We always encourage our patients to stay active—there’s no substitute for the physical and mental health benefits of exercise and recreation. Unfortunately, vigorous activity can put your feet and ankles at risk of acute or chronic injury, especially if you aren’t exercising good preventative care (including wearing proper footwear, stretching and warming up, and giving your body time to adjust to new activities and challenges).
Of course we want you to avoid injury in the first place, but if you do befall a sports-related injury to your lower limbs, trust Family Foot and Ankle Center, Inc. to help you get back on the field. Here are a number of common foot-related sports injuries we see and treat frequently:
Achilles Tendon Problems
The Achilles tendon is the longest and strongest in your body, but repeated stresses can cause swelling, stiffness, and pain, while an acute injury can even cause a more substantial tear or rupture. Achilles problems are especially common among middle-aged recreational athletes—“weekend warriors”—but can affect all ages under the right circumstances. Achilles tendinitis, which refers to inflammation of the tendon (often where it attaches to the heel) is often treatable with rest, stretching, physical therapy, and potentially custom orthotics; a more serious injury, such as a rupture, may require immobilization or surgery.
Although not necessary considered a true “sports injury,” this common cause of heel pain can result when overuse (typically from running on hard surfaces) stretches and tears the thick band of tissue on the bottom of your feet. Conservative methods such as wearing better shoes, mixing up your workout routine, and physical therapy often prove effective in dealing with this painful condition.
Particularly associated with runners, shin splints can cause pain and discomfort on the inside of your lower legs and typically result when muscles and bones in the legs are overworked from sudden changes in physical activity—say, suddenly ramping up your mileage. Several weeks of rest, in combination with therapies including ice, compression, stretching, and, if necessary, custom orthotics, is typically the most effective strategy.
Sprains, Strains, and Fractures
These three related injuries are all common in the feet, ankles, and lower limbs, particularly in athletes who do lots of running, jumping, or cutting motions. Strains and sprains both refer to stretching or tearing of tissues: strains affecting muscles or tendons, and sprains affecting ligaments. Fractures, of course, are cracks and breaks in bone.
The best policy for these injuries is RICE therapy (rest, ice, compression, elevation) followed by a visit to your physician or podiatrist. Mild sprains and strains may require no further treatment; more severe sprains and strains or fractures may require immobilization or surgery to repair.
This overuse injury is common among those who play foot-striking sports such as tennis, track, gymnastics, and basketball. Like shin splints, stress fractures also frequently affect those who suddenly ramp up activity in a short period of time. Overworked muscles become too tired to properly absorb the shocks from foot strikes, so the energy is sent straight to the bones instead. Over time, tiny cracks in the bone develop. Unfortunately, the only real solution is lots and lots of rest—six weeks to two months away from the activity that caused the injury, to give the area enough time to fully heal.
Named for its prevalence among football players on artificial terrain, turf toe is simply a sprain of the ligaments in the big toe after it becomes hyperextended. Football players aren’t the only ones affected, though—sports that require lots of starting and stopping, twisting, and agility are all common culprits. As with other sprains, RICE therapy followed by a visit to your doctor as soon as possible are recommended.
Call the Experts
Suffering from one of these common foot-related sport injuries—or perhaps one that’s not so common? Give Family Foot and Ankle Center, Inc. a call at (513) 728-4800 or (859) 282-1572. We are Greater Cincinnati’s No. 1 resource when it comes to preventing, diagnosing, and treating acute or chronic foot and ankle sports injuries. Let us help you get back on your feet and back in the game.