Baseball is upon us, local sports teams are finally practicing and playing outside, and runners are out in full force. There are a few things to be mindful of to prevent injury while engaging in high intensity sports. Whether it be a baseball player or track star- long jumper, new injuries tend to arise within the first few weeks into the season. These injuries are due to new forces upon lower extremities that the body is not used to. Common injuries from these new forces could include stress fracture, ankle sprain, ankle or foot buckling, or more serious injuries that could need surgery. You may be asking yourself: “How do I prepare for sports this year?” Let’s go over a few crucial tips to keep you moving and out of the orthopedic clinic.
It is always important to warm up your muscles before use. This will go a long way to preventing injury. Doing so provides oxygen to the local tissues. Stretch before your warm-ups and focus on calf muscles performing stretching several times a day. The more flexibility you have allows the leg and foot to tolerate more strenuous activity. A lack of flexibility leads to muscle strain or undue forces that can injure the foot and ankle. Keep in mind: you are a year older than last Spring! It takes longer to warm up with age and conditioning becomes more important each year.
A commonly asked question is “what shoes are best?”. The best answer is finding a shoe that properly fits you. Studies have shown more people buy too small a shoe. Improper sizing leads to pressure, blisters and awkward landings that can be hurtful overtime. Try buying a cleat with more room to fit an insert for added support. Runners should obtain a shoe that compliments your foot shape. For example, flat footed people should wear a shoe with more medial or inside support.
How should I treat a common sports injury immediately after it happens?
Orthopedic Foot and Ankle Specialist, Dr. Miller, suggests asking yourself first: “Can I continue playing or do I need to walk away?” An honest answer to this question allows your body to recover from injury instead of prolonging a recovery. In addition, some serious injuries can be subtle, so make sure to look for swelling and bruising. If you can’t run, try walking! Some injuries may bother you, but not enough to act immediately. In this case, give the injury one to two weeks of modified activity and allow your body to naturally heal. If time passes and you have not improved, you can’t walk or put weight on the foot, it is time for an orthopedic evaluation.
Is it risky to play through injury?
Almost always the answer to this question is yes! Pain is the body’s natural feedback loop to your brain saying stop. One of the most difficult aspects in helping people heal is balancing the return to activity with the time the body needs to heal. Going back too early commonly prolongs an injury or may lead to necessary intervention. It is super important to listen to your body and know when you are just doing too much.
How can I treat an injury on my own initially?
If you can walk with modest pain, then seeing if the injury improves in 1-2 weeks is warranted. During that time use the RICE method:
Rest, rest, rest.
ICE is a good pain reliever and found in studies to be a mild analgesic. Not only does this serve as pain relief, but it lowers inflammation as well.
Apply compression with Ace. Ace will help with swelling while providing stability.
Elevate. Elevate the injury to relieve swelling and limit bruising.
We’re Here for You
This Spring remember to treat your body right and prevent injury. Condition the body prior to activity by warming up and performing adequate stretching. Prevention of injury also comes with the proper equipment. Get fitted for the right cleats and shoes. Don’t play through an injury and remember allowing the body to recover after vigorous activity is important.
Suffering from a foot and ankle injury? Worried about a nagging pain prior to a race? If someone you know is needing foot and ankle care, Dr. Miller is Beacon Orthopedics foot and ankle specialist and is available at several locations around the Cincinnati area. Contact us today for more information! Click here to learn more and schedule an appointment with Dr. Miller for foot and ankle injuries.