Simple Things YOU Can Do to Prevent Fall Sports Injuries
Seasonal changes can be an exciting time for different people in different ways. Some love the change in the weather. Some love the shift in produce and other treats that tend to become available. And many can’t wait to get into a fall sports season!
Whether your child is joining a school sport or you have ambitions for a fall pickup league, we are all for you having a great time and getting plenty of good exercise as well. But we also know that shifts in activity can pave the way for trouble, and fall sports injuries are something we tend to see as the latter months pass by.
While we are here to provide safe, speedy, and effective treatment for any foot or ankle sports injuries that may come your way, we’d always rather see our patients not have an injury trip up their ambitions in the first place.
There is, unfortunately, no way to reduce the risk of a sports injury to zero. Misfortunes can always happen when we’re active, after all. But it’s still smart to take simple steps to reduce your fall sports injury risk because that increases your chances of getting the most out of the season!
The First Step: Know Your Strengths and Weaknesses
Different activities place different demands on the feet and ankles, and each individual may have a different capability of handling those demands.
It’s a good idea to have a physical examination before shifting into new activities. Kids often get theirs through school, but it’s not a bad idea for you as an adult to have one, too.
We’re always happy to discuss your foot and ankle health with you and what preventative measures we might recommend based on your needs. A podiatric examination is highly recommended if you have suffered any foot or ankle trauma in the past, or have had any persistent forms of pain or discomfort. Even if your feet currently feel fine, however, an examination can still help you find and address potential issues (such as flat feet, high arches, tight calf muscles, etc.) that could start to cause trouble once activities have you moving a certain way more often.
Use the Right Equipment
Whatever the demands of a sport or activity may be, there is footwear that can provide the best support and protection for it – and you should be using it.
You don’t necessarily need the highest-end shoes, of course; just a pair that is made for your sport accommodates the needs of your feet (such as any potential gait abnormalities) and fits you properly.
It is easy to fall into the trap that regular “sneakers” can be enough for most activities – especially if you’re just picking them up on weekends. But that’s just not true. Your chances of ankle sprains, Achilles tendinitis, and other injuries are higher when your shoes don’t provide the specific support you need, no matter how often you are playing or working out.
But while we’re on the topic of frequency…
Gradually Adjust into New Activities
Our bodies are built to endure certain amounts of stress at a certain time. We build our strength and endurance through training and exercise, but can still overwhelm ourselves if we go too hard, too fast, or too much.
You should never go all out into any new activity, even if you consider yourself an overall active person. You may still be using your muscles, tendons, and other parts of yourself in ways they’re not used to yet, and you can still end up with a painful injury by overstraining them.
Start off at a relatively low pace with any new activity and build intensity over time – about 10% more each week in time, weight, or distance. If your child has joined a sports team, it may be worth speaking with a coach or trainer to see whether they have a similar approach to getting their teams ready for action.
And provide yourself enough time to rest and recover between activity sessions. Many sports injuries don’t happen immediately, but over time as the body is unable to recover from the paces it’s being put through. We see many of our sports injuries well into fall and not within the first weeks for this reason.
Warm-Up and Stretch
Before you even start any intense activity, it’s always a good idea to take a few moments to stretch. This helps your body better transition to sudden activity and can help avoid pain.
Many folks imagine warm-ups as nothing more than holding some stretches before you start, but you should be doing more movement than that. A good warm-up is dynamic in nature and can involve some light jogging, lunges, heel raises, and butt-kicks to prepare your lower body. The stretches should be saved more for a cool-down period after activity.
Get Going (and Stay Going) this Autumn
Fall sports are all about fun and fitness, and being mindful of how you prepare for and go about your workouts can help you enjoy them with much less risk of trouble.
We are always here to discuss your foot and ankle needs and how we can help you stay active. We can help you determine the best types of footwear to be using, as well as recommend specific conditioning routines and prescribe custom orthotics to provide you greater correctional support if needed.
Schedule an appointment at our Colorado Springs office by giving us a call or by filling out our online contact form.