This is a list of injuries we see most often in this office. As much as we enjoy our work and take pride in returning champions to their respective fields or arenas, it makes us even happier to share useful tips on how to avoid such injuries in the first place.
When Achilles’s mother asked the gods to make her son invincible, she was told to dip him in the River Styx. When she did, she held him by his heel and thus gave us the name of our first injury: Achilles tendonitis. You’ve heard the expression “Achilles heel” so you know that the tendon is at the back of the ankle, connecting the calf muscle to the heel bone. Overuse or abuse of this tendon will cause inflammation and pain. This is common among athletes who participate in sports that involve running and jumping. Long distance runners are highly susceptible. Symptoms include severe stiffness, especially in the morning. When pinched, the tendon will feel sore.
HOW TO AVOID: Avoid this injury by stretching and strengthening the calf muscles. Undue strain is placed on the Achilles tendon by tight and inflexible calf muscles. Be sure to purchase the proper shoes for your form of exercise.
There is a muscle in the upper thigh called the abductor muscle, which serves to pull the legs together. The strain or rupture of this muscle is called groin strain. This tends to be the result of sudden changes in direction while running. Athletes with this injury will experience sharp pain, swelling and even bruising on the inner thigh.
HOW TO AVOID: Do NOT play through a groin strain. This will worsen the injury and lead to a long-term lay-off. Stretching beforehand is always the best way to prevent a muscle pull like this one. Exercise should involve a proper warm-up, with a gradual increase in the intensity of the activity. Focus especially on the muscles of the inner thigh.
Slipped discs, back spasms and sciatica are all forms of lower back pain. In sports, the cause is still improper stretching. Are you getting the hint? Pain ranges from minor to devastating. You can identify sciatica by a pain that shoots down the leg from the lower back.
HOW TO AVOID: Lower-back injuries can be tough to avoid. Many occur as the result of bad timing. Remembering to warm up properly helps. If you are a runner and have a difference in leg length, you should look into orthotic inserts for your running shoes.
Tennis elbow is caused by sports involving repetitive arm motions; in other words, tennis. You can include golf on that list as well. That repetitive arm motion causes tendons in the elbow to become inflamed. From there on in, gripping or turning items will result in tenderness and pain.
HOW TO AVOID: Golfers and tennis players should be strengthening their forearms with wrist curls, reverse wrist curls and squeezing a rubber ball. Serious athletes will wear an elbow brace and have their tennis racket or golf clubs assessed by a professional.
One false move and the ligaments in your ankle can become over-stretched. You might not be an athlete or even exercising when you inflict this one on yourself. It might be the result of a trip or a fall. Next thing you know, your ankle is throbbing. Swelling, bruising and tenderness will follow.
HOW TO AVOID: Supportive shoes are a good idea. Strengthening your ankles will also help. Athletes will tape the ankle or wear a brace. Of course, all too many of the movements that cause ankle sprain are near impossible to avoid. Fortunately, it’s one of our specialties.