9 Tips to Prevent Sports Injuries - Iffie Okoronkwo, M.D.

9 Tips to Prevent Sports Injuries

Article Published by: southlakestyle.com

Many runners and athletes have experienced the frustration of a sports injury in their foot or ankle. Sports injuries can happen to all levels of athletes. Whether you are a beginner or an advanced athlete that enjoys running, aerobics, or High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) these 9 simple tips will help minimize the chances of a major injury!

1.Be honest with yourself.

If you wake up feeling like you were hit by a truck, take the day off! If you have pain that gets worse with running or activity – stop! You should never “train through pain.” You can substitute your activity with walking, water training, or bicycling if you still want to be active. Just be honest with yourself, and be kind to your body.

2.Learn your limits.

We see a lot of runners with stress fractures and other overuse injuries. The body is put under a lot of stress when you start ramping up your mileage. You can’t hurry “Love” or your body! Muscles and joints need time to adapt to an increase in intensity and mileage. If you rush things it causes an overload of strain on the body, and you will most likely end up with an injury. Slow down and follow the 10% rule – build up your weekly training by no more than 10% per week. If you were recently injured, don’t immediately try to get back into your pre-injury routine. Adjust your goals to your current state and move forward from there.

3. Balance your Muscles.

Strength training helps balance the body. The hips and core are the two biggest strength training areas. The hips are especially important because that’s what gives you overall leg stability. Try to keep your body symmetric and fluid when you run.

4.PRICE (Protect Rest Ice Compression Elevate).

Ice is your go to pain reliever! Whether a gel ice pack, a baggie filled with ice cubes, or a bag of frozen peas—ice is your best friend when something hurts! Compress with an ACE wrap, ankle brace, or knee brace as needed. Combining ice and compression with rest and elevation will get you back on your feet in no time!

5.Change up the surface.

Vary your surfaces! Try one day on the road, next on the track, then the treadmill another day, and mix it up on a trail if possible. Changing the surfaces you train on will decrease your chance of injury.

6.Check your stride.

Over-striding increases stress, so if you can shorten your strides you will soften the landing when you run. You will have to play with this, so try to run at your current stride and make it shorter by 10%. This will decrease your impact load.

7.Stretch it out.

Runners get hurt in the areas that tend to be tight – the hamstrings, calf muscles, and hip flexors. Hamstring and hip flexor flexibility is proven to aide in knee functions, and calf flexibility keeps the Achilles tendon and plantar fascia ligament strong. Do not use static stretches (holding an elongated muscle in a fixed position for 30 seconds or longer) before running! However, dynamic stretching can be done as a safe, effective pre-run warm-up.

8.Cross train.

Cross training improves muscle balance, which will help keep you injury free. Swimming, cycling, elliptical training, and rowing will burn a lot of calories and improve your aerobic fitness.

9.If the shoe fits.

Don’t just buy a shoe if you can squeeze your foot into it! Make sure it’s the right shoe for your foot type. Think about replacing your shoes every 300-400 miles. Consider custom inserts to help the form and function of your foot. The right pair of shoes and inserts can improve your stride just like a pair of eye-glasses might improve your vision!

Follow these steps and you will be on your way to injury free activities! If you find yourself with an injury in your foot or ankle, give us a call at Foot and Ankle Associates of North Texas! We will get you back on your feet and participating in your favorite activity!


Iffie Okoronkwo, M.D. is a Spine and Sports Rehabilitation Medicine and Pain Management physician at Manhattan Spine and Sports Medicine (http://www.manhattanmd.com/), a private practice based in New York City with 40 years of experience providing the finest expert medical care and services to patients around the world.

Dr. Iffie is board certified in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and, as a physiatrist, utilizes ultrasound guided injections, fluoroscopy guided injections, PRP, regenerative medicine, and more to evaluate and treat a variety of conditions affecting muscles, joints, ligaments, and nerves.