When thinking about sports injuries, your mind may automatically go to the most acute, traumatic injuries. The freak accidents and wounds that alter seasons and careers are what fans remember: Joe Theimann’s infamous career-ending leg injury comes to mind.
While traumatic, or acute, injuries may be the most memorable, overuse injuries are far more common. Thankfully, they’re also easier to avoid. By following a simple set of rules and tips, you can prevent your leisure time spent on sports from turning into time spent with a doctor and physical therapist.
If you’ve already suffered a sports-related injury, don’t grit your teeth and bear it. Waiting out an injury often makes things worse. At New Canaan Podiatry, Jennifer Tauber, DPM, and the rest of our team are well-versed in sports injuries, which often occur around the ankles and feet. We help you get the treatment you need to make sure your career can continue for years to come.
Most injuries don’t occur in a vacuum. While some acute injuries are unavoidable — like landing on someone’s foot after a jump — most are a combination of bad technique, training errors, or pushing your body beyond it limits. This is especially true for injuries that involve muscles, tendons, and ligaments. The five most common injuries are:
- Achilles injuries
- Breaks and fractures
- Shin splints
At times, stretching may seem tedious. Why spend all of this time warming up and cooling down when you could spend that time out on the court or field? Despite the temptation to avoid it, stretching can be the key to preventing Achilles injuries, ankle sprains, and muscle strains.
The Achilles tendon sees a lot of action in sports that include a lot of running and jumping, like soccer, football, or basketball. Situated at the back of your ankle, it’s essential to a lot of basic movements. A good strength and flexibility regimen help keep your Achilles tendon healthy, preventing tendinitis and protecting against tears.
Calf stretches have been shown to help alleviate pain from shin splints, and you can prevent groin strains with proper stretching as well. Stretches focused on the feet and ankles help protect you against ankle sprains.
Stretch your arms, legs, and back before and after practice or a game to make sure you’re treating your body right. While stretching may not involve your bones, it can help prevent breaks and fractures.
Use proper equipment
While your tennis game or running career may never reach the point where you need a new racquet every set or new shoes for each run, proper equipment is key to avoiding injury. Running shoes are specifically designed to cushion your feet as you pound the pavement, and a properly strung racquet keeps the vibration from every hit to a minimum.
Your equipment doesn’t need to be top-of-the-line, but make sure your equipment is always functioning as designed.
Use proper technique
Muscle strains often occur not because of overuse, but due to misuse. When you use the wrong muscles to perform an action, you may pull your body in unnatural ways.
Proper technique is key when playing any sport. Work with a trainer or pro to make sure you’re doing things the right way. No sport should ever be painful to play — no matter what level you are. Spending a little bit of time on technique can go a long way.
Trust your body
No pain, no gain is true — up to a point. A little achiness after a hard practice or game is normal. Chronic pain or tenderness is not. Playing through the pain only make you more prone to serious injury. It’s time to come see Dr. Tauber when you experience pain, tenderness, difficulty putting weight on a foot, a limited range of motion, or enhanced bruising and redness.
For most athletes, a well-treated injury is just a blip on the radar. With good care, you can get back on your feet in no time. Dr. Tauber is ready to make sure your return to sports is healthy and successful. Call our New Canaan office or book an appointment online today.