How to Prevent Ankle Injuries

How to Prevent Ankle Injuries

Ankle injuries can keep you from enjoying the activities you love. If you participate in any of these sports or athletic activities that put players at a higher risk of damaging the joint, here are the steps you can take to avoid getting hurt.

For many athletes, ankle injuries are a common cause for concern. While most sprains can heal in less than two months through rest, icing, and bracing, that still means time off from playing sports and enjoying other aspects of an active lifestyle.

In addition to the pain and discomfort they cause, sprains can put you at risk for developing more serious conditions. Even after they heal, they can leave the ankle weaker and more prone to dislocations, fractures, or osteochondral defects formed by cracks in the cartilage.

Whether you’ve had sprains before or simply want to avoid this painful condition, careful prevention is key to maintaining your health and continuing to enjoy your favorite sports. Here’s what it takes to avoid ankle injuries while playing soccer, running, and more.

SOCCER

In sports and in life, it’s a good idea to look before you leap. Aside from being on the receiving end of an unexpected slide tackle, the most common way to sprain your ankle is jumping — perhaps for a contested header — and landing badly. If you jump in a crowded area, spare some attention to where you touch down. While in competitive leagues it’s expected that you go for every ball you can, weekend warriors might exercise some caution and avoid risky jumps.

Soccer is a sport of quick acceleration, and the rapid directional changes it requires can also cause ankle injuries. Preemptive balance training can help you avoid sustaining any damage. This training consists of exercises like standing on one foot with your other ankle behind your back, catching and throwing a ball while on one foot, and one-legged squats.

BASKETBALL

As much as fans and announcers talk about “ankle-breaking” ball handling, the main cause of ankle injuries in basketball is actually rebounds. Be careful of risky leaps, whether it’s a heavily covered jump shot or a battle at the rim. Similar to soccer, landing on an uneven surface after a jump causes the most problems. So if the area is too congested, don’t be afraid to fall.

In addition, the stiff floor and rapid pivots of basketball are a recipe for ankle strain. Basketball shoes are designed with this in mind, so someone playing on a competitive team can take comfort in that layer of ankle protection. However, if you’re playing a pickup game in a regular pair of sneakers, watch out for quick stops and turns.

FOOTBALL

In any sport, it’s important to know your risks — and in football, those can vary by position. The causes of injury for a lineman are going to be different from those for a receiver or defensive back. For open-field positions that make rapid cuts and go up for the ball, the primary risk is landing unevenly. For those closer to the line of scrimmage, the bigger worry is getting forced into an unnatural position by the weight of a pileup.

Football is a contact sport, so some risks must be accepted. Still, a consistent stretching and strengthening regimen can go a long way. Jumping and skipping exercises can both strengthen the ankle and prepare it to absorb the impact of hitting the ground with force. Band exercises are useful for stretching your ankle beyond the normal pressures of practice, and could make all the difference if your foot ends up lodged at an awkward angle.

DANCE

Dancing is rigorous exercise, and ballet in particular puts the ankles under intense strain. As you learn new routines, it’s vital to gradually strengthen and work up to moves that force your feet into more difficult contortions. It is also important to strike a balance between mastering a move and overworking the muscles of the foot.

In what is already a standard practice, wrapping satin shoe ribbons around the ankle while dancing en pointe will help keep the foot stable in this elongated, high-pressure position. Although less research has been done on other forms of dance, proper warm-up, strengthening, and stretching have all proven helpful for injury prevention among ballet dancers.

RUNNING

Beyond buying sturdy shoes, choosing the right surface is key to safe running. By sticking to flat surfaces, you can decrease the risk of rolling your ankle. If you prefer running trails, then make sure not to lose sight of the changes in terrain. While some ankle injuries come from missteps and twists, others can stem from repetitive pounding. When you start to feel consistent pain, it’s time to take a break. Stretching before and after running sessions is also useful.

If you’re suffering from an ankle injury, consult an orthopedic specialist to learn about your treatment options. At Comprehensive Orthopaedics, our team of ankle specialists —Dr. Engel,  Dr. Nute and Dr. Lasee — have helped countless patients get back on their feet and return to the activities they enjoy. Contact us today to take your first step on the road to recovery.

How to Keep Your Kids Out of the ER This Summer

How to Keep Your Kids Out of the ER This Summer

Make sure safety is part of kids’ summer fun.

“With kids spending more time outdoors, there is more opportunity for everything from broken bones, sprains, strains and lacerations, to tick bites and heat stroke,” said Dr. James Dwyer, director of emergency medicine at Northern Westchester Hospital in Mount Kisco, N.Y.

“Accidents will happen, but there are many steps parents can take to help prevent injuries without spoiling the fun,” he added in a hospital news release.

Children should always wear shoes. “When kids shed their shoes, they are at risk for splinters and cuts from broken glass as well as tick bites,” Dwyer said, adding that foot cuts are among the most common summer injuries his hospital treats.

When bicycling, skateboarding or inline skating, children should wear proper safety gear. That includes a helmet as well as wrist, elbow and knee pads.

Trampoline injuries are also common during the summer, and some cause lasting damage. The American Academy of Pediatrics urges parents not to let their kids use home trampolines.

Ticks are another threat. They can cause illnesses such as Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. When walking or hiking in the woods, wear long sleeves and long pants tucked into your socks, and use insect repellent that contains DEET. When you come inside, check skin and clothing for ticks, then shower, Dwyer advised.

Children should also drink plenty of water and avoid overexertion to prevent heat-related illness.

If you have a swimming pool, it should be fenced with a gate that locks. When kids are swimming, an attentive adult should be present.

“Swimming lessons are essential for children who are not strong swimmers,” Dwyer said. “A Coast Guard approved life vest should be worn until the child can safely swim in deep water without assistance.”

Never leave a child unattended in a car.

“The temperature inside a vehicle can rise so quickly that it can kill a child in as little as 15 minutes. Be mindful when there is a change in your morning routine or if you are distracted by other events in your life, because that’s when a moment’s inattention can turn into a tragedy,” Dwyer said.

More information

The American Academy of Pediatrics has more on summer safety.

SOURCE: Northern Westchester Hospital, news release

Preventing Sports Injuries

Preventing Sports Injuries

Exercise is good for the body and with the proper precautions, sports injuries can often be prevented. The quality of protective equipment – padding, helmets, shoes, mouth guards – have helped to improve the safety in sports. But, you can still be susceptible to injury. Always contact your healthcare provider before starting any type of physical activity, especially vigorous types of exercises or sports.

Causes of sport injuries may include:

  • improper or poor training practices
  • wearing improper sporting gear
  • being in poor health condition
  • improper warm-up or stretching practices before a sporting event or exercise

Common sports injuries include:

  • Sprains and strains
  • Joint injuries (knee)
  • Muscle injuries
  • Dislocations
  • Fractures
  • Achilles tendon injuries
  • Pain along the shin bone

How can I prevent a sports injury?

The following are some basic steps to prevent a sports injury:

  • Develop a fitness plan that includes cardiovascular exercise, strength training, and flexibility.  This will help decrease your chance of injury
  • Alternate exercising different muscle groups and exercise every other day.
  • Cool down properly after exercise or sports. It should take 2 times as long as your warm ups.
  • Stay hydrated. Drink water to prevent dehydration, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke.
  • Stretching exercises can improve the ability of muscles to contract and perform, reducing the risk for injury. Each stretch should start slowly until you reach a point of muscle tension. Stretching should not be painful. Aim to hold each stretch for up to 20 seconds.
  • Use the right equipment or gear and wear shoes that provide support  and that may correct certain foot problems that can lead to injury.
  • Learn the right techniques to play your sport.
  • Rest when tired, Avoid exercise when you are tired or in pain.
  • Always take your time during strength training and go through the full range of motion with each repetition.
  • If you do sustain a sports injury, make sure you participate in adequate rehabilitation before resuming strenuous activity.
Ligament Injuries to the Knee

Ligament Injuries to the Knee

What are knee ligaments?

There are 4 major ligaments in the knee. Ligaments are elastic bands of tissue that connect bones to each other and provide stability and strength to the joint. The 4 main ligaments in the knee connect the femur (thighbone) to the tibia (shin bone), and include:

Anatomy of the knee
Click image to enlarge
  • Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). The ligament, located in the center of the knee, that controls rotation and forward movement of the tibia (shin bone).
  • Posterior cruciate ligament (PCL). The ligament, located in the back of the knee, that controls backward movement of the tibia (shin bone).
  • Medial collateral ligament (MCL). The ligament that gives stability to the inner knee.
  • Lateral collateral ligament (LCL). The ligament that gives stability to the outer knee.

How are cruciate ligaments injured?

The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is one of the most common ligaments to be injured. The ACL is often stretched and/or torn during a sudden twisting motion (when the feet stay planted one way, but the knees turn the other way). Skiing, basketball, and football are sports that have a higher risk of ACL injuries.

The posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) is also a common ligament to become injured in the knee. However, the PCL injury usually occurs with sudden, direct impact, such as in a car accident or during a football tackle.

What are the symptoms of a cruciate ligament injury?

Often, a cruciate ligament injury does not cause pain. Instead, the person may hear a popping sound as the injury occurs, followed by the leg buckling when trying to stand on it, and swelling. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently.

The symptoms of a cruciate ligament injury may look like other conditions or medical problems. Always see your doctor for a diagnosis.

How are collateral ligaments injured?

The medial collateral ligament is injured more often than the lateral collateral ligament. Stretch and tear injuries to the collateral ligaments are usually caused by a blow to the outer side of the knee, such as when playing hockey or football.

What are the symptoms of a collateral ligament injury?

Similar to cruciate ligament injuries, an injury to the collateral ligament causes the knee to pop and buckle, causing pain and swelling.

The symptoms of a collateral ligament injury may look like other conditions or medical problems. Always see your doctor for a diagnosis.

How is a knee ligament injury diagnosed?

In addition to a complete medical history and physical exam, diagnostic procedures for a knee ligament injury may include:

  • X-ray. A diagnostic test that uses invisible electromagnetic energy beams to produce images of internal tissues, bones, and organs onto film to rule out an injury to bone instead of, or in addition to, a ligament injury.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). A diagnostic procedure that uses a combination of large magnets, radiofrequencies, and a computer to produce detailed images of organs and structures within the body; can often determine damage or disease in bones and a surrounding ligament or muscle.
  • Arthroscopy. A minimally-invasive diagnostic and treatment procedure used for conditions of a joint. This procedure uses a small, lighted, optic tube (arthroscope) that is inserted into the joint through a small incision in the joint. Images of the inside of the joint are projected onto a screen; used to evaluate any degenerative and/or arthritic changes in the joint; to detect bone diseases and tumors; to determine the cause of bone pain and inflammation.

Treatment for knee ligament injuries

Treatment may include:

  • Medicaine such as ibuprofen
  • Muscle-strengthening exercises
  • Protective knee brace (for use during exercise)
  • Ice pack application (to reduce swelling)
  • Surgery
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