Participating in sports has a long list of benefits, ranging from a strong heart and healthy weight to learned sportsmanship and teamwork, however, athletic activity also comes with an increased risk of getting hurt! Often, sports injuries are inevitable for active individuals – most athletes sustain an injury at least one time or another in life — but knowing symptoms, getting prompt treatment, and taking steps to lower your chances of injury, can all help you spend less time on the sidelines and more time in the game!
What to Do if a Sports Injury Happens to You
Rest: allowing your body the time it needs to heal is essential for complete recovery. Keep weight off the foot or switch to low-impact activities like swimming or yoga.
Ice: this reduces swelling and pain when your injury initially occurs.
Compression: wrapping your injury snugly, but not too tightly, helps decrease inflammation and provides slight support.
Elevation: Raising your injury above heart-level decreases swelling and pain.
Of course, it’s important to have sports injuries assessed and diagnosed correctly so that prompt and proper treatment can take place. After this initial first aid and care, come see us to ensure proper healing as well as decreased risk of future problems.
Types of Sports Injuries
An acute type of injury occurs due to sudden force, like getting blindsided by a tackle or landing improperly from a jump. Such impact can result in broken bones or torn ligaments and tendons. Sharp pain and a popping sound are often experienced, as well as an inability to bear weight. The roster of such injuries often includes:
- Broken ankle – bones in the ankle joint are severed
- Ankle sprain – ligaments are overstretched
- Ruptured Achilles – Achilles tendon completely torn
- LisFranc fracture – a mid-foot fracture
- Turf Toe – an overextended, sprained big toe
This type of injury is the result of repetitive stress, and in some cases, doing too much too soon. The constant pounding of running, for instance, can overstretch and strain soft tissues and even cause bones to crack. Increasing intensity and duration of your training can place too much stress on your muscles and bones as well. Symptoms come on gradually and may include soreness, pain, and swelling. A lineup of overuse injuries might look like this:
- Stress fractures – cracks in the bone
- Plantar fasciitis – heel pain from damaged tissues in your arch
- Shin splints – strained muscles along your shin bones
- Metatarsalgia – pinched nerves in the ball of the foot
- Black toenails – blood blister beneath your toenail
- Achilles tendinitis – irritation and swelling in the Achilles tendon
- Bursitis – inflamed bursa sac (your body’s cushion between bones)
- Sesamoiditis – tiny broken bones imbedded in tendons
Game Plan for Prevention
While you can’t always avoid a sports injury, there are things you can do to make yourself less susceptible. Shoes that fit well and are appropriate for the sport make a big difference! Orthotics can help provide additional support and cushion as well as address biomechanical abnormalities that could be making you prone to problems. Properly warming up prior to activity and gradually building upon your training will help prepare your body and protect it from injury, too. It’s also a good idea to cross-train so you can break up repetitive motions and stress. There are strengthening exercises as well that can help keep feet and ankles healthy, strong, and resistant to harm.
Blow the Whistle on Sports Injuries!
If you have a sports injury or would like to learn more about how to spot symptoms, treat or prevent them, call us so we can huddle up and discuss! Just dial (908) 687-5757 to reach our Roselle Park office, or (609) 924-8333 for our Princeton location. We’ll help you get off the bench and stay off so you can get back in the game!