Easy Ways to Prevent Sports Injuries
You train hard to do the sports and activities you love. Maybe you’re a student at Waukesha North, South, or West schools. Maybe you’re taking on your personal bests independently. Either way, you want your efforts to pay off!
That’s why a sports injury can be so devastating. There’s the pain and discomfort, sure; but there’s also the fear. You’re afraid that an injury will keep you from improving and doing your best, or that it will make you miss out on big games or goals.
Although you should never let these fears keep you from receiving the treatment you need for a sports injury, everyone would prefer that they never received a sports injury at all! (News flash, right?)
Taking steps to prevent a sports injury should be as much a part of your activities as your training itself. Nobody can ever guarantee that they will never be injured—just look how often it still happens in the pros—but making smart decisions can significantly reduce your risk of getting waylaid with a foot or ankle problem.
The best part about such steps is that they’re often simple. In fact, most of it is pure and simple common sense!
Use the Right Footwear for the Job
Our feet already endure a lot of stress just from our daily walking and routines. Add a bunch of training and running around, and we’re really asking for a lot more than we might think!
Different sports can place different demands on our feet and ankles. Using the right shoes for that sport will provide extra support to accommodate for these demands, reducing your risk of injury.
Let’s go with basketball shoes, for example. Basketball involves running up and down the court, but it can demand a lot of quick cuts and pivots as well. That makes ankle stability a high priority, but overall cushioning for foot impacts is needed as well.
Most basketball shoes not only keep these needs in mind, but adjust models specifically to the styles of players as well. Players who rely on speed may want a lower top and a little more flexibility to be less restricted. Power players, on the other hand, will want maximum stability and cushioning as they battle in the thick of it.
Knowing your style can be very important to choosing a helpful shoe, and so is knowing your foot itself! If your foot structure leads your foot to roll inward or focus extra pressure on a certain area of your foot, you will want to accommodate for that as well.
Some sports shoes already do this, and a trained associate will be happy to help you find the right pairs for you. In some cases, though, you may need additional support and correction in the form of custom-made orthotics.
Knowing the shape and status of your foot before buying shoes is a smart move, and we are happy to provide a free foot checkup to give you the info you need. Simply call us and inquire!
Warm Up and Cool Down
When your coach or trainer stresses the importance of warming up and cooling down around an active session, they’re not just rambling on!
And if they don’t stress that importance, they really should!
Our muscles, tendons, and other soft tissues can become injured if they are suddenly forced to engage in high activity from a resting state. Overuse injuries such as Achilles tendinitis and plantar fasciitis can happen this way.
Warming up helps adjust our bodies to the coming work, while cooling down helps them revert gently back to a more dormant state.
Warm-up and cooldown exercises for the feet and ankles can include calf raises, gentle lunges, and toe pull-backs. Not every exercise should be a stretch, however. Moving and jogging lightly for a while before or after starting is also highly helpful. We can help you determine the most effective exercise for your activity and individual needs.
Switch it Up!
Taking your body from 0-60 all at once is one way to give yourself an overuse injury, but so is doing the same thing over and over without giving your body the proper time to rest.
You will often see this in runners who develop heel pain or stress fractures because they spend every day pounding the pavement without giving themselves a rest day. Why does this happen?
When we exercise or otherwise put stress on our bodies, we are essentially breaking down our bones and muscles. They will rebuild and return even stronger, which is what working out is all about! However, they need time to do so. If we keep piling on that stress with no breaks, what eventually will break is us.
Schedule a rest day into your routines, and never give yourself two high-intensity days in a row. After your big day, either give yourself a full rest day or dial things down a good deal.
It will also pay off for your body by integrating some cross-training into your schedule. Concentrate on other areas of your body on some days to improve your overall fitness. For your feet, this might mean running one day, then doing some strength training, cycling, or swimming the next—whatever will place less impact focus on your feet and legs.
As you increase your intensity, remember that moderation is key here, too. Do not increase your intensity by any more than 10% per week. That could mean 10% more distance, 10% more weight, 10% more time—whatever it is depending on your workout.
Determining the ideal schedule for you may take some planning and a bit of testing to see what works best for your time and goals, but one thing is clear: always listen to your body. If your feet or ankles start hurting as the result of a change-up, stop, re-evaluate, and readjust. A slower route is always going to be better than one that runs into a roadblock.
And that means the same for the 10% rule discussed above, too! If 10% feels like too much, dial it back. Ten percent is only a guideline; your body knows best what it can handle right now.
Your Podiatrists for Sports Injury Treatment and Prevention
It always pays to reduce your risks, but you can still always take a bad hit or an unlucky fall.
If you do get pain in your foot or ankle that lasts for more than a couple days, or gets worse with activity, don’t wait—give us a call right away! It’s always best to get to the root of a problem now and begin treating it—getting you back to full action as soon as possible—than it is trying to ignore it and potentially making things worse.
And if you’re just getting ready to pursue a new fitness goal, there’s no better time than now to take advantage of our free checkup!
Call us at (262) 544-0700 to schedule an appointment. You can also reach us electronically via our online form.