An active lifestyle is naturally one that brings a host of benefits. Yet as any pro can tell you, increased physical activity and intensity can also open more potential for sports injuries.
The feet and ankles bear a great deal of force in many activities. They are frequent victims of painful conditions. A sudden impact, a forceful twist, or even too much strain over time can cause a sidelining injury.
We know how frustrating it can be for anyone to have a sports injury keep them from what they love. Our goal at Northwood Foot and Ankle Center is to get our patients back to performance as soon—and as safely!—as possible.
How Sports Injuries Happen
When people think of a “sports injury,” what often first comes to mind are the sudden, grimace-inducing problems that leave a player being carted off the field or court. There isn’t always a lot that can be done to prevent these, but they are not the only type of sports injury out there.
Injuries such as ankle sprains, fractures, turf toe, and tendon ruptures, are considered acute injuries. They happen due to a sudden impact or too much force being applied to the body in one moment.
Injuries that happen due to sustained, repetitive force being applied to the foot or ankle over time can become chronic if the body is not provided enough time to recover from them. Such injuries may include Achilles tendonitis, stress fractures, and plantar fasciitis.
Chronic sports injuries (also known as overuse injuries) tend to be much easier to avoid than a surprise sprain or fracture. It can be as simple as conditioning your body properly so it is ready to take on higher intensities or durations of activity. Cross-training and a steady, gradually increasing workout program that bumps intensity up by no more than 10% each week can both be helpful to prevent injuries.
Sometimes, other fundamental factors can increase someone’s risk of developing sports injuries.
For example, an abnormal gait caused by flat feet or high arches can create an imbalance in how weight is distributed across the foot. This can increase the amount of stress sustained by certain areas of the foot or ankle (and even higher up along the shin, knee and hip!), making them more prone to injury.
Treating Sports Injuries and Getting Back in the Game
When it comes to treating sports injuries, it is essential to make sure all recommendations for recovery are followed.
This can mean reducing or ceasing certain activities as you heal. Rest is one of the most important factors in making a full recovery. Trying to start activity back up too soon risks re-injury. In some cases, this can lead to long-term pain, weakness, or instability—especially in the ankles.
Resting does not always mean just lying on the couch and binging Netflix. In many cases, you can still engage in limited amounts of the activity you are missing, or switch to other, lower-impact activities instead. Biking and swimming are lower-impact activities that may be options for you.
Additional sports injury treatments may be used to help reduce pain and/or recondition the affected area. These might include exercises to help strengthen and stretch problematic areas.
Our doctors recommend patients perform a routine of single leg balance exercises for 6 weeks following an injury. It is also a useful regimen before starting sports to help strengthen ankles against sprains. We will be happy to show you how to perform this exercise properly.
Custom orthotics might also be part of a treatment plan. They not only are capable of providing additional cushioning, but also realignment and redistribution of weight to help avoid future injuries.
The specific plan of treatment for a sports injury will always depend on the damage involved and the individual needs of the patient. We will be sure to discuss all your options with you, as well as your fitness goals, to put you on the best plan to get you back on track with low risks.