We understand that no athlete wants to be sidelined with an injury, but if you rush back too soon following an injury, you’re risking a setback or an even more severe injury. This is especially true for foot injuries, as many athletes put a lot of force on their feet and ankles when they run, jump, cut and turn during their sport. With that in mind, we wanted to spotlight five foot injuries that you should not rush back from if you’re a competitive or recreational athlete.
Don’t Rush Back From These Five Foot Injuries
If you’ve suffered any of these foot injuries, make sure you ease back into athletic activity as recommended by your doctor, otherwise you’ll be risking another injury.
- Ankle Sprains – An ankle sprain is the most common injury among athletes, with roughly 25,000 people spraining their ankle during athletics every single day. Although these sprains can vary in severity, the mechanism of injury involves damage to the supportive ankle ligaments. If you don’t re-strengthen these ligaments appropriately prior to returning to athletics, they won’t be able to provide the necessary support to your ankle, and you’ll be at risk for another sprain or even a fracture. Take some time to strengthen your ankle with physical therapy before jumping back into athletic activity.
- Achilles Tendonitis – Achilles tendonitis involves inflammation of the Achilles tendon, oftentimes as a result of overuse. If you don’t give your feet enough downtime between activity or sport season, this inflammation can linger. Similarly, if you rush back from tendonitis treatment too quickly, inflammation can set back in. Rest the area and allow healing to run its course so that inflammation can subside for good.
- Plantar Fasciitis – Similar to the above point, plantar fasciitis is a condition that involves inflammation of the thick band of tissue on the underside of your foot that connects your toes to your heel. If you’ve been diagnosed with plantar fasciitis, treatment likely involves rest, activity avoidance and physical therapy. Trying to push through the discomfort can lead to a full blown tear of the plantar fascia, which will leave you sidelined for a number of months. Protect the area so that inflammation can resolve, then strengthen supportive structures with physical therapy to help take stress off the fascia.
- Foot Fractures – Foot fractures need to be protected from strain until the bone has completely healed and regained its normal ability to handle stress. If you rush back too soon, the fracture site may still be weak, and stress can cause a refracture of these healing bones. Because foot fractures oftentimes take weeks or months to heal, your conditioning may also suffer as a result of limited physical activity, so you’ll need to slowly build back up your endurance. Taking it slow in your return to athletics is great for your foot and your conditioning.
- Shin Splints – Shin splints may not be as serious as other conditions on this list, but if left untreated, the condition can snowball into a major issue, including a tibial fracture. Shin splints involve microtears in the bones and muscle of the shinbone as a result of overuse. Increasing your athletic activity too quickly in a short period of time is the most common reason for shin splint onset. Rest can help the area heal, but then you’ll want to slowly increase the amount of stress you put on your legs so that the condition doesn’t return.
If you need help overcoming any of these foot or ankle injuries, or you want to talk to a specialist about a different issue, reach out to Dr. McDonald and his team today at (860) 244-8889.