Spring is here! The temperature is on the rise and so are our patients. Along with the sunshine and heat comes a lot of new sports leagues across the city. Including soccer, softball and new running clubs. After a year-long hiatus I am starting to run again and recently started a co-ed soccer league that plays on Thursdays. After the first week of playing and starting to run again, these are the most common injuries we are seeing on the field, and in office:
How: The majority of hamstring injuries occur during competition. Along with muscular fatigue, a combination of poor warm ups, prior injuries, imbalance of muscular strength, limited hip ROM (range of motion), and faulty running biomechanics are to blame.
Tip: A proper warm up with dynamic movements is key, especially if you haven’t played a sport in a long time.
How: To put it simply, during normal gait, the foot approaches the ground in supination, allowing ground contact to occur. As a shock-absorbing mechanism, the foot initially relaxes; failed conversion from shock absorber to rigid lever results in hyperpronation of the foot which puts stress on the achilles tendon. If the achilles tendon is stretched beyond its capabilities an injury can occur. Micro traumas or overuse injuries are also common culprits.
Tip: No one likes to warm up, but warming up and cooling down are what’s going to keep you from getting hurt. Make sure to increase activity levels gradually, stretch/strengthen your calves and invest in good footwear.
How: Playing sports with sprinting, bursts of speed, or sudden changes in direction can increase the chances of a groin strain. The adductor muscle group (groin) has a specific mechanical disadvantage when it comes to these types of movements. Recurring stress to this muscle group leads to an increase of injuries.
Tips: Dynamic stretching of the adductor group prior to activity is essential, being aware of body positioning while playing sports and strengthening the muscle group to tolerance.
How: Repetitive loading from running or jumping on hard surfaces can cause shin splints. Common training errors include running too much, too fast, or too long. People who haven’t been running regularly or those with poor technique are at an even greater risk of developing “Shin Splints.” When it comes to gait, running with a narrow gait increases stress on the tibia as well as the foot. Moral of the story, get your biomechanics in check!
Tip: If you are new to running or just getting back into it, try and run at a “talking pace” and on soft surfaces such as a trail or a track. For example, running along the Embarcadero is beautiful but doesn’t provide the best surface for avoiding injuries. Running up and down hills while your form is not dialed in, specifically running down hills can also lead to injuries.