Physical activity is an important part of health and fitness that many people, unfortunately, let fall by the wayside too often. Those who commit themselves, however, can achieve a plethora of rewards with regards to the way they feel and look. With any physical activity, however, there is going to be a certain degree of injury risk. This is especially true in the lower limbs, and a wise approach to any workout or training program is guarding yourself against these kinds of sports injuries.
Causes of Sports Injuries
Sports injuries to the feet and ankles can be divided into two categories: those originating from a sudden force or impact (acute injuries), and those developing on account of repetition or overuse.
An acute injury is often caused from a sudden hit, like a tackle or collision, or an excessive amount of force applied to an area that is only designed to move or stretch so far. Common acute injuries include:
- Ankle Sprains – A sprain occurs when the ligaments surrounding the ankle joint are overextended or torn. This can happen when the ankle is forced to rotate over its normal range of motion. When a muscle or tendon suffers a similar injury, it is referred to as a strain.
- Fractures – A break in a bone, often caused by a high impact. The toes and ankles often bear the brunt of fractures, but any bone can realistically suffer a break.
- Turf Toe – This is a sprain at the joint at the base of the big toe, often suffered when the toe is forcefully bent upward. It gets its name for the frequency it happens in field sports, especially when someone is wearing cleats and their foot gets planted in a fixed position against the ground.
An overuse injury happens when part of the body is exposed to repetitive forces or worked too hard or too quickly without proper conditioning beforehand. Examples of common overuse injuries include:
- Stress Fractures – Unlike a standard fracture, a stress fracture is a small crack along the surface of the bone. Continuing to apply force to the bone often results in pain and can make the cracks worse over time.
- Achilles Tendonitis – The tendons that run down the back of the lower leg can become inflamed after a sudden increase of repeated activity. This can create tiny tears in the tendon, which can become progressively worse and cause heel pain without treatment or recovery.
- Morton’s Neuroma - This is a thickening of nerve tissue at the ball of the foot that is common among runners. The repeated pounding of the feet against hard surfaces can cause irritation and compression of the nerve, leading to sensations of pain, tingling, or numbness.
- Black Toenail – Another condition often seen among runners, this is a collection of blood beneath a toenail often caused by the repetitive striking of the nail against the inside of a shoe. The discoloration can be accompanied by a throbbing pain, and sometimes the toenail will fall off.
Sports Injury Treatment and Prevention
Treatment for most sports injuries typically starts with a reduction in the amount of the injury-causing activity, or even a complete rest from it until the injury has had a chance to heal and fully recover. Physical therapy or rehabilitating exercises will also be recommended in many cases to rebuild and recondition the affected area and avoid re-injury. This is especially true in injuries such as ankle sprains, which can lead to long-term pain and instability if they do not heal properly.
The best treatment for sports injuries, however, is avoiding them as best one can in the first place. When starting a new activity, start slowly and gradually work yourself up over a course of weeks until you reach your desired level. Going too hard, too fast can place too much strain on your body before it has been properly conditioned, resulting in injury. Also, be sure to use the right equipment for the activity, and always listen to your body: if something starts to hurt, don’t “walk it off.” Stop and rest.
Professional Foot and Ankle Injury Treatment
Our hope is that you are able to use preventative measures to keep you safe from injury in the first place. Failing that, contact Richardson Podiatry Center and we will provide the effective care you need. We will start with conservative treatment options, but take comfort in the fact that we can also provide successful surgical procedures when needed. Call us today at (972) 690-5374 to connect with our Richardson, TX office.