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Friday, September 25, 2015

When Good Exercise Goes Bad, Part 2

Common Sports Injuries and How To Avoid Them

By  Dr. Jon Thomas D.C PSc.D, Board Certified Chiropractic Physician.

Courtesy Pixabay
As I mentioned in my previous blog post, exercise is generally a healthy activity. However, if exercises aren’t done correctly, injuries can result. Overuse and strain cause the most common sports related injuries. Repetitive activity can cause wear and tear on the ankles, knees, shoulders, and elbows.
In my previous post, I mentioned some of the most common injuries related to exercise and provided tips on how to avoid them. Running causes more injuries than any other exercise. Other common exercises that can cause injuries include biking, dance (including high impact aerobics), tennis, basketball, gymnastics, football, soccer, and skating.
Here are a few more common injuries related to exercise.

Shin Splints

Shin splints are pains in the muscles near the shins. Running is the most frequent cause of shin splints. Shin splints are also common for people who spend long periods of time on their feet, such as dancers, athletes, and soldiers. Shin splints are most commonly caused by running and jumping on hard surfaces. People who are unaccustomed to rigorous exercise can suffer from shin splints. People who routinely exercise may also experience shin splints when they switch shoes, run on harder surfaces, or increase the intensity of their workout.
Courtesy Wikimedia
The muscle responsible for raising the arch of the foot attaches to the shin bone on the inner side of the middle third of the shin. The foot arch collapses with each foot strike, pulling on the tendon that comes from this muscle. When this happens repetitively, the arch pulls muscle fiber from the shin bone. There is bleeding around the lining of the bone accompanied by pain.
The key to preventing shin splints is good arch support to prop up the foot and prevent excessive pull on the tendons. It’s very important to have good shoes and to warm up before exercising. Pay particular attention to stretching the calf muscles. Running on a surface softer than asphalt, like grass or cross country running trails, can help to prevent shin splints.

Achilles Tendonitis

The Achilles heel tendon is the largest tendon in the body. It is located in the back of the ankle. Achilles tendonitis is an inflammation of this tendon. Frequent jumping in basketball or volleyball can cause this form of tendonitis. The pain from a torn Achilles tendon can feel like a gunshot in the leg.
When Achilles Tendonitis occurs, the first step to healing is to minimize physical activity and strenuous exercise until it feels better. Icing the affected tendon several times a day can provide relief. When a person with Achilles tendonitis begins to feel better, he or she can slowly return to gently stretching the tendon. Then the person can progressively return to normal exercise. 

Foot Arch Pain

Courtesy Wikimedia
The plantar fascia is an elastic covering on the sole of the foot. It is a shock-absorbing pad which holds up the arch. When it becomes inflamed, the condition is called plantar fasciitis. It causes a dull ache along the length of the arch.
Plantar fasciitis is due to over-stretching or partially tearing the arch pad. People with rigid and high arches experience this condition most frequently. When they put weight on their feet or push off for the next stride, they feel pain. The pain can be particularly intense upon arising in the morning or after sitting for a period of time.
Good arch support prevents the arch from collapsing and the plantar fascia from stretching. Arch supports can even be placed in slippers and worn as soon as a person rises in the morning. Going barefoot without support can stretch the plantar fascia in just a few steps. Arch supports can relieve the pain of plantar fasciitis within a few days.
Maintaining a healthy weight, doing warm-up exercises, and good arch support are the keys to avoiding foot injuries. If there is an injury, low impact exercises are best while the foot is recovering. It’s important to give the foot arch adequate time to heal before returning to strenuous exercise.

Stress Fractures

Stress fractures are tiny hairline fractures or cracks that occur in weight-bearing bones, like the femur and tibia. This type of injury can occur after intense and prolonged exercise. The best way to avoid stress fractures is to wear well-made athletic shoes that fit properly and provide effective support and cushioning. Rather than doing too much exercise too fast, gradually increasing the intensity of workouts will help to avoid excessive stress on the bones.

Rotator Cuff

Rotator cuff muscles hold the shoulder together and enable the shoulder to move with precision. These shoulder muscles are called supraspinatus, infraspinatus, subscapularis, and teres minor. Shoulders have shallow sockets and lack ligament strength. Weakness in the rotator cuff muscles enables the head of the shoulder to slide around in the joint.
Sports like softball, tennis, volleyball, swimming, and weight lifting require arm motions above the head. Tennis players may feel this pain when they serve or hit an overhead smash. Golfers may feel it in the backswing and/or follow-through. When the shoulder joint and rotator cuff are stressed from these motions, the rotator cuff muscles stretch out. They become inflamed and cause joint pain.
When shoulder joint pain lasts longer than a few days, a program of range-of-motion exercises can help strengthen the rotator cuff muscles. Strengthening these muscles helps hold the shoulder firmly in place. The head will have less of a tendency to slip out of the socket and the tendons will no longer become inflamed. Treatment for rotator cuff injuries can include physical therapy, ultrasound, moist heat and electrical muscle stimulation. 

Avoiding Injuries

The best ways to avoid sports related injuries are to stay in shape, maintain a healthy weight, and avoid activities that might cause injuries. Staying in shape keeps your body stronger and flexible. Maintaining a healthy body weight prevents excessive stress on knees and ankles. Some hazards are associated with physical activity, but being careful keeps the risk to a minimum.
Chiropractic care is important for athletes of all levels. Concentrating on joint alignment and motion is one of the keys to reducing injuries and reducing recovery times from workouts. Chiropractors are able to address issues throughout the body. This includes the extremities like arms and legs.
Proper equipment is also very important for avoiding injuries. Make sure that the gear you use is in good working order. If you have any doubts about your gear, take it to an expert and they will review and suggest any necessary improvements.
In this article, I have discussed common sports injuries and how to avoid them. The injuries I’ve included in this post are shin splints, Achilles tendonitis, foot arch pain, stress fractures, and rotator cuff injuries. I’ve included suggestions on how to avoid injuries and how to treat some of them when they occur.
If you know of someone who might benefit from the information in this blog, please pass it along to him or her. If you have a comment about this article, please leave it in the comments section.
At Vibrant Life, we address all of the key elements to add vibrance and vitality to your life. This includes nutrition, chiropractic care, and fitness. If you’re suffering from a sports related injury or if you need to consult with a chiropractor about your exercise regimen, please contact our office to set up an appointment. 
Dr. Jon Thomas is a Board Certified Chiropractic Physician, his interest in health started at an early age resulting from an athletic life, including BMX racing, Professional Snow Skiing, Water Skiing, Baseball, Weight Lifting, and Martial Arts. After learning from top health experts in the world, Dr. Thomas’s life is dedicated to reaching people of all ages to begin their life transformation. The goal is to start the body healing resulting in a body that is functioning at its optimal.  In addition to serving his community in his Mandarin Based Practice, Dr. Thomas is seen regularly on TV’s First Coast Living talking about his patient’s transformations, speaking at events throughout the community, and writing articles to re-shape the health of the Jacksonville Community.


  1. Too many people either overdo it when exercising, or they do the wrong exercises. The most important thing to consider when choosing any exercise regimen is age. Like it or not our bodies need lower impact exercises once we go beyond age 40. Trying to act like a teenager will only get you hurt.

  2. As someone who has torn their Achilles heel tendon, it is no joke. I know I tend to not properly warm up when going to the gym and from time to time I injure myself from it. These are all good things to keep in mind since I'm not a young buck anymore.

  3. Preventative and pro-active care is the best defense against injuries for athletes of all ages!

  4. Good article! I had shin splints in high school. Now I know why it hurt so bad. No need for that in my life now.