Now that summer is officially in swing, it’s time to get outdoors and enjoy all the best activities of the season, like hiking, biking, swimming and more. Of course, after the long, wet winter and spring, we’re all ready to get active outside…at least, in our heads. Unfortunately, our bodies may not be as primed for the increase in activity level, having lost some flexibility and strength, so we could face an increased risk for summer sports injures. Want to enjoy fun in the sun all season long? Stick with your podiatrists in Medford, OR, as we highlight the biggest injury risks of the summer, offering tips for both prevention and treatment, if you end up in trouble. 

What are the Most Common Summer Sports Injuries? A group of people playing beach volleyball at sunset

Before we teach you how to protect your feet from aches, pains and injuries this season, it’s important to know the risks you face. Here are the top 3 summer sports injuries seen in our Southern Oregon podiatry practice

1.    Sprains and strains of the foot and ankle.

As we get outdoors and play more actively, or hit rocky or branch-filled trails, our risk for sprains (involving the ligaments in your foot or ankle) or strains (affecting tendons or muscles) increases. These injuries are common when you misstep or roll your feet, stretching or tearing internal supportive structures and leaving you in pain. 

2. Stress fractures, plantar fasciitis and more.

Overuse injuries such as Achilles tendinitis, plantar fasciitis and even stress fractures are more common in summer. Why is that the case? The days are longer, we’re more active, and so it’s more likely that we’ll suddenly increase the intensity or duration of exercise. And, while that can be lots of fun in the moment, it can also put undue pressure on specific structures in your feet and ankles, leading to injury. 

3. Foot and Ankle Fractures

We already mentioned that trips and falls could increase your risk for sprains and strains. But falling injuries also increases your odds of breaking a bone in your toes, feet or ankles. And, if that happens, you could spend summer in a cast or walking boot, or you might even need corrective surgery in order to ensure that the bones heal properly. 

How to Prevent Sports Injuries This Summer 

If you want to protect yourself from fractures, overuse injuries and sprains or strains, consider these your new rules for summer. 

1. Take it slow when it comes to new activities. 

Summer is long, even it seems to fly by. For that reason, you can ease yourself into new activities, or forms of exercise you haven’t tried in a long time. And that’s important, because easing into more intense physical activities gives your muscles, bones, ligaments and tendons a chance to adjust to their new workload, helping them adjust and build strength without developing an injury. 

2. Never forget to stretch.

Daily stretching, both before and after you engage in physical activity, can help prevent injuries, pain and inflammation. For best results, avoid static stretches and incorporate movement while you warm up and cool down your muscles. 

3. Pay attention to your shoes

Summer sports injuries are more likely to be a problem if you spend the entire season in flip flops. While these easy slides can protect your feet from plantar warts or from getting an athlete’s foot infection at the pool, they offer little to no arch support. For that reason, leave these sandals in your pool or beach bag and choose supportive athletic shoes when you’re engaging in athletic activity this summer. 

4. Switch up your routine

Variety is the spice of life—and one of the keys to preventing summer sports injuries. So, instead of running every day, try biking one day, swimming the next, and then heading out for a job. And, for added injury prevention, try and add some strength training to the mix, to build up the muscles that support all your favorite activities of the season. 

5. And don’t forget to rest

As the official season of vacations and staycations, summer is a great time to build rest days into your busy schedule. Try and skip intense workouts at least one day a week, so that your body can repair any minor damage incurred during the other busy days of your break. And, if there’s any chance you may have sustained an injury while enjoying the summer fun, make sure to take a complete break from all physically strenuous activities, and began following our full-recovery protocol. 

The Right Way to Heal Those Summer Sports Injuries 

At the first sign of pain or a potential injury, get off your feet right away and practice RICE (the famous acronym for Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation.) For minor injuries, these simple steps could help you recover and resolve your pain fairly quickly. 

But what should you do if your pain doesn’t improve in a day or two? Or if you notice sharp pain, swelling, redness or changes to the shape of your foot or ankle? Don’t waste time trying to treat the problem at home—you could end up worsening an existing injury. Instead, come into the office right away. (You can request an appointment online, or call Dr. Devin Dimond and Dr. Evan Merrill at 541-776-3338. When you come in, we can provide a physical exam, x-rays and any other diagnostic tests you need to accurately diagnose the cause of your summer sports injury. And, from there, we can come up with a treatment plan to get you back on your feet and enjoying all the fun this season has to offer!  

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