Whether you’re a high school football player, weekend warrior, casual jogger, or professional athlete, few things are more devastating, or more frustrating, than a sports injury. Not only does it keep active individuals away from what they love, but it can lead to recurring, chronic pain if you try to rebound too quickly.
That’s why prevention is so important. Although no strategy will work 100% of the time, being smart can help you side-step a sports injury like a running back juking past a defender. Here are some valuable things to consider:
- Shoes. We know you love your comfy old running shoes, but after a few hundred miles those squashed midsoles probably aren’t providing the support or cushioning you need anymore. Likewise, if you’re going to be playing a specific sport more than once per week, you should make sure the shoes or cleats you wear were designed with that sport in mind.
- Cross training. It’s important to not only vary your activities, but also which areas of the body are affected by them. If your workout schedule goes from running to basketball to tennis and back again, your feet never get a break! Make sure some of your workouts are dedicated to low-impact exercises, like swimming or going for a bike ride.
- Conditioning. If you try to go straight from the couch to 5-set match or 10k run, you aren’t putting your body in a good position to handle the strain. If you’re looking to change sports or get active again, go slow at first, and only increase mileage or intensity gradually.
- Warming up and cooling down. Light stretching or slow jogging for a few minutes before vigorous exercise, followed by a quick cooldown when you’re finished, helps warm up your muscles and then flush toxins from them more efficiently.
- Terrain. Surface matters, especially for runners. If you find yourself in pain, try running on a softer surface (like grass or dirt), and avoid excessively hilly terrain or areas with rocks, loose gravel, or other uneven or unstable conditions.
- Orthotics. An unfortunate truth is that not all feet are equally good at distributing impact forces and providing adequate shock absorption. If you keep experiencing chronic pain despite making smart shoe and training choices, you may need a to provide the extra help you need.
Whenever you sustain a sports injury, resist the urge to simply shrug it off and play through the pain. Instead, see the sports injury experts at Advanced Foot & Ankle Specialists of Arizona. Our team of experienced professionals know why you play, and will help you make a complete recovery as quickly as possible. Our offices are conveniently located in Gilbert and Chandler, AZ; you can request an appointment online, or call as at (480) 963-9000 to schedule.