Fitness Foils

May 8, 2015 | Blog, Houston Healthy Living Blog

For every favorite springtime sport, there’s an injury that can keep you sidelined. Learn now to prevent the pain and stay in the game.

For many of us, springtime means playtime. The sun is shining and the fields, paths, and courts beckon. But one wrong move or too many years of pounding the pavement can leave you couch-ridden. Here, we take a look at some of the most common sports injuries and how you can avoid them.

Tennis: An injury so common it has its own name, tennis elbow is a condition cause by overuse of the arm, forearm and hand muscles. The weak grip strength and burning pain aren’t actually due to an injured elbow. These symptoms are telltale signs of damage to the forearm muscle that helps stabilize the wrist when the elbow is straight (during a ground stroke, for example). When this muscle is weakened from overuse, microscopic tears form in the tendon where it attaches to the joint, leading to inflammation and pain.

Up to 95% of patients have success with nonsurgical treatment, but the first step is to put down the racket for a while. In addition to taking a break, drugs like aspirin or ibuprofen reduce pain and swelling. Be sure to have your tennis equipment checked for proper fit, too. Stiffer rackets that are more loosely strung may reduce stress on the forearm.

Running: Runners, admit it: You’re a wee bit crazy (in a good way, of course). Mile after mile, rain or shine, you pound away at that pavement. So it’s understandable that you refuse to let a little shin pain keep you from your daily sweat session. When it comes to the all-too-common shin splint, there’s no true consensus among experts as to its cause. Theories include small tears in the muscle that’s pulled off the bone, an inflammation of the muscle or a combination of the two. Fortunately, experts agree on one aspect of shin splints: how to treat them.

When splints strike, stop running or decrease your distance, depending on the extent of the pain. From there, be sure to ice your shins regularly to decrease inflammation, practice proper stretching and try cross training like cycling, swimming or yoga. When you return to your regular running schedule, work your way up by increasing mileage slowly—aim for a 10% increase each week. Wear the right shoes for your feet and try to avoid hills and excessively hard surfaces.

Cycling: Cycling is practically the definition of a repetitive motion, with the average cyclist pedaling 3,600 times in an hour. No wonder cyclists often experience knee pain from overuse. One common problem, patellofemoral pain syndrome occurs when the patella (knee cap) gets out of alignment, cause wear on cartilage and pain around the kneecap.

Knee injuries in cyclists are often caused by muscle imbalance. Exercises for the quadriceps and hips can strengthen the muscles that support the kneecap, keeping it in proper alignment. Ask a professional about your bike fit and cycling form. A seat that’s too high or low can cause injury, as can pedaling with your knees facing inward or outward.

If you want to get back into pain for any of these sports, contact your physical therapist.

4 Common Exercise Mistakes

1) Going all-out, right away. Give your body about five minutes to warm up before you really hit it.

2) Running the same route. Variety is the spice of life. Mix up your workouts with some cross training.

3) Skipping the stretching. Always end a workout with a good stretch. Your legs will thank you in the morning.

4) Playing through the pain. A little discomfort is good; actual pain is not. Respect your limits and give it a rest when you’re hurt.


Eat Well, Move Well, BE WELL,