Don’t Let Spring Sports Injuries Trip You Out of the Gate
With spring here, the desire to get out and get more active tends to bloom in many of us. And with working from home becoming more common, finding a reason to get out of the house and into the open air is more important than ever!
Of course, some of us may have spent the winter active on the slopes, and that’s great! However, spring often opens up different ways to get moving. Whether you are just revving up your workouts or switching from ski boots to soccer cleats (or baseball cleats, running shoes, etc.), it is always important to take measures to reduce your risk of sports injuries.
Of course, our focus here is on preventing foot and ankle injuries. These include #1 hits like ankle sprains, Achilles tendinitis, and stress fractures, but also everything else that can befall an athlete of any skill level. Fortunately, the same general tips apply relatively evenly to everyone. We’re all working with the same fundamental elements, after all!
Warm Up, Cool Down
Nobody ever gets “too good” to warm up and stretch before an activity. Even Usain Bolt, before blazing his way to an Olympic medal, would wake up, have a champion’s meal of Chicken McNuggets, and then stretch before running.
Stretching is how you prepare your body for an increase in activity. Our muscles and soft tissues operate best when they transition smoothly from a resting state to a more active one. Heading straight into activity while our bodies are still “cold” is a shock that can easily lead to injury.
Stretching—to our bodies—is like waking someone by gently shaking their shoulder as opposed to slapping them awake. A proper warmup should reach all the areas we intend to use, and do so dynamically. That means not just stretching while standing still, but employing some low-impact movement as well—such as light jogging and knee-ups. A cooldown can focus more on the static, stand-still sort of stretching.
People often require different focuses for warming up. We are happy to provide advice on a good routine to complement your activities and any foot or ankle needs you might have.
Gradually Build Yourself Up Over the Long Haul
If you were running through last year and then took a break for the winter, that absolutely does not mean you can pick up at the same level you left off!
Our bodies constantly adjust depending upon the stresses we place (or don’t place) upon them. When we force ourselves beyond what we are currently prepared to endure, an overuse injury can quickly follow. Many a case of Achilles tendinitis or plantar fasciitis (a cause of heel pain) have developed due to overzealousness.
Also, just because you have been highly active in one sport doesn’t necessarily mean you can immediately go all out in another. Different activities work our bodies in different ways. The forces placed on your feet and ankles in skiing are not the same as the impacts of running, for example. Applying too much of an unfamiliar force too quickly can mean pain.
How do you best keep your body in check?
When starting out (or restarting) an activity, respect your limits and start off at a reduced pace—something that won’t cause excess stress or discomfort. Then, increase your intensity by no more than 10 percent per week. This can be measured in distance, time, or weight—but don’t be afraid to dial back if that 10 percent feels like too much. It’s always better to build slowly than having to take yourself out of the activity for a few weeks due to injury.
Second, cross-train. Incorporating some time to work other areas of your body consistently not only improves your overall well-being, but can provide the areas you work hardest some needed rest.
Wear the Right Gear for the Job (and Make Sure It’s Up to Snuff)
The proper shoes make a world of difference. Whether they are built for running, soccer, tennis, or anything else, make sure they fit your activities.
We have already discussed how different activities place different demands on your feet and ankles. Sports shoes are designed with these particular stresses in mind, adding cushioning and stability where needed to help mitigate them.
If you have an underlying issue with your foot structure or gait, such as overpronation, there are varieties of shoes that can provide motion control. A trained shoe store associate can often help you find the best pair for your situation. If needed, we can also prescribe orthotics to provide more personalized relief and stability.
And if you currently have a pair of shoes but you’ve put them through their paces, it’s time to update. Worn-out shoes lose their protective properties. Even shoes you haven’t put many miles in but have been in your closet for a year can be degraded. At least check them out before using them for any hardcore activities.
Your Foot and Ankle Sports Injury Experts
We love seeing people get out and get active. We’ve even written a guide for people who want to start running!
What we don’t like to see is all that excitement and joy of activity going down the tubes when a sports injury arises. If you have hit such a problem, or are enduring persistent pain in your feet or ankles during activity, please don’t put off coming to see us!
Our Colorado Springs office can not only provide the treatment you need, but help you get back to action again as quickly and safely as possible. Believe us, we get that desire to move!
Schedule an appointment by calling us at (719) 266-5000. If you prefer to contact us electronically, just fill out the contact form on our website and a member of our staff will respond to you during standard office hours.