10 Most Common Springtime Injuries

May 13, 2024

by  | May 13, 2024 | Family Health

Summer is the perfect opportunity to use that pent-up winter energy and play hard! Some grab a racket, others a ball, and still others grab a pair of skates. One thing is certain, no one wants to spend the delightful summer months on the sidelines recouping from an injury.

1. Ankle Sprains

Whether you are an athlete or not, an ankle sprain can sideline you in a moment as you step off a curb or step over something. Ankle sprains are the most reported injury among college athletes. Women are more susceptible to them than men and once you’ve sprained an ankle, it’s easier to do so again because the weakened and stretched ligaments contribute to Chronic Ankle Instability (CAI). The more sprains you get, the higher your potential to develop osteoarthritis of the ankle.

When active, it’s important to wear shoes that fit properly, are designed for the activity, secure your foot securely, and are not worn out or lack structural integrity. Rest, ice, compression, and elevation along with over-the-counter pain and anti-inflammatory medicines help your ankle to heal. It’s important to rest and take it easy for several weeks and slowly work back up to normal activity to prevent re-injury.

2. Wrist Fractures

Wrist fractures are one of the most common springtime injuries and occur as the result of significant force placed on the wrist when bracing for a fall from a moving object like a bike or skateboard. Wearing wrist splints and avoiding tricks like flips and wheelies are the best ways to protect against fractures when riding wheeled sports devices.

The risk of wrist fractures also increases with age and is one of the most common fractures in those over 50. Most result from standing height falls. Osteoporosis, frequent alcohol intake, current smoking, and high blood phosphate levels are all associated with an increase in risk.

3. Shin Splints

When the muscles, tendons, and bone tissue in the lower leg become strained and irritated because of overuse or excessive strain, shin splints, or medial tibial stress syndrome may develop. Shin splints are common among runners, dancers, military recruits, and any who have recently intensified their workout routine or participated in high-impact sports. They are felt as tenderness, soreness, and possibly pain along the inner shin bone and mild swelling of the lower leg. The pain eventually becomes continuous and if not cared for properly can lead to a stress reaction or even a stress fracture.

To Avoid Shin Splints:

  • Increase higher impact exercises and intensity gradually to allow the body time to adjust.
  • Reduce the overall impact of your workout by including some cross-training exercises such as biking or swimming.
  • Choose the correct shoes with enough support and replace them regularly.
  • Consider arch supports and shock-absorbing insoles.
  • Include strength training in your workout to help strengthen and stabilize legs, ankles, hips, and core muscles to prepare them for higher-impact activities.
  • Analyze your running form through video to identify any patterns that may contribute to shin splints.

4. Rotator Cuff Injury

Nearly 2M people a year in the U.S. experience rotator cuff tears. The rotator cuff is made up of tendons that connect the muscles in the shoulder to the bones. Injuries are common among sports like volleyball, baseball, and javelin throwing which are characterized by repetitive overhead movements. It is common for age to play a role in these injuries because people are active longer and these tendons can weaken with age. When a rotator cuff injury occurs the shoulder is weakened, has a decreased range of motion, and may have pain when carrying out basic daily activities such as brushing hair and getting dressed.

Recovery from a rotator cuff injury involves rest, ice, stretching, and possibly physical therapy. If the injury is severe, surgery may be required.

5. ACL Tears

Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) tears are serious injuries accounting for almost half of all knee injuries in the United States. About 1 in 35000 people are affected with nearly 400,000 ACL reconstructions done per year. These pivoting injuries mostly occur in non-contact sports and are most prevalent in sports requiring sudden spins and stops such as soccer, skiing, and basketball.

Common indicators are the knee giving way, decreased range of motion, and difficulty walking. When the injury occurs patients often hear a “pop” and deep knee pain. About 70% experience sudden swelling caused by bleeding in the joint.

Females are at increased risk of ACL injury due to knee joints that are looser and have a higher range of motion than men and less muscle mass for stabilization. Less stability increases the likelihood of stretching and tearing. When women come down from jumps, they tend to land in a collapsing manner with knees moving inward rather than bending sufficiently which increases the potential for injury.

Tips for avoiding ACL injury:

  • Avoid exercising when overly tired
  • Build strength evenly across muscle groups
  • Don’t forget to work on flexibility and strength
  • Eat a healthy diet so your body has what it needs for your active lifestyle

6. Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar Fasciitis, swelling and inflammation in the thick tissue that runs along the bottom of the foot connecting the toes and heel, can be excruciatingly painful to experience. For 85% of sufferers, the cause is unknown, though many have tight calf and back of leg muscles, flat feet, or high arches. Plantar fasciitis affects 10% of the general population and runners. Most who suffer are working adults between the ages of 25 and 65 and more than 11% require professional medical care for the issue. Women 45 to 65 and those who are overweight appear to suffer more. Though 50% of those affected have bone spurs, they are not seen as causative.
To avoid developing this painful issue that feels worse after exercising, make sure your shoes have the support your feet need and aren’t worn out, lose weight if needed, and change your exercise routine around so your feet don’t always take the brunt of it.
Additionally, rest, ice, over-the-counter pain medicine, and lower-impact activities can bring relief.

7. Achilles Tendonitis

If you are a runner who’s been inside for the last several months and is looking forward to pounding the pavement once again, be cautious by increasing intensity and distance slowly to avoid injury. Achilles injuries are common among younger athletes, however, there has been an uptick in middle-aged and older patients who are staying active as they age. Achilles Tendonitis is when the tendon that connects your calf muscle to your heel becomes inflamed or irritated by overuse or repetitive stress. Pain is felt in the heel area and back of the leg with stiffness. Rest, ice, and over-the-counter pain relievers help. Care should be taken to always stretch the tendon thoroughly before and after exercise. Adding strengthening exercises like squats, calf raises, leg curls, leg extensions, lunges, and leg presses to your routine is also recommended.

Achilles Tendonitis Symptoms

  • Inflammation
  • Pain ranging from dull to severe
  • Increased blood flow to the tendon
  • Thickening of the tendon

Rupture Symptoms

  • Extreme foot pain and swelling
  • Total immobility

8. Hamstring Injuries

If you follow or play sports, you have likely heard about someone ‘pulling’ their hamstring, or perhaps you have pulled your own. The hamstrings are the group of three thigh muscles on the back of the leg that cross the knee joint and end at the lower leg. They join the hamstring tendons near where the tendons attach to bones and injury can occur to one or more at a time. If you can extend your leg straight back and bend your knee, you have your hamstrings to thank.

Hamstring injuries occur frequently in sports and account for 12-15% of all athletic injuries, especially in the spring when people up their activity level. Basketball, soccer, and track athletes are at increased risk as those sports require regular sprinting, and injuries can be challenging to treat due to their high recurrence rate.

9. Runner’s Knee

Warm weather can bring out the road warrior in us all –whether we bike, run, or whichever form of exercise we choose. Warmer weather increases our desire to participate in extended periods of repetitive or high-impact exercise before our bodies are ready which can lead to overuse and pain in front of the knee. Women are at increased risk of Runner’s Knee, or patellofemoral syndrome and signs of it are pain when climbing stairs or squatting. Prolonged sitting with knees flexed can increase the pain. Misalignment occurs when the muscles around the knee and hip don’t keep the kneecap in place. Prioritizing evenly developed and strong leg muscles can help prevent Runner’s Knee.

Proper warm-up before exercising and stretching is helpful, and treatment includes ice, rest, and elevation. Physical therapy can help identify muscles that need strengthening and bring balance to muscles.

10. Concussions

The most common ways people get concussions are through falling, motor-vehicle crashes, assault, and firearm-related injuries. The odds of suffering a concussion for those who play a contact sport are about 19% meaning that over five years of participation odds are that a person will suffer a concussion. Football accounts for around 300,000 concussions per year in the United States and the risk of a recurring football-related concussion is 3-6 times higher on those who’ve already had one. Concussion rates among soccer players are comparable to those of football players. High school contact sports contribute up to 62,000 concussions per year to statistics.

Repeat head injuries can create a rare yet significant health risk called chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). CTE is associated with repeated head injury particularly when a new injury occurs before a previous one has healed. There is much still to uncover about CTE and who ultimately is affected but symptoms include mental and physical issues as well as behavior problems.

In your zeal to get back outdoors and enjoy the sunshine, be careful in how you approach increased activity. Allow your body time to warm up and strengthen so you can avoid these common injuries that could wreck your body and your summer. If you are concerned that you might be experiencing any of these injuries, reach out to our Indian Trail urgent care for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.

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