Summer is here, and it’s shaping up to be a hot one. But that won’t keep us from getting outside and swimming, or enjoy the incredible hiking and walking trails around Massapequa, or even hitting the great Long Island biking trails all around us. Now, activities like these are what makes this one of our Massapequa podiatrists’ favorite seasons. Unfortunately, though, the more active we get—especially after a long, cold winter and a wet spring—can increase our risk for summer sports injuries. And that’s because your muscles may have lost both strength and flexibility while you were bingeing Netflix on the couch. So want to protect your feet and ankles from the most common sports injuries of the season? Let’s explore the risks, and then we’ll tell you how to prevent problems or treat any injuries that do develop. 

Understanding the Most Common Summer Sports Injuries Person clutching foot in pain

During summer, muscles that have grown less used to activity during the long winter months suddenly dive feet first into all the season’s favorite activities. In turn, Dr. Novneet Chhabra and Dr. Mark Gasparini see many more of these injuries in July and August. 

1.    Foot and Ankle Sprains (and Strains.)

Not sure about the differences between a sprain and a strain? While these injuries sound the same, they actually describe similar damage, to different structure in your body. You see, if you suffer a foot or ankle sprain, that means you’ve overstretched or torn your ligaments. In contrast, a strain describes sustaining the same damage in your tendons or muscles. 

But why are sprains and strains such common summer sports injuries? It’s related to the ways in which we enjoy the season. You see, when you’re more active, whether you’re playing pickleball or trying to get into a daily running groove, you’re more likely to take a wrong step and roll your ankle, leading to sprains or strains. Plus, more hikes and walks gives you more chances to trip and get hurt, increasing your risk for both forms of injury. 

2. Inflammation, bone cracks and more

Overuse injuries just happen more often in summer, and that’s because many of us tend to get active daily, or to suddenly ramp up our activity levels. Of course, that’s a good thing for our seasonal memory books—and possibly for our waistlines—but it also increases your risk for concerns such as plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendon pain, stress fractures and more. 

3. Broken bones

During the summer, all of us—but kids especially—are spending less time sitting and more time running around, playing sports and jumping into pools, lakes and oceans. In turn, this leads to missteps and accidents that can leave you with a broken foot, toe, or ankle. And if that happens? Your best case scenario is spending a few weeks in a cast. But your worst case outcome is suffering a displaced or open fracture, which could leave you in need of surgery to repair your injury. So, for that reason, we work very hard to help our patients prevent these summer sports injuries. 

Prevent Sports Injuries All Summer Long

No injury is every completely preventable. But these tips from our Massapequa podiatrists can reduce your risk for seasonal sprains, strains, fractures and more.  

1. Ease into new activities 

As we mentioned, many of us spent the winter giving our muscles and bones a break from activity. And that may have led to a loss of muscle strength. So, if you want to avoid shocking your system—and sustaining an injury—don’t jump straight from your couch to a daily exercise routine. Instead, gradually ramp up your activity levels, allowing your bodies to adjust to the increased pressue to avoid painful injuries.  

2. Always get your stretch on 

Before (and after) your next tennis match, running session or any if your favorite summer sports, make sure to stretch out your muscles, ligaments and tendons. Tight muscles are more likely to become painfully inflamed, so regular stretching can help prevent summer sports injuries related to overuse. 

3. Be picky with your shoe choices

We want you to keep your feet covered all summer long. And, if you’re heading to the beach or the pool, it’s perfectly fine to put on a pair of slides or flip flops to reduce your risk for athlete’s foot or other fungal infections. But if you’re going to walk a lot, enjoy a run or play an active game? Ditch the sandals and put on a pair of supportive athletic foot wear in order to avoid sustaining an injury. 

4. Don’t overlook the importance of cross-training

Doing the same thing every day is boring—and, when it comes to exercise, it can increase your risk for an injury! You see, when you do the same workout daily, without giving your body a rest, you put undue pressure on the bones, muscles and ligaments that support that specific form of movement. So, to prevent injury to those structures, be sure to switch up your exercise routine regularly. Or, better yet…

5. Build rest days into your schedule

Feeling guilty about that secret wish to do nothing but sit by the pool today? Don’t! When you give yourself a rest day after engaging in strenuous physical activity, you allow your muscles to repair the microscopic damage they sustain during a workout. That allows you to build stronger muscles—and it helps you prevent summer sports injuries! However, if you do get hurt, we’re here to help you recover quickly, so that your whole summer won’t be spent on the sidelines.  

Healing Summer Sports Injuries in Massapequa

If you think you’ve sustained one of the injuries described in this post, stop all forms of exercise and rest your affected limb. Try elevating the injured foot or ankle and applying ice for 15-20 minutes, several times a day. If your pain improves within one or two days, you should be in the clear. But if not? It’s time to contact the office and request an appointment. We can accurately diagnose your injury with a physical exam or our in-house x-ray machine, helping you get prompt treatment and speeding up your recovery period! 

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