For many of us, one of life’s great joys was playing sports in our youth. A lot of you know I’m an avid cyclist and have been for some time now, but there is always the daunting possibility of an injury that can have ramifications decades later. You probably even know someone who played softball or football in high school or college who still has a bad back or knee from an injury that went without proper treatment. Our feet, ankles and knees are particularly susceptible to damage as they carry the weight of the body and act as pivot points when we change direction or are undergoing strenuous activity. Sprains, stress fractures and torn or stretched ligaments or tendons are all common causes of pain later in life.
Often considered a common and collateral injury of even mild activity, sprained ankles usually don’t get the attention they should. The ankle is surprisingly vulnerable. Few of us give much thought to stepping off a curb funny or experiencing pain when playing a sport like tennis. However, according to Dr. Hubbard-Turner of the University of North Carolina, student athletes with chronic ankle instability and sprains were significantly less mobile than their uninjured counterparts. What does this mean? We should get sprains checked out and treated appropriately as soon as possible to prevent an increase of immobility and painful arthritis as we age.
Stress Fracture Detractor
Stress fractures can range from a tiny crack in the bone to heavy bone bruising. Runners, tennis players and yes, even cyclists are prone to these fractures as our feet take a heavy beating during these activities. HealthPlus reports that almost 60% of athletes who have a stress fracture are likely to get another one later in life. Because fractures are not a full break, it can be tempting to push through the pain. Do not do this, because the fracture can worsen or turn into a full break if put under enough stress for a long enough time. Without proper treatment, stress fractures lead to chronic discomfort, limited mobility and more fractures down the line.
Your Achilles tendon is the band of tissue running from your heel up the back of your foot to your calf. Sports with highly repetitive actions like basketball and high jump force this tendon to work harder than it is often used to which can lead to tendonitis or ruptures. You’ll know if you had Achilles tendonitis, because the pain radiates down your calf and often causes pain in your heel or on the bottom of your foot. If left unchecked or prevented from heeling properly, you’ll notice the tendon thickening and hardening which reduces mobility and makes walking very painful.
There are many ways new and old sports injuries can be managed and, in many cases, successfully healed. Seeing a medical professional should be your first step in assessing the severity of your injury and what options are available. In some cases, simply resting and icing can suffice but with older injuries it may take a more hands-on approach. Remember pain is not normal, if you’re suffering seek medical attention so you can get on the road to recovery!