We know your sports are very important to you, and that is why we strive to keep you active and on your feet. Injuries of the feet and ankles are fairly common in athletes.
Injuries from participating in sports include: heel pain, Achilles tendinitis, shin splints, torn ankle ligaments, torn ankle tendons, metatarsal fractures, and many others.
Heel pain from running and participating in sports can be very painful and debilitating. If you have pain in the bottom of your heel when you step out of bed in the morning and it improves with walking, it might be the type of heel pain called plantar fasciitis. Sometimes the pain returns after you have been sitting awhile and get up to walk again. Sometimes the pain is constant heel pain. Usually the heel pain from plantar fasciitis is constant once someone has had the heel pain for quite awhile. Here is the thing: plantar fasciitis is heel pain due to an overuse injury. It is commonly too much, too fast. In January, we see a lot of heel pain because people start off with their New Year’s resolutions to lose weight, and decide to run a marathon right then. They get so excited that they do too much all at once. Some people are concerned because they have been diagnosed with a heel spur, and want the heel spur removed. The heel spur is not the cause of the pain, and in 95% of heel pain cases, surgery is not needed. If you have heel pain, don’t wait to come in, be sure to be treated right away so we can get you back on your feet and back in the game.
Achilles tendinitis or tendon tears are another common injury in athletes. Pain from Achilles tendinitis or torn Achilles tendons occurs in the back of the heel or even up a little higher. This injury is a very serious injury, and you don’t want to wait to see if it gets better on its own. Inflamed or torn Achilles tendons can progressively worsen, and surgery may be required. That is why you want to get it checked out and treated early. We can treat your Achilles tendon injuries without surgery if you come in early. We love to get you back to your sports as soon as possible.
Shin splints are very common in runners, and occur especially when runners run long distances and up hills. Shin splints are characterized by sharp pain in the front of your leg. Shin splints are inflamed muscles that are pulling away from the shin bone and can be very painful. Sometimes shin splints can cause the shin bone to break. It is very important to come in and have your shin pain treated before it gets to the point of a stress fracture of the shin bone (tibia).
Torn ankle ligaments are common in athletes, especially those sports that involve jumping and twisting. If you sprain your ankle, the ligaments that stabilize the ankle are injured. If these ligaments are injured and not treated, the long-term result could be an unstable ankle. When athletes have unstable ankles, they are prone to frequent ankle sprains. It is important to come in and get treated for an ankle sprain.
Torn ankle tendons are also common in athletes. It is important to have your ankle injuries evaluated, including x-rays and MRIs to determine the extent of the injuries. Sometimes only immobilization is necessary, other times physical therapy is necessary. We do perform surgery on tendons that are significantly torn. Don't wait if you hear a pop or snap in your ankle as something might be broken or torn.
Metatarsal fractures, or other fractures in the feet and ankles occur from sports injuries. If you have pain, swelling, and bruising after a sporting event and are unable to walk without pain, have it evaluated quickly. The sooner you receive treatment, the sooner we can help resolve the problem and get you back to sports.
How to Prevent Injuries From Sports
Many athletes have had foot and ankle injuries while participating in sports. These are not always preventable, however there are some things an athlete can do to prevent injuries.
- Start slow and steady. It is important to go slow and increase your activities by about 10% per week. It is also important to only change one thing per week, such as incline, distance, or speed.
- Strength training. Once or twice per week, integrating a total body strength workout to balance your core workout can help reduce injuries.
- Proper shoegear. It is important to wear the appropriate shoes for the sport you are in. Wear soccer shoes for soccer, tennis shoes for tennis, basketball shoes for basketball, running shoes for running. It is also important to replace your shoes every 500 miles or every 6 months, whichever comes first. If you are running more than 3 days per week, you should be alternating the shoes you are running in.
- Proper socks. Athletes can develop blisters, callouses and athlete's foot. Certain types of socks can help reduce these, including wearing socks that wick away moisture, dry-weave, or cool-maxx.
- Water intake. It is very important to stay hydrated before, during and after playing sports. Our bodies require at least half of our body weight in ounces each day. Muscles use the water to help process lactic acid. Also, as a bonus, well-hydrated skin looks younger. Your body will thank you.
- Sleep. It is a myth that we don't need much sleep. You need 8 or more hours of sleep per night. Period. Participating in sports while fatigued can set you up for injuries. If you are tired, it is just fine to not participate in your sport, or skip a run for the day. Being tired isn't being lazy, and it is smart to avoid injuries.
- No pain, no gain. NO! You need to listen to your body. It is not smart to push through pain. Many times we see athletes who don't stop when they have foot or ankle pain. The problem doesn't go away, it gets worse, which means the treatment is more complicated and involved. If you are seen early on for foot or ankle pain, we should be able to get you back on your feet early.
- Massages are not merely a luxury. Massages can help tired muscles and increase circulation to your muscles, and break down scar tissue. Massages also can help identify injuries and help them heal early on.
If you have any foot or ankle sports injuries, call our office to be thoroughly evaluated. We want to get you back on your feet, back in your sports. Call our office today! Don't wait.