of them like ‘knee’ pushups — it allows you to work those neglected back and biceps. Also, it will help both men and women develop the strength to do a regular pull-up if that is their goal.
Low Back Pain
Sitting is again the primary culprit for unexplained low back pain. As stated earlier, sitting tightens your hamstrings, but it also shortens and tightens your hip flexors. Your hip flexors (psoas muscle), run along the front of your spine – not the back, and attaches to your lumbar discs and vertebras down into the inside of your upper thigh bone.
In case you didn’t know it, your hip flexors are the major muscles involved in exercise like leg raises, V-ups, ab-wheels, 6-inches off the ground, etc. So, you probably want to stay away from these exercise if you suspect your low back pain is caused by tight hip flexors.
Here’s a simple Do-It-Yourself Test you can do to see if your hip flexors are involved in your low back pain.
- Lay flat on the floor or bed with your legs straight for about a minute.
- Take a mental note of how your back feels with your legs straight
- Next, bend your knees and place your feet flat on the floor.
Did that make your back feel better, worse or no difference?
If bending your knees made your back feel better, it’s an obvious sign that your hip flexors are part of your back problem.
If it made it worse or not different, it’s not the hip flexors.
I know some of you can already tell me that you can’t lay flat with your legs straight. If your hip flexors are involved you absolutely don’t want to be doing some of those ab exercises mentioned earlier.
I hope that is helpful, there is more insight into some of what we spoke about today in The 10 Biggest Workout Mistakes.