Just in Time for Summer: 5 Common Sports Injuries—and How to Avoid Them
Just as you ramp up training for your first 5K of the year, tendon pain sets in and sidelines you. It’s a tale that’s all too common: you set out to do something good for your health and sustain an injury in the process.
Well, not this month. In June, which is National Safety Month, the running trails, baseball diamonds, tennis courts and golf courses fill with people of all ages taking advantage of long days and summer sunshine. Now is a good time to assess your workout scheme and make sure you’re in the proper condition to be playing those 18 holes or running that race.
Make an appointment with your doctor for your annual physical to ensure that everything is in good working order. Then, familiarize yourself with some common sports injuries and learn how to prevent them. Here are five to start with:
Tennis elbow. The technical term for tennis elbow is lateral epicondylitis, and it describes the inflamed condition of muscles around the elbow. It’s a pain that’s focused in the area where your forearm and elbow meet, and you don’t have to be a tennis player to get it. It’s simply caused by overuse of those muscles, and it can make everyday tasks, like cutting food or even shaking hands, a painful ordeal. To prevent tennis elbow, do arm stretches before working out. And work on slowly building your strength and endurance so your arm is well equipped when it’s time for your next match.
Tendonitis. Tendons attach muscle to bone. When a tendon becomes inflamed from overuse, it’s called tendonitis. This is an injury that’s commonly seen in power walkers and runners who are a little too overzealous in their workouts and haven’t conditioned properly. They will often experience tendonitis in the Achilles tendon, which is behind the ankle, or in the patellar tendon, which is just behind the knee. To avoid getting tendonitis, ease into walking and running. Don’t do too much too soon. Even if your brain wants to, your body may not be ready.
Lower back pain. Many of us experience lower back pain as we age, and it’s a common complaint among golfers who may suffer from back spasms and strains. One way to prevent lower back pain is to build up your core muscles. Here are some strengthening exercises from Mayo Clinic to get you started. If you're a golfer, you should also warm up and stretch before playing so your muscles are limber when you aim for that hole in one.
Rotator cuff injuries. The four muscles that connect to the shoulder are referred to as the rotator cuff. If you leap into intense sessions of tennis and racquetball games without any training or conditioning, you could risk injuring your rotator cuff. If you haven’t picked up a racquet all season (or in years), start slowly. Begin with volleying a ball back and forth to build strength and endurance. After a few sessions of that, start out with a casual game and increase intensity from there.
Plantar fasciitis. If the soft tissue at the bottom of your foot is painful, you may have plantar fasciitis. The injury is caused by strain and inflammation and often impacts runners and walkers. To avoid it, ease into your routine. Be patient and build your speed and distance slowly.
Summer is a great time to get out there and get in shape. Just be sure to stretch and take it slowly. If you push too hard, you risk injuring yourself, and then you may be out for the whole season.