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A Winning Strategy to Beat Spring Sporting Injuries

Podiatrists suggest proper shoes, warm-up routine can prevent most common foot and ankle problems

SUNDAY, April 12 (HealthDay News) -- Spring beckons us outside for fun and exercise and that tends to lead to more calls to doctors about foot injuries, according to the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA).

"With warm weather approaching, many athletes are busy gearing up for another competitive season in their sport. Unfortunately, training in improper footwear and neglecting to stretch properly before and after activity greatly increases serious occurrences of foot and ankle injury," Ross Taubman, APMA president, said in a news release issued by his organization.

The most common way to deal with minor muscle strains or sprains is the RICE method of rest, ice, compression and elevation; however, if the injury fails to improve over a few days, one should visit a doctor, according to the association.

According to the APMA, these are the four most common springtime sporting injuries to the foot and their treatments:

  • Ligament sprains and bone fractures: Sprains require simple immobilization, such as wraps, for a period, while more severe sprain may later require therapy to rebuild the muscle's strength. Fractures require more stringent immobilization, such as a cast, and could take up to 10 weeks to heal.
  • Plantar fasciitis: This type of heel pain in a fibrous plantar fascia band of tissue may require orthotics (custom-made shoe inserts) to ease discomfort. The injury is common in baseball and softball players, and the Ringor company recently developed cleats approved of by the APMA to help reduce the incidence of this injury and others to the foot's bone and muscles.
  • Shin splints: Poor shock absorption or excessive foot flattening caused by footwear often can cause this swelling of the muscles connected to the shin. Stretching and strengthening can help people avoid this injury, but once it does occur, immediate use of a cold compress can reduce inflammation.
  • Achilles tendinitis: Pain and stiffness in the calf and swelling of the Achilles tendon can result from excessive stop-and-start motion. To prevent and treat, stretch the calf muscles slowly before and after an activity.

More information

The American Podiatric Medical Association has more about foot injuries.

-- Kevin McKeever

SOURCE: American Podiatric Medical Association, news release, March 18, 2009

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