Spring sports are here as the weather warms up. That also means the likelihood of spring sports injuries related to the ankle and foot is increasing. Fortunately, a little bit of prevention goes a long way.
Injuries can happen at any time. In fact, statistics show that 90 percent of student athletes have reported receiving an injury from a sporting activity. Beyond that, half of reported injuries in young athletes are due to overuse. Being aware of how common ankle and foot injuries occur means we can try to mitigate an injury.
Let’s break down some of the most common spring sports-related injuries that are likely to happen, the best ways to avoid them, and what to do if / when you get hurt.
Shin splints are a common injury for anyone with an active lifestyle, but especially for people who do a lot of running. It’s a bit of a catch-all term for front-side lower leg pain, though it refers to pain along the inner edge of a person’s shinbone.
Pain from shin splints is generally a result of overworking the muscles from strenuous activity. The connective tissue between your bone and muscle becomes inflamed and becomes painful.
Make sure to warm up and cool down with proper stretches to help avoid shin splints. Wearing shoes with good support is also important to prevent shin splints. Avoid ramping up your exercise regime too quickly or you run the risk of developing shin splints.
Plantar fasciitis is heel pain resulting from an inflammation of the tendons on the bottom of your feet that connect your toe to your heel. Pain from plantar fasciitis is normally felt early in the day and generally decreases as the day goes on.
This type of injury is common for runners, dancers, and volleyball players. Plantar fasciitis is painful and persistent, so the best treatment is to prevent it from happening in the first place. Proper running techniques, running on soft, flat surfaces, and warm up and cool down stretches are the best ways to prevent this injury.
ANKLE SPRAINS AND STRAINS
Sprains and strains are likely the most common type of injury a young athlete is likely to incur. Sprains happen when a ligament is stretched beyond its normal range — often from overuse or an accident — and partially or completely tears. The symptoms are different, but in general, there will be pain, a weakness of the muscle, or a muscle spasm.
Ankle sprains and strains can happen in about any sport or activity. Because a sprain is usually due to overuse, it’s imperative to have plenty of rest between games, matches, or prolonged physical activity. Beyond adequate resting, you can do specific stretches and strength training exercise to help prevent an injury to your ankle from a sprain.
Achilles tendonitis is an overuse of the tissues that connect your heel bone to your calf muscles on the back of your leg. This injury happens after repetitive and intense stress is placed on the Achilles tendon. Sufferers of Achilles tendonitis will feel a mild ache above the heel or at the back of the leg.
Damage to the tendon is common for runners but can occur in any sport with high intensity running. Cross-training, daily stretching, and strength training of the calf muscle can help prevent this injury. It’s also important to wear the right shoes when exercising, too. If your shoes are getting worn out, toss them and get a new pair with adequate support and cushioning.
Stress fractures are one of the more serious injuries on this list. If a stress fracture goes untreated, it can lead into a painful hairline fracture. Stress fractures can occur from overuse activities such as repeated jumping and long-distance running. They are common in the weight-bearing bones of the foot.
Runners are at the highest risk for developing stress fractures, but basketball players, tennis players, and dancers are also at risk. Often, stress fractures begin by feeling like a dull ache or a weakness in the foot and transition over time into a pain that’s sharp and deep in a particular part of the foot.
To prevent stress fractures, make sure you ease into any new exercise regimen. Make sure to cross-train and not overuse parts of your body with repetitive actions. Proper footwear can also make a big difference.
SPORTS INJURIES MEAN A CALL TO ABOITE PODIATRY
If your child experiences spring sports injuries, the physicians at Aboite Podiatry in Fort Wayne are ready to help them begin their healing journey. From sprains to stress fractures, there’s no foot or ankle issue too big.
Make an appointment to meet with one of our skilled podiatrists today by calling 260-436-3579.