Concerned by the rising number of ankle injuries in athletes of all ages, the Illinois Athletic Trainers Association (IATA) and physicians at Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush (MOR) have created a prevention program to help stop ankle injuries from occurring. While most common ankle injuries for athletes are usually sprains or fractures, there have been a rising number of patients with Achilles injuries, according to the National Institutes of Health. The Achilles is a band of fibrous tissue that connects the calf muscles to the heel bone. It can become painful after overuse and tear from too much force.
MOR foot and ankle surgeons reported a nearly 300 percent increase in Achilles patients over a ten-year period (from 2003 through 2014).
Because of this, MOR physicians, who treat many competitive and professional athletes, joined forces with the IATA to launch “Ankles for Life”, a public awareness program to provide athletes of all ages the tools to incorporate ankle injury prevention tactics into their workout and warm-up routines.
“I am concerned about the escalating number of athletes who come to see me with ankle injuries – especially Achilles tendon injuries or ruptures,” says Dr. Johnny Lin, MOR foot and ankle orthopedic surgeon. “I believe it is partly because of stiffer competition today causing athletes to push themselves to higher levels, which can result in added stress to the joints, tendons and ligaments.”
“Feet and ankles bear the burden of weight for the whole body and with so many athletes playing all year round, the ankle gets lot of wear and tear and this can result in Achilles injuries,” says Dr. Simon Lee, MOR foot and ankle orthopedic surgeon.
Although Achilles tears and ruptures can occur in all age groups, Dr. Lee admits the fastest growing patient population is active people between age 30 and 50.
Dr. George Holmes, Director of the MOR Foot and Ankle Section, agrees. “The fastest growing group seems to be the middle age weekend warriors who are staying active longer and doing more aggressive activities on weekends.”
Matt Munjoy, MHA, ATC, IATA President, admits that weekend warriors often don’t do enough to prevent ankle injuries. “They don’t take the time to stretch or strengthen the tendons surrounding the ankle,” he adds.
“The foot and ankle, which withstand a lot of pressure from the body, are areas most likely to be overlooked by athletes,” explains Dr. Kamran Hamid, MOR foot and ankle surgeon. “The good news is that proper injury prevention and strengthening exercises can make a big difference in keeping athletes’ feet and ankles healthy.”
To combat ankle overuse, MOR physicians and IATA members recommend that athletes cross train with non-weight bearing sports, like cycling or swimming; always use proper techniques; get adequate rest after a workout and perform ankle balance, stretching and strengthening exercises. Examples of these exercises can be found at www.anklesforlife.org in both a downloadable brochure and video format. The website also includes background on the most common foot and ankle injuries, treatment options and information on how to order complimentary gym bag tags with ankle injury prevention tips.
Click here for Injury Prevention Exercises for Athletes:
About Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush
Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush (MOR) offers comprehensive, unparalleled, orthopedic services. MOR physicians are team physicians for the Chicago Bulls, Chicago White Sox, and the Chicago Fire Soccer club. They are known for treating patients with orthopedic conditions, ranging from the most common to the most complex. The group’s reputation as a leader in specialized orthopedic patient care, education and research has been recognized by many national publications. U.S. News & World Report ranks the orthopedic program at Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, as No. 4 in the nation and it is the highest ranked program in Illinois. MOR has offices at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago; Oak Park; Westchester; Winfield; and Northwest Indiana. For more information or to make an appointment, visit www.rushortho.com. Follow us on Twitter @mor_docs.