Fall Sports Peak Time for Lower Leg Damage

SATURDAY, Sept. 27 (HealthDay News) -- People who play football and other fall sports are at increased risk for lower extremity injuries and need to take precautions to protect themselves, says the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA).

"Stress fractures of the foot, ankle sprains and ligament injuries are all, unfortunately, quite common in popular fall sports such as football," Dr. David Davidson, podiatric medical consultant for the Buffalo Bills of the National Football League, said in an APMA news release. "From maintaining proper conditioning to wearing sport-specific footwear, athletes can function at peak performance much more often when constantly maintaining high levels of footwear safety."

Sprains, fractures and turf toe are among the most common acute injuries suffered by people playing fall sports.

Sprains (stretched or torn ligaments) can be caused by hard sprinting. Prevention includes doing proper warm-up exercises before and after workouts, practices and games. Spend five to 10 minutes stretching, holding and relaxing muscles. Sprains that don't show improvement in three days should be looked at by a doctor. Treatment may include casting, immobilization and a rehabilitation program, the APMA said.

Casting, and sometimes surgery, is required to properly immobilize fractures and set breaks. It usually takes 10 to 12 weeks to recover. You can reduce your risk of stress fractures (incomplete fractures in bones typically caused by overuse) by wearing sport-specific footwear that contains extra padding.

Turf toe is a painful hyperextension of the big toe joint. Competing on artificial turf is the leading cause of this condition, but it can also occur on grass and other natural surfaces, the APMA said. Customized foot orthotics can help protect against turf toe and wearing a stiffer shoe can prevent further aggravation of the condition. Treatment of turf toe usually includes rest, ice, compression and elevation (RICE).

More information

The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons has more about foot and ankle injuries.

SOURCE: American Podiatric Medical Association, news release, September 2008

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