Living an active lifestyle puts a lot of stress on our feet and ankles. Not only are they absorbing impacts as we run, but our muscles, joints, and other soft tissues face all sorts of demands as we turn, pivot, and jump. Sometimes all these forces become too much for your feet and ankles to handle, and that's when a sports injury can occur.
Regardless of how they happen, sports injuries can grind your game and goals to a temporary halt. The key to recovery is giving an injury the time and care it needs to heal and easing back into activity in ways that won't cause further and more debilitating damage. Here's what you need to know if a podiatric sports injury has you sitting on the sidelines.
Types of Sports Injuries
Generally speaking, sports injuries can be divided into two main types: acute injuries and overuse injuries.
- Acute injuries. These injuries are often caused by sudden impacts or high forces. Examples of acute sports injuries include ankle sprains, broken toes, and other fractures.
- Overuse injuries. These injuries are typically caused by exerting yourself too much, too quickly. Athletes who increase the intensities of their workouts without proper preparation may suffer overuse injuries, as can people who engage in repetitive activities for too long without providing the body enough time to recover and grow stronger.
Common Overuse Injuries
While acute injuries tend to be the ones that come to mind when most people think of sports injuries, overuse injuries are just as common. Here's a look at some of the overuse sports injuries we treat at our Alexandria podiatry practice:
- Plantar fasciitis. The strong band of tissue that runs beneath each foot becomes inflamed, leading to pain that's particularly noticeable when moving after extended periods of inactivity. The condition is common among runners, often due to the way their feet repetitively strike the ground.
- Stress fractures. While traditional fractures can fully break a bone, stress fractures appear as small cracks that run along the bone's surface. Repetitive stress is often to blame for this condition, which usually occurs in bones toward the front of the foot.
- Achilles tendinitis. Inflammation of the largest tendon in the body, which connects the heel bone to the calf muscle, Achilles tendinitis can cause pain and stiffness toward the back of the heel or leg in the morning and after physical activity.
- Neuroma. Swelling of tissue around a nerve, often in the ball of the foot, neuromas can cause symptoms like pain, tingling, and numbness and make it feel like there's a stone or other object caught in your shoe.
Treating a Sports Injury
Effective sports injury treatment begins with you. Whether you're feeling a sharp and severe pain after a tackle or an ache after you run, you should discontinue the activity and have the injury evaluated by a professional. Continuing your activities and pressing through the pain can have long-term consequences. Here's what you should do instead:
- Schedule an appointment with the Capital Podiatry Associates' sports injury specialists.
- Keep excess pressure off the affected foot or ankle as best you can. If you have a fracture or sprain, keep all weight off the area.
- Ice the area of injury for up to 20 minutes per hour to help reduce pain and swelling. However, never apply ice or a cold pack directly to the skin.
Professional Sports Injury Treatment
At Capital Podiatry Associates, we're committed to helping you resolve your injury as quickly as possible so you can get back in the game and back to doing what you love. We also help you find better, safer ways to work toward your fitness or athletic goals. Here's what you can expect when you visit our practice:
- We'll conduct a thorough examination to identify the cause of your pain as well as any contributing factors.
- If overuse is a factor, we'll help you create a better routine that includes stretches and warm-ups for your feet and ankles.
- When an abnormal foot shape or imbalance of forces across the feet is a contributing factor, we may recommend a change in footwear or the use of custom orthotics.
- For soft tissue injuries, we may recommend Multiwave Locked System (MLS) laser therapy. This state-of-the-art treatment has effectively reduced pain and accelerated healing in many cases.
Request an Appointment With One of Our Adept Sports Injury Experts
Putting off treatment is the worst thing you can do for a sports injury. The sooner you get the right care, the sooner you can get back to doing the activities you love. Complete our online contact form or call our office at (703) 560-3773 to schedule an appointment.