Are You Developing a Sports Injury? 3 Signs to Tell

Some sports injuries make their presence very well known. You take a hard hit or fall, you maybe hear a pop or crack, and your foot or ankle is suddenly in a lot of pain. You know you may have a fracture or sprain in need of help.

But not all sports injuries are like that. The onset of overuse injuries – when your body is experiencing stress or strain in excess of what it is currently conditioned to handle – can come so gradually that you may not be certain whether the symptoms you are feeling are from a developing injury or the natural effects of working out. 

Uncertainty can be a considerable danger when it comes to sports injuries, because the longer a problem goes unaddressed, the more likely it is to become worse and longer-lasting. You can easily put yourself in a proverbial “frog in a pot” situation, where the problem slowly becomes worse but you don’t necessarily recognize it.

We don’t want you to be paranoid when it comes to exercise by any means, but being mindful of your body can go a long way toward preventing injuries and future complications. Here are some signs that you may be developing an overuse injury.

injured soccer player with ball on football field

Your Pain and Symptoms Become Consistent

The pain from an overuse injury does not need to be constant, but it can be consistent enough that you expect it to happen.

Not all conditions will cause symptoms to occur at the same time. Pain from plantar fasciitis, for example, maybe most prevalent after exercise or when you get your feet out of bed in the morning. Pain from stress fractures, on the other hand, tends to be at its worst during activity and recedes with rest.

Some mild inflammation and soreness can be a perfectly natural result of a workout, but it tends to go away after 48 hours and is not typically tied to specific times and situations. If you begin steadily dreading certain times of the day or certain actions because you know pain or discomfort is coming, that’s a warning flag of something not being right.

You Have No Signs of a Direct Injury

Persistent or significant pain without taking some form of hard-hit is often a sign that something needs to change!

It may be easy to pass off pain and other symptoms as nothing to be too concerned about if you don’t recall any direct injury – but that does not mean your body has not experienced trauma.  

When it comes to overuse, the injury may develop relatively quickly if you are suddenly forcing yourself to go all-out in intensity. But in other cases, the injury can gradually develop through the toll of repetitive impacts on your feet or ankles without providing your body enough chance to rest.

As we stress and challenge our bodies, we break them down on a cellular level. When we rest, our bodies recover and build back stronger, able to endure more of a challenge. But when that breakdown outpaces the body’s opportunities and abilities to recover, tissues and bones can weaken to the point of developing tiny tears or cracks. The more you push forward without addressing these tears or cracks, the worse they can become.

Your Performance is Starting to Become Affected

You might have continued to push through pain or take minor steps to address the symptoms because it didn’t really feel too bad or wasn’t having an effect on your actual performance. Unfortunately, in many cases, it’s only a matter of time before the condition becomes severe enough to impact your abilities. The pain might become too much, or you might find yourself becoming fatigued more easily.

By this time, it should definitely be clear that you have a sports injury in need of treatment. If you let the matter remain unaddressed by this point, the next step is often chronic pain, even when you’re at rest.

Ideally, however, you want to avoid ever reaching either of these points in the first place. Please never hesitate to schedule an appointment with us when you have any concerns whatsoever about a persistent or substantial foot or ankle pain – even when it’s not (yet) affecting your activity levels. 

Signs of Overuse Injury in Children

Overuse injuries can happen in children just as easily as they do in adults. The difference is that a child might not always be so forthcoming in expressing their symptoms. They might be afraid of needing treatment, or they may simply not yet understand the pain isn’t normal.

In addition to not seeing any sign of direct injury recently, other potential signs of overuse or other painful foot or ankle problems in your child can include:

  • Lagging behind in activities such as taking walks, soccer, or anything requiring frequent movement.
  • Consistently wanting to end activities early, especially if they have previously loved them.
  • Asking to be picked up and carried more often, or after an increasingly shorter amount of time.

Get Treatment for Overuse Injuries Sooner, Not Later

If you suspect you have an overuse injury – or aren’t yet sure – do not hesitate to contact Southern California Foot and Ankle Specialists. We can help you determine what might be going on in your feet and ankles, and recommend a route of treatment that can help you find relief and stay moving.

Even if the problem ends up being minor, it’s always best to get to the root of what has been causing it. That way, we can make changes and provide preventative care to greatly reduce your risk of similar or worse conditions happening in the future.

Schedule an appointment at our Ladera Ranch office by calling (949) 364-9255 (WALK) or by filling out our online contact form. We’ll be happy to see you.

Contact Us

Robert Spencer, DPM

Nitza Rodriguez, DPM

Han Nguyen, DPM

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333 Corporate Drive, Suite 230, Ladera Ranch, CA 92694
Tel: (949) 364-9255 (WALK)
Fax: (949) 364-9250
Office Hours:
Monday - Friday: 9am - 5pm
*(Lunch 12 noon - 1pm)