If you’re an athlete, you understand the kind of work and dedication it takes to keep fit and be competitive against the best in your sport. It’s not always easy, but there’s a definite sense of accomplishment when you’re able to overcome your own personal challenges and improve on your previous performances.
Because of this determination and work ethic, however, athletes can easily fall into complacency about their own fitness. They may spend less time warming up their muscles or performing simple strengthening movements. In the long run, this kind of neglect can lead to some of the most common sports injuries.
Lower body injuries are especially common, which is why I’ve chosen to focus on how to prevent those that athletes are most likely to come up against.
You may not think a foot injury would be too limiting, but those who have experienced them know all too well the importance of full foot function while engaging in a high level of fitness. A common injury, especially among runners, is plantar fasciitis where the tendons running through the arch of the foot become strained.
Recovery from this takes time, so pay special attention to your feet during warm up and cool down. Your best course of action to prevent this injury is to monitor the amount of running you do, stretching your Achilles well, and addressing issues specific to your feet such as flat feet or being on your feet too much.
Ankle injuries are one of the most common injuries of athletes across all sports. Your ankles play a major role in movement and absorbing impact, so if they aren’t properly strengthened, an injury may not be far behind. Ankle sprains and strains are often caused by a wrong step or landing.
The best prevention for this type of injury is to strengthen the surrounding ligaments with plyometric exercises. You should also have an awareness of how you are placing your feet and work to correct anything that could lead to a misstep.
Knee injuries come to us in many forms because they are a connecting piece between so many important muscles and ligaments including the hamstrings, quads, ACL, and IT band. Injury can come from overuse, hyperextension, or changing speed or direction too quickly.
Preventing knee injury has to start with basic strengthening exercises. You may also incorporate movements using resistance bands to help build muscle and fortify your knees.
Hip bursitis relates specifically to the lateral aspect of the hip. When the hip bursa becomes inflamed, its usual function of decreasing friction with the IT band can become quite painful from walking up stairs to lying on one side.
Strengthening exercises like lateral leg lifts and core strength exercises can help to prevent and recover from this injury. According to Dr. Jason G. Dalling from BHD Orthopedic Surgery, persistent symptoms may warrant a corticosteroid injection to alleviate symptoms in addition to guided physical therapy. You can visit bhdorthopedics.com for more information about preventing and treating this or other athletic injuries.
Lower body sports injuries can make working out, practicing, or going to games difficult. Stretching, strength training, and keeping your supporting muscles strong can help prevent injuries and keep you healthy. If you do endure one of these common lower body sports injuries, the sooner you great treatment the quicker you can return to your normal routine.