Fall is the perfect time of year for outdoor fun

With the changing leaves and cooler weather, millions of adults will participate in sports: football, soccer, basketball, baseball and softball, and running, to name a few. Whether you are skilled, an amateur, or enjoy individual activities – adults will get active for all of the health benefits exercise has to offer.

However, for some people – particularly those who overdo or who don’t properly train or warm up – these benefits can come at a price: sports injuries.

The types of sports-and-exercise related injuries most commonly seen by a podiatric physician are the following:

Ankle sprain is a common injury to the ligament, one of the bands of tough, fibrous tissue that connects two or more bones at the joint and prevents excessive movement of the joint. Sprains that do not show improvement in three days should be seen by a podiatric physician. Investing in five to 10 minutes of stretching and warming up and wearing the right shoe for the sport you are participating in can help prevent this common athletic injury.

Muscle strain is defined as either a partial or total tear of muscle fibers in the muscle itself or the origin of the muscle. Exercisers frequently strain their lower leg and foot muscles during rapid movement sports such as tennis, basketball, racquetball, running, and sprinting. Improper and inadequate warm-up and stretching are some of the contributing factors in this type of injury. Minor strains should heal in 1-2 weeks with rest. If pain lingers longer, consult a podiatrist.

Tendinitis is a common type of ankle and foot problem, defined as an inflammation of the tendons—the tissue that connects muscles to bones. The most common, Achilles tendinitis, is where inflammation is located at the back of the leg where the tendon attaches to the foot (heel pain). In sports, a tendinitis injury is usually the result of abnormal foot biomechanics, excessive foot pronation (tendency of the arch of the foot to flatten out too much), and history of overuse in a specific sport (e.g., basketball, tennis, running, volleyball), which requires continuous high-impact repetitive movements. Contact your podiatrist if ankle pain does not improve or worsens after a few days of rest and ice therapy.

Stress fractures are hairline breaks resulting from repeated stress on the bone. High-impact sports such as running, gymnastics, and volleyball can increase the risk of stress fractures. To prevent stress fractures, wear shoes that provide sufficient padding and support when you walk, run, dance, or perform any other activities that stress the bones of the foot. If continued pain persists, contact your podiatrist.

Plantar fasciitis (heel pain) is caused by inflammation of the connective tissue that stretches from the base of the toes, across the arch of the foot, to the point at which it inserts in the heel bone (the soles of your feet). Inflammation is caused by overuse with excessive foot flattening and is aggravated by tight calf muscles. Aerobic activities such as walking or running are usually related to this injury, but it can also result from basketball, football, or softball. Customized orthotics (custom devices for shoes), along with an appropriate stretching program, may be prescribed by your podiatrist to help alleviate pain.