Hey, sports parent, have you ever seen your youth athlete come off the field complaining of heel or ankle pain somewhere that they didn't have before the game started?
You never saw an injury: they didn’t get hit, they didn’t twist an ankle, they didn’t fall. It may not have even bothered them during the game, but something is now hurting that wasn’t before. There may not be any swelling or even tenderness in the area that hurts.It’s not uncommon for something like that to occur. Many times, these early symptoms get ignored for too long, because they can play through for awhile; or they are prematurely confused as tendonitis or other overuse injuries, with much time and money wasted on expensive tests and interventions that attempt to treat the local symptoms, but miss the actual cause.Symptoms like these can be the fist sign there is weakness or movement impairment occurring elsewhere, remote to the location of pain. At Play On, we recognize patterns like this early, have seen them occur in a variety of running and cutting sport athletes. and understand that these can be harbingers of future injury, if not addressed appropriately.Recent examples have been in soccer, gymnastics, baseball, football, tennis, and basketball; but patterns like this can occur in any sport or activity that requires quick and frequent changes of direction, jumping, and running. If left unchecked, these athletes can eventually develop mechanical overuse changes at the tendons, muscles and bones of the foot and lower leg. They may even have motor control failures that lead to ankle sprains, fractures, or significant knee ligament injuries, that can end a season. We know approximately 70% of ACL tears are of this preventable nature, not due to direct trauma. And while we cannot prevent those trauma injuries, many of the warning signs to these overuse and motor control injuries can be found and addressed with a pre-season evaluation, before the first symptoms occur. Dr. Curtis tells a story about how her daughter played soccer for ten years, with no preventable injury. While many of her teammates were in tape and walking boots because of mechanical injuries, she had a symptom of outside ankle pain just a few times when coming off the field. I recognized it immediately as one of the precursor symptoms that can lead to further injury and gave her the appropriate exercises to manage the problem. I taught her what to watch for, and how to battle it back. The ankle symptom was reduced quickly, despite no direct intervention to the ankle, and she never ended up with an escalated injury.
Injury prevention is available … you just need to ask the right sources. >>>>> Dr. Marci Curtis, DPT owns and operates Play On Physical Therapy in Fishers, Indiana and is accessible via PlayOnPT.com for clinical referrals or direct access appointments.