Spring's arrival generally signals a warming weather trend that usually motivates people to become more active, especially outdoors. Many high school and college athletes are on the cusp of re-starting their spring sport programs. Often, during the cold winter, our activity level generally reduces somewhat. During the winter, that inactivity, coupled with added food intake, often negatively affects our core. This combination, and our desire to regain that core, along with persistent cooler temperatures in early spring, often lends itself to the formation of overuse injuries of the lower extremities. These include, but are not limited to: muscle, ligament and tendon strains (Achilles, plantar fascia, and shin splints most common), and stress fractures of the metatarsal bones.
Here are some training tips to help reduce the chances of incurring an overuse lower extremity injury. If you were less active in winter, scale back your exercising and early spring outdoor workouts by 25%. Each ensuing 2 weeks, add 25% to your last routine until you reach your original workout regimen. This should take 4-6 weeks. If you have indoor aerobic equipment, utilize it to warm up for 5-10 minutes, then stretch your lower extremity muscles before stepping outside. Stretch again after completing your workout as part of your cool down. Allow adequate training time to slowly increase activity level when readying for a race, or major charitable event that involves aerobic activity.
Should you sustain a foot or lower extremity overuse injury, cross train to low impact activity immediately and consult your local podiatric sports medicine specialist. At FootCare Associates, in Hackettstown, NJ, our doctors are all board certified physicians who are well trained in diagnosing and treating overuse lower extremity injuries. Call us at (908) 852-0229 to learn how you can get the most out of your aerobic workouts, and what steps to utilize when attempting to return from injury.
By Barry Mullen