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Sports-Specific Injuries

Running
Both endurance and sprint training lead to overuse leg injuries, the most common of which are iliotibial band syndrome, plantar fasciitis, metatarsalgia, Achilles and tibial tendinitis, and shinsplints. Sprinters frequently suffer hamstring sprains. Knee pain can also be common; runner's knee is patellofemoral syndrome; patellar tendinitis or jumper's knee can also be problematic. Meniscus injuries can occur from running on uneven terrain. Bursitis of the pelvis, hips, and knees can occur also as an overuse injury. Shinsplints are overuse injuries also associated with improper foot alignment in the shoe and also lower leg weakness. Morton's neuromas, tarsal tunnel, and bunions and blisters can also occur frequently in women due to improper shoe size worn while running and uncomfortable-fitting dress shoes. Compartment syndrome and stress fractures are the most serious running injuries. Eating disorders are more common in runners who desire to maintain an ultra-light frame.

To prevent running injuries: Conditioning should include hip, knee, and lower leg, ankle, and foot strengthening three times weekly, with stretching daily. A stretch-out strap or rope is recommended to promote optimum hamstring, calf, and foot flexibility. Proper shoe fit, arch support, and cushioning can also prevent shinsplints and foot pain. Shoes should be replaced every 300 miles in frequent runners, and rotated through two pairs if running is done daily. Banked running surfaces should be avoided, or running directions alternated if unavoidable. Adequate fluid and nutritional intake is essential for optimum performance and best health. The diet should contain recommended amounts of calcium to protect the bones and iron to prevent anemia.

Tips to Prevent Running Injuries

  • Shoes should be replaced every 300 miles.
  • Shoes should have adequate arch supports.
  • Avoid uneven and banked running surfaces.
  • Stretch after running.
  • Do toe curls and calf stretches daily.
  • Ice after a run if you have pain and take a day or two off until it feels better.
Scuba Diving/Snorkeling
It has been speculated that women are more susceptible to decompression sickness, but this is still under debate. Pregnancy is a contraindication to diving. Injuries are not frequently reported but are often secondary to equipment, marine life, and terrain. Hypothermia is a concern.

To prevent scuba diving injuries: Knowledge of terrain and equipment is most vital. Scuba diving should never be done alone. Having proper vision, swimming skills, and wet suits will prevent many injuries.

Skating
Figure skaters, like dancers, can suffer from back pain due to spondy, sprain, and disc injury. Thigh pain due to hamstring sprains and adductor tears and pulls can be chronic. Knee pain is also common secondary to bursitis or ligament sprains. Achilles tendinitis, foot tendinitis, and chronic injuries can also be problematic; even blisters can lead to other problems as position changes for pressure relief. Collisions, falls, and jumping and landing can result in fractures of the ankle, tibia, distal radius, femur, and patella, along with wrist sprains, shoulder separations, and knee and wrist ligament tears. Head injuries also occur. Figure skaters are at high risks for eating disorders and stress fractures.

To prevent skating injuries: Core strengthening should be done three times weekly, along with leg and knee strengthening. Flexibility is crucial, and stretching should be done daily. Proper technique will also prevent injuries. Skates should fit perfectly and not cause pressure on any one area of the foot or ankle. Rest is essential, as is adequate nutrition and calorie intake. Addressing injuries early is very important to prevent the injury from becoming chronic or causing other problems.

Skiing
Skiing is notorious for knee injuries. ACL injuries occur more frequently in women. Meniscus and collateral ligament sprains and tears can also occur, along with patellar dislocations. Falls and caught poles can cause skier's thumb (a ligament tear) and shoulder injuries. Traumatic injuries include fractures of the arm, shoulder dislocations and separations, and thigh, pelvic, thumb, and wrist fractures. Collisions with other skiers, objects, and ski and lift equipment raises the risk of traumatic injuries. Environmental hazards include terrain, trees, tree wells, and ice; deep, heavy snow can increase knee injury risks also. Head injuries can be deadly. Traumatic injury risks decrease with Nordic and cross-country skiing.

To prevent skiing injuries: Quadriceps and hamstring strengthening should be done three times weekly. Core strengthening and balance drills help prevent falls. Equipment suited to skill level with bindings adjusted to release properly is crucial to injury prevention. Skiing within your skill level and being aware of terrain and conditions that might be threatening such as ice, poor visibility, or avalanche risk is essential. Helmets are advised, especially if tree skiing. Tree wells must be avoided. Nutrition is important, with adequate calorie and fluid intake; iron should also be adequate to prevent the anemia documented in female skiers. In skiing and mountain sports, heed the rule of threes: most injuries are likely to occur on the third day, after 3 p.m. and over 3,000 feet.

INJURY PREVENTION: Listen to your body and rest when you are tired—skiing injuries occur more often at the end of the day when you are tired.

Snowboarding
Because of the daring nature of flips, jumps, and obstacle riding, traumatic injuries occur most in freestyle snowboarding. Common injuries are to the wrist and forearms including sprains, tendon tears, and fractures. Shoulder dislocations, chest injuries, rib fractures, and head injuries can also occur. Snowboarder's ankle is a fracture of the top of the ankle, most often caused by a fall.

To prevent snowboarding injuries: Knowing your terrain and riding within your limits is most important to prevent serious injuries. Abdominal and core strengthening can prevent falls. Educated falling with arms in, not outstretched, will prevent shoulder separations and dislocations, along with wrist and arm fractures. Helmets should be encouraged to prevent head injuries, due to the likelihood of backward falls. Tree wells must be avoided.



More on: Sports

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From The Active Woman's Health and Fitness Handbook by Nadya Swedan. Copyright © 2003 by Nadya Swedan. Used by arrangement with Perigee, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

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