Spring has sprung and area parks are starting to fill with recreational cyclists, skaters, tennis players, runners, and soccer enthusiasts among others. “While exercise is great, these weekend warriors should be aware of some common injuries that can occur and take preventive measures,” states Richard B. Schultz, MD, director of orthopedics at Scott & White Healthcare – Round Rock, who offers the following tips for individual sports and their potential for causing injury.
“These sports are typically characterized by lower extremity injuries such as ankle sprains, shin splints and knee problems,” said Dr. Schultz. “A common problem is the sprained ankle, due to swift movements back and forth.” The best remedy for a sprained ankle follows the acronym RICE: rest, ice, compression and elevation. Elevation and ice are important to reduce swelling. Compression can be with either a supportive device and/or an ACE bandage. If you are prone to ankle sprains, the best preventive measures include physical therapy and rehabilitation, proper shoes and/or braces.
Shin splints are very common in runners. “The shins can become irritated and inflamed as a result of repetitive pounding, poorly fitting shoes or too hard a surface,” explains Dr. Schultz. This usually results in a dull ache (at rest) or shooting pain (when bearing weight). Shin splints may require medical attention if they don’t resolve with RICE and activity limitation. Pain in the shin can also indicate a stress fracture, so a physician should evaluate persistent pain after three to four weeks at rest.
Cycling can range from mountain to racing bikes, but regardless of the style, helmets are a must to prevent head injuries. “While cycling is a very good low impact exercise, if not done properly and with the right equipment, it can certainly cause problems,” stated Dr. Schultz. One common cycling injury is tendonitis of the hip or knee caused by the repeated hip and knee flexing performed in cycling. Illotibial Band Syndrome involves stress and pain on the outside of the knee and hip and is best treated with ice, rest, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or aspirin or ibuprofen. According to Dr. Schultz, physical therapy can also be useful in stretching the Illotibial Band to restore flexibility and decrease tightness as well as decrease inflammation. Good hamstring and hip stretching always help guard against injury as well.
Racquet sports may overuse the wrist, elbow and shoulder. Common ailments include tendonitis and bursitis of these areas. Tendons connect muscle to bone and inflammation of these attachments may cause pain, warmth, and swelling near joints. “This pain is usually intense upon beginning an activity, diminishes as continued, and is sharp once stopped,” says Dr. Schultz. Tendinitis on the inside portion of the elbow is called “golfers elbow” or “little-leaguers elbow.” “Tennis elbow” is pain on the outside of the elbow, and is common in laborers. The key to recovery is fast action: as soon as pain is noticed, use ice intermittently and rest the area. Aspirin or ibuprofen may help. Physical therapy and, lastly, cortisone injections are options if symptoms continue. Bursitis can affect various joints. Bursa is a lubrication sac that allows skin, tendons, and ligaments to glide smoothly over each other. Bursitis occurs when these sacs inflame due to falls, constant rubbing or pressure on elbows, shoulders, hips or knees. The best treatment is to follow RICE and take aspirin or ibuprofen. If pain continues, contact your doctor. Preventive measures include wearing elbow and knee guards.
“Though golf is a non-contact sport, according to experts, a golfer is more likely to sustain a sports injury than a football player,” says Dr. Schultz. Golf injuries are usually caused by lack of physical conditioning, failure to warm up and repetitive motion. Prevalent injuries in golf are wrist, elbow and hand tendonitis. RICE and anti-inflammatory medications may help. Prevention and treatment may include wrist bracing, physical therapy and swinging technique. Golfers are also prone to back pain due to the bent posture and twisting of the torso.