'Active recovery' is a term that every athlete needs to know and understand to remain optimal. Active recovery is a designated day or time in your training plan to engage in light activity to stimulate recovery processes without posing stress on overused body parts related to sport. This is a preferred method for athletes as opposed to zero activity in order to maintain performance levels. Active recovery can involve utilizing modalities and techniques to accelerate recovery. At RX Sports Recovery, we specialize in helping athletes apply the best modalities for individual needs to optimize performance. We have a number of adolescent athletes that engage in sport and can prevent or minimize most overuse injuries by adopting these active recovery tips:
1. Osgood-Schlatter Disease
It is not a disease, but an overuse injury. Osgood-Schlatters is one of the most common causes of knee pain in adolescents undergoing growth spurts. Adolescents most prone are 14-17 years old and participating in sports requiring jumping and running such as soccer and basketball. Symptoms of Osgood Schlatters typically consists of pain at the tibial tuberosity or the 'bone bump' at the top of the shin. This area is the attachment the patellar tendon which is a tendon of the quadriceps. Osgood-Schlatters occurs when the bones are growing too fast for the tendon which causes pain and inflammation in the tendon site. Speak to a physician to rule out other diagnosis such as patellar tendinitis (Jumper's Knee).
RX Sports Recovery Goal: Maintain Quad Flexibility
The ultimate goal while your adolescent is training through Osgood-Schlatter symptoms is to recover and stretch the quadriceps and increase blood flow to tibial tuberosity site to assist in healing. At RXSR, their first stop is contrast therapy in the hot and cold whirlpools to increase blood flow. Second stop is applying muscle-stim to the quadriceps (anterior thigh). Recovering this muscle after activity can reduce inflammation down-stream to the tibial tuberosity. If the quads become chronically tight, this can exacerbate symptoms. Lastly, all our myofascial tools such as the vibrating foam rollers, are a great habit to help keep the quads loose. If your adolescent is experiencing a flare-up of pain, cold tub submersion reduces this acute inflammation.
2. Osteochondritis Dissecans (OCD)
Osteochondritis Dissecans or OCD is becoming more common as an overuse injury in children and adolescents. This condition occurs when there is a lack of blood supply to bone in joints such has knee, elbow, or ankle. It is unknown why limited blood supply occurs, but physicians suspect from stressing repetitive movements in the joints. As activity persists, a lesion is formed on the bone. Young athletes that play 1-2 sports year-round are at greater risk. OCD is difficult to diagnosis but symptoms are pain and swelling in the joint during activity. Diagnosis can be made official by imaging such as x-ray or MRI.
RX Sports Recovery Goal: Increase Blood Flow
The common mechanism of OCD is limited blood flow. To help heal from OCD, increasing blood flow is the primary goal. The first stop for your adolescent is the hot and cold whirlpools for global increase in blood flow to the extremity that is affected. Second stop, NormaTec compression units. At RXSR, we have the units in legs, hips, and arm(s) to target all joints susceptible to OCD. This state-of-the-art compression unit increases blood flow to the body part that it is applied to. As these proper habits continue, metabolic substances to aid in healing are introduced to the site of OCD and accelerate remodeling of the bone and cartilage.
3. Sever's Disease
Sever's is also not a disease and otherwise known as calcaneal apophysitis. Sever's is the inflammation of the heel growth plate in your growing adolescent. Much like Osgood-Schlatters, the bone (calcaneal bone in this instance) is growing faster than the tendon, ligaments, or muscles. This can be very painful and bothersome especially in athletes that run or jump. Pain is located around the heel bone where the growth plate is located. Differential diagnosis of Sever's Disease is plantar fasciitis or achilles tendonitis and can be ruled out by a physician.
RX Sports Recovery Goal: Maintain Calf Flexibility (and calf activation if in a walking boot)
As the heel bone grows, the calf muscles, specifically the soleus and gastrocnemius and their tendon can become tight. It is beneficial to keep these muscles loose during the growing phase. The first stop for your adolescent is muscle-stim placed on the soleus and gastrocnemius muscles to increase blood flow and range of motion. In some cases, your child may be prescribed a walking boot to avoid further injury. An added benefit of the muscle-stim unit is to recruit motor units (units in the muscle to create muscle contraction) to the area and avoid atrophy (shrinking of the muscles) while immobilized in a boot. Second stop, one of our Recovery Specialists can assist your child in showing them how to perform self-myofascial release on their calf muscles with our various tools. In early phases of healing, range of motion is important. In later phases, take advantage of our many therapy tools to gain strength back in ankle stabilizers.
4. Stress Fractures
Stress fractures in the active population are small cracks in the bone that result from repetitive use. Common areas for stress fractures to arise are in weight-bearing bones such as the foot and lower leg. Stress fractures often result from increasing activity without adequate progression strategies. Symptoms include point pain over the site and pain tends to decrease with rest. This condition can be confirmed by an x-ray in most cases.
RX Sports Recovery Goal: Provide Recovery Education and Encourage Proper Recovery Habits
Stress fractures often result from increasing activity too quickly and too often without allowing adequate rest and recovery. This is because proper recovery promotes bone remodeling. Remodeling is a mechanism that allows our bones to adapt to load and is the process of bone breaking down and building back up. Our primary goal at RXSR is to help prevent stress fractures, especially in our runners. Speak with our specialists at RXSR and formulate a proper recovery plan with our modalities available, especially if you have a history of stress fractures. However, chronic, reoccurring stress fractures may be due to diet and nutrition.
5. Accessory Navicular Syndrome
Accessory Navicular Syndrome is a condition in which there is an extra 'bone' on the navicular bone in the foot. In some instances, people are born with this condition (congenital Accessory Navicular Syndrome) and goes unnoticed without any symptoms. Young athletes however, can develop the condition from overuse. Frequent jumping and running can stress the superficial and deep calf muscles especially if the athlete has a very high or low arch. The posterior tibialis (deep calf muscle) tendon travels near the navicular and if stressed overtime can cause pain and inflammation of the bone or tendon. Symptoms include pain the mid-foot arch with activity and a painful, visible bony prominence over the navicular bone. This condition can be confirmed by a physician.
RX Sports Recovery Goal: Reduce inflammation
This condition occurs when structures are inflamed. Regular anti-inflammatory habits are beneficial to treat the symptoms or prevent them from progressing. The first stop is the cold whirlpool to introduce vaso-constriction of vessels and reduce inflammatory responses. The next stop is muscle-stim on the deep calf muscles, especially after activity. The Compex muscle-stim units help aid in increasing blood flow, range of motion, and reduce pain to the posterior tibialis muscle and tendon which is directly involved in this syndrome. Lastly, take advantage of our therapy tools and learn proper stretching and strengthening techniques from our staff.