How to stay fit for the fray by Dr Ann Redgrave and Dr Keith Bush

Leading medical experts from The London Clinic and the GB Rowing Team provide advice on avoiding and treating sports injuries

 With under a year to go until London hosts the world’s largest sporting event, our medal hopefuls will be putting everything they’ve got into ensuring they’re in peak fitness. Dr Keith Bush from The London Clinic and Dr Ann Redgrave, the GB Rowing Team’s Chief Medical Officer, have teamed up to provide their expert and sought-after advice on how to avoid and treat sports injuries.

The London Clinic – one of the UK’s leading independent hospitals – has recently become an Associate of the GB Rowing Team, providing clinical and diagnostic support to the team over the next three years.

Dr Keith Bush, how important is it to diagnose and treat problems early?

It is very important to make an early diagnosis and to treat an injury as soon as possible. I would recommend that an expert opinion from a GP is sought within a few days for minor injuries and a visit to the local A & E department immediately, if the patient is in severe pain or has significant dysfunction.

What new breakthroughs have occurred recently in the area of sports medicine?

The ready access to affordable, high resolution ultrasonography, which has become available over the last five years, has greatly contributed to the early diagnosis, understanding and treatment of soft tissue injuries: ie. to the muscles, ligaments and tendons.

What does The London Clinic offer patients over and above other UK hospitals re. sports medicine

The London Clinic offers a multi-disciplinary approach to sports medicine. In addition to providing access to its team of experts – including orthopaedic surgeons, radiologists and physiotherapists, the Clinic also offers a comprehensive radiology department and a fully-equipped physiotherapy department, which includes a hydrotherapy pool.

Dr Ann Redgrave, what are the most common types of rowing injuries that you see regularly?

The most common injury among elite rowers is lumbar disc irritation – anything from a slightly swollen disc to a full prolapsed disc with nerve root compression. This is not surprising as rowing is a sport in which you load the back in a seated position whilst flexed – a position in which the lumbar spine is vulnerable to injury.

How important is ‘warming up’ prior to participating in any kind of sporting activity?

Warming up is very important as it prepares the body for the activity to come. In effect a warm up routine is like the prep you do for any task –you collect together the relevant equipment – warm elongated muscles, switch metabolism to ‘exercise mode’ thereby ensuring delivery of fuel to brain and muscles.

In your opinion, which sport is the most physically demanding?

I would have to say Rowing – as it’s a whole body sport and the training involved is definitely disproportionate to the race duration. Elite rowers train 3 times a day, 6 days a week for 48 weeks a year for a seven minute race!

When should someone seek medical advice for an injury?

I don’t think it’s normal to have pain if you are in regular training so I encourage all my athletes to seek medical advice early – even as early as “persistent stiffness” rather than pain.

As a general rule, if discomfort during training has not settled by the next day I would suggest seeking medical assessment.

Don’t ignore pain; it is not normal even during exercise.

Dr Keith Bush, what does The London Clinic offer patients over and above other UK hospitals re. sports medicine?

The London Clinic offers a multi-disciplinary approach to sports medicine. In addition to providing access to its team of experts – including orthopaedic surgeons, radiologists and physiotherapists, the Clinic also offers a comprehensive radiology department and a fully-equipped physiotherapy department, which includes a hydrotherapy pool.

The London Clinic offers world-class facilities, technology and medical expertise in all areas of sports medicine. Patients are guaranteed quick access to its team of highly skilled specialists for diagnosis and treatment for complex and repetitive sports injuries. Coupled with its high-level of personalised care, the Clinic is able to minimise the time injured sportspeople are out of training and help maximise success in their chosen discipline.

The GB Rowing Team and associate The London Clinic talk about the team’s preparation for major competitions over the coming year and staying injury-free

Athletes across the UK and around the globe are preparing for the world’s greatest sporting event next year and the biggest competition of their careers. The GB Rowing Team is already focused to meet the high expectations of the British public and will be taking on top international rowers this weekend at the Rowing World Championships in Slovenia, an event that is also the qualifying regatta for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. But with such intense pressure to guarantee they are at the peak of their physical fitness at this important time, how can they minimise their risk of injury and ensure they don’t miss crucial days in training?

Overall fitness plays a huge role in the success of any athlete, and adding to the GB Rowing Team’s existing fitness measures, they have recently formed an association with The London Clinic, a leading hospital on Harley Street, giving the team access to experts in sports medicine and state-of-the-art facilities and technology to help diagnose and manage sports injuries. This will ensure minimal injury time and subsequent time out of training, and thus help to maximise their continued international success in the sport.

But it’s not just elite athletes whose sporting endeavors are impacted by injury. According to new research* 86% of people have suffered an injury whilst exercising or participating in sport, with more than a third being prevented from returning to sports for at least three months due to their injury. When it comes to looking after sports injuries a worrying 57% said they will just rest the injured body part and hope it will recover over time. Whilst prevention is undoubtedly better than cure, a quick and accurate diagnosis, coupled with expert and timely treatment are still essential to reduce the risk of short, medium and long term repercussions or damage from any sports injury.

So how do top athletes stay fit and minimise the possibility of injury during such intense and rigorous training? In the following video, members of the GB Rowing Team and their expert medical support talk about how to avoid sports injuries and give advice on the importance of early diagnosis and other techniques to help stay injury-free to ensure the best possible performance.

 

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