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Resources

Patient Education

Common Lower-Body Sports Injuries & How to Prevent Them

Athletes (and/or guardians of athletes) should be aware that it is impossible to fully prevent sports injuries. In sports like football, soccer, basketball, and track, the nature of the game can make players more susceptible to a variety of injuries—that many agree are well worth the risk. To decrease these risks, read up on the most common sports injuries of the lower body and how to prevent them.

ANKLE SPRAIN

An ankle sprain is a common injury that can happen to people of all ages through a variety of activities. Whether you’re walking down the street or pivoting during a basketball game, a sprained ankle is ultimately an injury to one or more of the ligaments that stabilize the ankle. When the ligament (or ligaments) tears or overstretches, it can cause swelling, bruising, tenderness, and/or instability of the ankle depending on the severity.

While almost all ankle sprains can be treated without surgery, it is important to see your doctor to ensure the best treatment plan for a full recovery.

Prevention

Exercises to strengthen and increase flexibility in your ankles can help prevent a strain:

  • Warm up thoroughly before practices and games
  • Keep an eye out for uneven surfaces
  • Wear comfortable shoes that support your ankle’s stability
  • Refrain from overworking your ankle if you begin to feel pain

SHIN SPLINTS

Shin splints are often described as pain located in the front (inner or outer) of the lower leg along the shin bone (tibia) during or shortly after physical activity. Shin splints can occur for several reasons such as: wearing shoes with minimal support, running on hard surfaces, lack of warm-up, increasing the length or intensity of a workout too quickly, or muscle imbalance.

Prevention

With multiple causes comes multiple ways to prevent shin splints:

  • Gradually increase exercise length and intensity
  • Warm up thoroughly before physical activity
  • Stretch properly to strengthen your calf muscles and hip muscles
  • Wear shoes with proper support and shock-absorbing insoles
  • Avoid running on hard or uneven surfaces
  • Do not exercise through the pain

ANTERIOR CRUCIATE LIGAMENT (ACL) TEAR

The ACL is a commonly injured knee ligament. An ACL injury can be caused by stopping suddenly, slowing down while running, rapidly changing direction or pivoting, or direct collision—which is why athletes who participate in high-intensity sports such as football, basketball, and soccer are more likely to experience this injury. You may be experiencing an ACL tear if you hear a loud “popping” sensation in your knee, followed by swelling, severe pain, loss of range of motion, and instability. If you are experiencing these symptoms, it is important to see a doctor immediately. It is key to receive a proper diagnosis and treatment plan to ensure a steady recovery.

Prevention

To decrease the risk of a knee injury, you should focus on stretches and exercises that work on balance, power, and agility:

  • Squats
  • Hip flexors
  • Abductors
  • Walking lunges
  • Side planks
  • Single leg ball passes

Don’t let an avoidable injury keep you sidelined! For more tips on how to prevent sports injuries, contact us today. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms listed above, visit our website to submit an online form or call us to schedule your appointment. Our board-certified orthopedic surgeons are here to get you back to doing what you love!

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