Summer in Wisconsin is the perfect time to get outdoors and start enjoying all Wisconsin has to offer. Hiking, biking, running and walking are a few popular activities that help get people moving. While exercising is good for overall health and well-being, injuries can happen. Here are some of the most common injuries, as well as how to help prevent them.
Plantar fasciitis: Typically, no specific event causes plantar fasciitis, but it often results from a significant increase in activity. “People often feel foot pain after a long walk or hike, or when getting out of bed in the morning,” said Alex Kor, DPM, MS, podiatrist at Moorland Reserve Health Center and Tosa Health Center.
Plantar fasciitis is commonly mistaken for a heel spur, though Dr. Kor advises that usually isn’t the case. Approximately 30 to 40 percent of the general population has a heel spur on X-ray and yet feels no heel pain at all.
Sprains: Sprains, or “twisting your ankle,” can occur when there is injury to a ligament that helps maintain stability in an ankle or any joint. Most sprains improve with physical therapy, which will include a mix of balance, muscle coordination and strength exercise.
Think you have a sprain? Think RICE!
- REST and protect the injured area.
- ICE the area for 10-20 minutes, three times per day.
- COMPRESSION – Wrap the injured area with a bandage to reduce swelling.
- ELEVATE the injured area.
Ortho Now walk-in care clinics have orthopaedic specialists on-site to assess, diagnose and treat common conditions in patients 13 years of age and older. If the provider determines a specialist is needed, a referral will be expedited to a board-certified orthopaedic physician.
Bruised forefoot pain and stress fractures: The metatarsal bones, or one of the five long bones on top of the foot, are also at risk for injury due to increased activity. If one of these bones is bruised, people will often feel pain or swelling on the ball of the foot. A stress fracture, on the other hand, is felt on the top of the foot.
Arthritis: Previous injuries can lead to a build-up of arthritis, which affects nearly 25 percent of the population. Arthritis is more common in people over the age of 60 and affects twice as many women as men. Even seasoned athletes are prone to arthritis in ankles and toes, which can be debilitating and painful. “We now have advanced treatment options for people who want to be active again but have difficulty doing so because of arthritis,” said Brian Law, MD, FAAOS an orthopaedic surgeon who specializes in foot and ankle surgery. “Just like knees and hips, ankle replacements allow people to get back to the activities they enjoy, with faster recovery and pain relief.” Dr. Law was the first surgeon in Wisconsin to use Cartiva, an implant for arthritis in the big toe that provides pain relief without traditional fusion surgery. Patients using Cartiva can expect to be back to their daily activities within four to six weeks, usually with little to no pain.
Reducing your risk of injury
Don’t jump into activity: If you haven’t been recently active, work your way up to longer periods of exercise. If something doesn’t feel right, consider modifying your activity.
Research your destination: Trying a new hiking, walking or bike path? Do your homework. Know the terrain, distance you’ll be covering and length of time you’ll be active. This will help you properly prepare for your activity and reduce your risk of injury. Listen to your body and take breaks when you feel something is wrong.
Taking a trip where you’ll be walking a lot? Breaking in new shoes for three to five weeks before you leave is recommended. This allows your feet to get used to the structure of the shoe, eliminating the risk for blisters, discomfort and other injuries. “Think about prepping for a 5 or 10K marathon,” said Dr. Kor. "Build up the mileage on your walking shoes the same way you would for a big race."
Find the right shoe: Finding the right shoe is as important as being physically prepared for an activity,” Dr. Kor said. A shoe with good support is crucial to injury prevention. Test the support of a shoe by turning it over and bending it. If it bends easily in the arch, it doesn’t have enough support. Hiking should always be done in closed-toed shoes.
Stretch! Basic stretches before beginning an activity help the muscles warm up. For people in their 30s through 50s, the Achilles tendons, calf muscles and hamstrings tend to be the tightest muscles.