Thursday, April 23, 2009

Sports Related Stress Fractures

Okay, so it is May, and you are considering how much exercise you will have to do in the next 30 days to make up for the first four months of inactivity in order to still achieve your New Year’s resolutions. As you begin your exercise routine, you must consider the extra stress that your body is going to be subjected to and that any injury can easily place you on the couch planning next year’s resolutions. Common injuries I see this time of year are stress fractures in the feet, which already take a pounding everyday just from normal activity. Unlike typical fractures, there is not a single traumatic event causing them and many times a patient has no clue that any serious injury has occurred.

I see stress fractures as a source of pain and discomfort quite regularly. A stress fracture begins with the overuse or the over training of a muscle. This overuse causes the muscle to tire and transfers stress on to nearby bones, causing tiny fractures. Sports injuries related to stress fractures are most common. Studies have shown that the repeated pounding of the foot on hard surfaces involved in tennis, basketball, volleyball, and long distance running, make these sports the leading causes of stress fractures. I do not want to discourage the use of these activities, but there are steps you can take to increase strength and at the same time minimize injury.

The first step in preventing sports related stress fractures is to take it slow when you are first ramping up your routine. You want to make sure you gradually increase intensity and time of activities. A good way to do this is to plan out an entire routine before beginning. .Along with this you want to make sure you use the proper shoes for each activity. (Your basketball shoes should not serve as your running shoes).

You cannot build a house without a solid foundation. Similarly, your feet, and the support you give them, are the solid foundation you need for your exercise routine. Along with the shoes, the arch supports you add to them add to the foundation. There are different degrees of arch support. The simplest and cheapest are the ones you can purchase from the pharmacy or shoe store. Next, are Powersteps that offer more support, but generally only last 6-12 months. For the most support, you must see a trained podiatrist for a custom orthotic that will last for years.

If all you need is a little extra padding, I recommend pads that can be applied to the insole of the shoe or directly to the foot. They provide extra cushion by offloading the areas of your foot that receive the most pressure. Typically, it is best to build up the area adjacent to the callusing, not directly on top of it. You can always move it around to see what feels best.

If ankle pain is an issue you may need to look into some bracing devices, such as the Swedo Ankle Lok Brace. This brace is great for support while participating in sports. There are a variety of braces, so you want to find one that is right for your sport and activity level. Lastly, to combat the muscle soreness and the aches and pains that come with waking your muscles from hibernation, I recommend Biofreeze. It is a liniment, like Icy-hot or Ben-gay, but my patients rave about this product and its effectiveness.

When beginning your routine, it is always recommended to consult a physician. For the most effective prevention and treatment of foot and ankle injuries it is best to schedule an appointment with your podiatrist.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Homer Simpson’s kind of Marathon

Typically, when someone tells me they are about to run in a race, I am impressed by the person’s discipline and dedication to improvement. However, this marathon takes the cake (or the doughnut as it may be). The race is called the Krispy Kreme Challenge, and it has become a yearly staple in North Carolina.

Started by NC State college students, the participation has grown from 12 college kids in 2004 to over 5000 in 2009. With participants ranging from the seasoned marathoner to the college student who has been training hard with late night beer and pizza, this race attracts all kinds of runners. The proceeds are donated to a children’s hospital in North Carolina.

The race begins at 9 AM normal enough with a 2 mile jog to the Krispy Kreme store. This is where the race takes a turn for the worse. At this point, runners must indulge themselves with a dozen doughnuts. So with doughnuts engulfed, the final leg of the race is an agonizing 2 mile sprint back to the finish line (and maybe more importantly the port-a-john). Sound bad enough yet, well to make it worse you must finish in less than an hour. That is 2 miles of highway I would not want to be responsible for cleaning

If you're trying to slim down, do not attempt this race. A dozen Krispy Kremes packs on 2400 calories, while running for an hour will only burn between 580 and 740. Not to mention the months or maybe years of training that would be required in order to be able to eat 12 doughnuts at one time in just a few minutes. I would think you would have to train like a competitive eater just to figure out how to ingest this much. Do you dip them in water? Do you smoosh them together? That sounds like competition enough, but to still have to run 2 miles afterwards is not my idea of endurance training.