How to Handle Common Sports Injuries
When patients ask me for ideas on how to get fit, my best advice is to start exercising 30 minutes a day at a moderate intensity. But sometimes, people don’t follow a sound training plan or jump in a little bit too quickly, experiencing pain that prevents them from following through on their fitness goals.
There are several nagging injuries that can crop up when starting or intensifying an exercise routine, whether it is running or weight training.
Most people think injury makes their fitness goals impossible to reach, but with the right treatment, we can get you back on track in no time.
Here are some of the common pains and injuries patients may be dealing with and how to manage them responsibly.
Runner’s knee is a patella or knee cap tracking disorder. The knee cap does not glide properly over the femur and instead grinds, causing pain and inflammation. The knee even buckles at times, giving you the sensation of falling forward or being off balance.
How to fix it: Good thigh strength, especially in your inner thigh muscles, can help prevent runner’s knee. Additionally, it’s important to maintain flexibility in the hamstrings, lateral thigh and iliotibial band (IT band). Foam rolling over soft tissue can help keep those areas loose. Never foam roll over a bony prominence of the hip or knee. Rest, ice, and anti-inflammatories can be helpful, but check with your doctor.
Plantar fasciitis is a condition affecting the foot and heel. When you have plantar fasciitis, you may feel pain in the bottom of your foot, especially in the morning. The condition is caused by a tight plantar fascia cord, which can happen from repetitive stress or collapse of the foot arch.
How to fix it: To prevent plantar fasciitis, strengthen your arch with exercise, like picking up marbles with your toes. Stretch regularly, and sleep with a night splint to prevent the foot from flexing while you sleep.
Shin splints occur in the front of the shin or tibia and are very common for new runners. Shin splints are caused by repetitive stress to the area.
How to fix it: Prevention is the best cure. Start a new running routine slowly, wear supportive shoes, stretch and foam roll your calf muscles. Instead of running on pavement, where there isn’t much give, try to run or walk on soft surfaces like grass, dirt trails or the beach.
Overuse injuries are common amongst new and seasoned exercisers. These can occur anywhere in the body, and are a result of doing too much without appropriate recovery.
How to fix it: Be extremely regimented. I suggest that you ramp up your time and speed in a systematic fashion. For example, when starting a running program, slowly increase your time, then, run the same amount of time, but at a faster speed to increase performance. Increase stepwise from there. Additionally, a balanced diet, stretching routines, adequate sleep and stress management also help reduce overuse injuries.
When you work out, your body needs time to rebuild your tissue. Without recovery time, you will slowly break down, increasing your risk of injury. Be aware and listen to your body so that small injuries won’t derail your fitness goals.