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Tips to Avoid Student Athlete Injuries This Fall

Sacramento, CA (PRWEB) September 17, 2013

With the start of the fall season, thousands of student athletes in California will be taking to the field for the love of the game, to support their schools, and for the challenge of competition. All of these athletes are at risk for injuries whether in preparation for or during an athletic event.

“Foot and ankle injuries are common in sports, especially football, cross-country, tennis, soccer, and volleyball. I see many high school athletes throughout their competitive seasons who have suffered from ankle sprains, stress fractures, and various tendinopathies,” said L. Marie Keplinger, DPM, a podiatric surgeon practicing in Fullerton, CA.

“These injuries can sideline an athlete for all or part of a season, depending on the severity. Athletes and sports enthusiasts alike can decrease the risk of injury by taking some simple precautions,” Dr. Keplinger continued.

Each sport carries its own inherent risks, but if these simple precautions are followed, an athlete can reduce his/her chance of becoming injured and losing valuable playing time. The following CPMA recommended precautions are important to implement for the health of any athlete:

? Warm up prior to any sports activity.
Do a slow jog for two to three minutes to warm up the muscles prior to lightly stretching. Be careful not to force the stretch.

? Condition for the sport.
The amount of time spent on the activity should be increased gradually over a period of weeks to build both muscle strength and joint mobility. Cross training by participating in different activities can help strengthen muscle.

? Choose athletic shoes specifically for individual foot type.
Shoes should provide adequate cushioning of the insole, and a built-in arch. It should be flexible enough to bend where the foot bends - at the ball of the foot, not in the middle of the shoe. The heel and heel counter (back of the shoe) should be very stable.

It is important to inspect shoe wear regularly. If there is uneven wear to the heel counter (back of the shoe) or the shoe begins to bend in the middle, it should be replaced. On average an athletic shoe should be replaced every 6 months or more frequently in an avid runner.

Cross training shoes are good choices; however, it is best to use sport-specific shoes.

? Avoid running or stepping on uneven surfaces.
Be careful on rocky terrain, hills with loose gravel or uneven grass fields. If the athlete has problems with their legs, a dirt road is softer than asphalt, which is softer than concrete. Try to pick a good surface with the softest terrain being preferred. And, be sure to train on the surface the sport is generally held on.

? Cool down after any athletic activity.
Make sure the level of activity is much less strenuous than the workout. Avoid abrupt changes in pace and gradually bring the body back to a pre-workout state. This will help to reduce muscle soreness and prevent further injury. It is very important to stretch after activity, as the muscles are more elastic and pliable. This is when the most improvement in flexibility can be obtained.    

? Prevent recurrent injuries.
Athletes who have experienced foot and ankle injuries previously may benefit from using a brace or tape to prevent recurrent ankle injuries. The injured athlete should go through a period of rehabilitation and training before returning to sport.

? Listen to the body.
If foot and ankle pain is experienced during a sport, stop or modify the activity until the pain subsides. If pain does not resolve the athlete should seek attention of the athletic trainer or team podiatrist overseeing the sport.

To help ensure appropriate evaluation and diagnosis of new and recurrent sports related foot and ankle injuries, visit a podiatric physician. To find a local, board-certified podiatric physician, visit

Founded in 1912, the California Podiatric Medical Association (CPMA) is the leading and recognized professional organization for California’s doctors of podiatric medicine (DPMs). DPMs are podiatric physicians and surgeons, also known as podiatrists, qualified by their long and rigorous education, training and experience to diagnose and treat conditions affecting the foot, ankle and structures of the leg.

CPMA, keeping Californians on their Feet – Healthy, Active and Productive.

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