Sports Rehab and Abdominal Strains are common to sports like baseball, football, basketball, soccer and gymnastics. This injury is fairly common in athletes because this group of muscles is constantly engaged.
Strong and healthy abdominal muscles only enhance an athlete’s performance. If injured the athlete will have great difficulty playing.
From an anatomy standpoint there are deep and superficial muscles in this group. The transverse abdominis is the deepest and works to help in forced breathing, coughing, laughing and sneezing. The internal and external obliques are along the sides of the trunk and work in trunk rotation and lateral flexion.
The most superficial is the rectus abdominis (six pack muscle) which runs up and down the abdomen and functions to flex the trunk. The majority of abdominal strains occur in the rectus. To review a strain is a sudden stretch of a muscle resulting in tears of fibers and can vary from mild, partial or complete ruptures. In this article i will discuss symptoms, causes and sports rehab for this injury.
A mild abdominal strain will result in localized pain, slight swelling, pain upon movement, coughing, laughing, deep breaths or sneezing. With the more severe strain or partial tear you will see marked abdominal pain, increased swelling, evidence of bruising and all motion is painful.
The complete rupture will show the same symptoms of a partial but the athlete can experience shock including nausea, vomiting, paleness, excessive perspiration, labored breathing and rapid heartbeat. With complete ruptures the athlete should seek emergency care.
Any time an athlete suddenly twists this injury can occur. For example if a football player suddenly changes his running or passing route and if a baseball player takes an aggressive swing at a ball. One of the major factors in the cause of this strain is inappropriate warm up prior to participation or excessive training.
Initially when the injury happens activity must be stopped and and ice applications should be started. Setting in motion the R.I.C.E. methods is extremely important so as to minimize the inflammation present. Ice applications should continue daily for a few days and the athlete must rest. The abdominal region is more difficult to rest than arms or legs because the area cannot be splinted. One way to protect and rest the region is to compress the area with ace bandage. The sports rehab specialist has options to move the healing process along. Treatment such as ultrasound, cold laser and soft tissue massage are often utilized to reduce the acute pain.
Once the acute pain has subsided the sports rehab will advance to mild stretching and strengthening, core stability exercises and guidelines for better posture. Exercises must proceed slowly and carefully as the abdominal area is vulnerable after being injured. Following the program of the sports rehab specialist is critical and if the athlete has any questions or doubts should always seek the advice of the professional.
Once the athlete is pain free, full mobility of trunk motions and good strength the usual progression is to sports specific exercises. These exercises are the skills needed by the athlete to return to form. When the athlete can perform these drills comfortably and with confidence returning to the field is just a step away. The final say to return is by the physician. The physician will know when your return will be on all “cylinders”.