Sports Injury Management

When we engage in physical activity there is a positive effect on muscle, tendon, bone, and overall physical and mental health when performed within our levels of tolerance. However, when we overexert our bodies or have incorrect form, a sporting injury may occur.

Which sporting injuries can a podiatrist help with?

Two thirds of all sporting injuries are reported in the lower limb, with the most common sites of injuries being:

  • Knees: causing up to 40% of sporting injuries
  • Ankles: causing up to 25% of sporting injuries
  • Feet: causing up to 10% of sporting injuries

What can I do if I become injured during sport or activity?

If you feel pain and tenderness during or after sport or activity the first thing you should do is follow the RICER protocol:

Rest: Cease the sport or activity you are participating in and rest the affected area. You should limit or restrict weight bearing until you can do so pain free.

Ice: Ice the affected area immediately being careful not to put ice in direct contact with uncovered skin as this may induce a cold burn. Ice should be applied for 10-minute periods, repeating every two hours for up to 48 hours.

Compression: Apply a moderately firm bandage or crepe bandage around the affected area making sure a 50% overlap of the material is applied 6-8 inches below and above the site of injury.

Elevation: Elevate the affected area above your heart, this can be as simple as lying on a bed or couch with the affected area resting on a pillow.

Referral: If, following an injury, you are unable to weight-bear or are in a severe amount pain, you should seek medical treatment. If, after two days of rest, your lower limb injury pain has not resolved you should contact a podiatrist.

What are the most common sporting injuries and how are they treated?

Ligament and tendon injuries account for 35% of all sporting injuries, such as the medial and lateral collateral ligaments or the Achilles tendon. Following injury to ligaments and tendons, you should:

  • Immobilise through use of bracing and/or strapping
  • Begin gentle, pain-free stretching to maintain range of motion
  • Engaging in supervised and home-based exercises gradually increases your ability to weight-bear over time
  • Recommencement of sporting activity when at 80% of pre-injury strength and range of motion. This will usually not be sooner than 6 weeks and may require follow up for up to 12 months

Sporting related muscle injuries

Muscles injuries account for 30% of all injuries reported, such as the calf and hamstrings. Delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) is another example of muscle injury. Muscle injuries should be treated by:

  • Protection of the area causing pain. This usually involves resting the area concerned, with controlled active pain free movements to maintain joint range of motion.
  • Early assessment and mobilisation of the injured limb, with the use of manual therapy,  enables pain free activity that facilitates recovery
  • Depending on the severity of the injury, you may require a multidisciplinary rehabilitation plan, including physiotherapists, sports physicians, or surgeons

Healthier Feet, Healthier You