Avoid Springtime Overuse Injuries

With warmer weather rolling in, we’ve seen the return to sports and outdoor activities a bit earlier this year. Before you jump straight back into your favorite activities of baseball, biking, golfing, hiking, pickleball, running, tennis, etc., it is important to be mindful of preparing and caring for your body, so you don’t find yourself sitting on the sideline.

Here is a breakdown of the most common springtime injuries, things you can do to prevent them, and what treatments to seek should you experience any of these during the spring and summer months ahead.

Prevention should be your priority. Above all, it is important to hydrate, fuel properly, and slowly increase activity over a matter of several weeks. Start with a brisk walk or some stretches to warm up the muscle groups you will be using and make sure to cool down or stretch following the activity to reduce risk of injury.

Ankle Sprains

When uneven weight is applied to the ligaments supporting the ankle, during periods of walking or running, they may become over stretched or torn resulting in pain, swelling, and/or bruising. Ankle sprains are quite common and make up approximately 25 percent of all sports-related injuries. To avoid this type of injury, warming up before physical activity and doing regular ankle range of motion exercises can reduce injury, along with caution while walking or running on uneven surfaces. Taping, ice, and heat (after swelling goes down), and cold laser therapy are some of the best treatments along with reduced activity until symptoms have decreased. 

Tennis/Pickleball Elbow

Lateral epicondylitis can result from excess strain of the extensor carpi radialis brevis muscle and surrounding extensor tendons that attach to the outside of the elbow. Frequent causes of this strain include incorrect backhand stroke, weak shoulder or wrist muscles, or repeated motions for extended periods of time. Symptoms may include burning, aching pain along the outside of the elbow that is aggravated by activity or gripping objects. To avoid this type of injury, stretch the forearm prior to play, wear a brace during play if necessary, and strengthen the muscles of the forearm and wrist. Treatment includes rest, stretching, and strengthening of the muscles of the forearm, soft tissue mobilization, taping, ultrasound therapy, shockwave therapy, and cold laser therapy. 

Golfer’s/Little Leaguer’s Elbow

Medial epicondylitis can result from excess strain of the ulnar collateral ligament and or flexor carpi muscles that attach to the inside of the elbow. Repetitive motions such as golf swings, throwing sports, and weight training can produce symptoms of pain, stiffness, swelling, or altered sensation located along the inside of the elbow. To avoid this type of injury, stretch the wrist, forearm, and warm up the shoulder muscles prior to play. The best treatments for this condition include rest, stretching and strengthening of the muscles of the forearm, soft tissue mobilization, taping, ultrasound therapy, shockwave therapy, and cold laser therapy. 

Groin Pulls

Groin pain following increased sports activity can indicate inflammation of the adductor muscles, resulting in sharp, twinging pain, difficulty moving the leg or hip, swelling, or muscle weakness. To avoid this type of injury, stretch out the adductor muscles prior to play by performing the butterfly or lateral squat stretches. Treatments for this condition include reducing physical activity to avoid further damage, stretching and rehabilitative strengthening, ice, heat, and cold laser therapy to reduce inflammation.

Hamstring Strains

Hamstrings strains may present as sharp pain or achiness in the back of the upper thigh or lower gluteal region. To avoid this type of injury, do a quick warm up jog and or stretch, perform a forward fold with the leg slightly in front of you and toes drawn back toward the shin, to elongate the muscle. Acute management for the condition includes applying heat and ice to the region and reducing activity. Over time, gentle stretches, soft tissue mobilization, eccentric and concentric hamstring exercises, and strengthening of the glute and adductor muscles can help prevent future injury. 

Shin Splints

Shin splints often present as sharp pain or tenderness on the front of the shin that worsens with heel striking or ankle inversion. Repetitive use of these muscles can lead to inflammation of the tibialis anterior muscle. To avoid shin splints wear appropriate and well-fitting athletic shoes, slowly increase the level of activity, and integrate low impact or non-weight bearing activities into training to reduce the possibility of overuse (e.g., swimming or cycling). Treatment includes stretching, strengthening of the shin muscles, shoe assessment and orthotics, ice and heat, ultrasound therapy, shockwave therapy, and cold laser therapy.

Should any of these present and persist, consult your chiropractor, physician, or physical therapist for more information regarding management and rehabilitation to get you back on the court, trails, or course feeling your best!

Picture of Claire Roth

Claire Roth

Dr. Claire is a chiropractor in Chanhassen, MN. Her athletic and nutrition-focused background drives her to help others live their healthiest lives and aids her treatment of pediatric and adolescent patients, pregnant women, and athletes ranging from the weekend warrior to elite competitor.
Picture of Claire Roth

Claire Roth

Dr. Claire is a chiropractor in Chanhassen, MN. Her athletic and nutrition-focused background drives her to help others live their healthiest lives and aids her treatment of pediatric and adolescent patients, pregnant women, and athletes ranging from the weekend warrior to elite competitor.

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