Fitness · Health

Medical Monday: Preparing for Battle Is Vital for Weekend Warriors

women weekend warriors

The good news is that women are becoming more physically active.

There has also been a significant increase in women’s participation in competitive sports, like soccer (we will most certainly see an additional increase in participation in this country in soccer due to the U.S. soccer team’s recent women’s World Cup victory—congratulations to them), tennis, road races, triathlons, Cross Fit competitions, obstacle races, even some indoor cycling classes and “boot camps” can become competitive. Exercise has tremendous health benefits and I encourage most of my patients to remain very active, unless they are overtraining. The bad news is that participating in a high-intensity activity can lead to injuries in those who have not done their physical homework before jumping in. Less-intense workouts, like yoga and Pilates, can even be risky if you push yourself beyond what your body is used to.

The most common sports-medicine-related injuries that occur in women that I routinely see in my practice as a sports physiatrist are lower body injuries that affect the ankles, knees and the hips. Low back pain is also very common, but happens to be prevalent in athletes and non-athletes alike. Upper body injuries to the shoulder and elbows are also common sports medicine injuries, but not nearly as common as the lower limb injuries.

 Most common injuries seen in women weekend warriors:

  1. Ankle sprains – present with pain and swelling at the outside of the ankle, typically around the lateral malleolus (bony bump), typically after turning or rolling the ankle.
  2. Knee pain – sprains of the ligaments around the knee occur, although less commonly than ankle sprains.  The most common knee injury that I see in active woman, especially runners, is patellofemoral syndrome.  This condition is a type of overuse injury that presents with pain in the front of the knee with such activities as running or going up and down stairs. The cause is believed to be due to poor alignment or tracking of the patella (knee cap) during physical activity.
  3. Strains of muscles, like the hamstring and groin muscles, are the next most common injuries I see in my practice. These injuries present with either pain in the buttocks or back of the thigh with hamstring injuries and pain in the groin with the latter. These injuries may occur acutely but are also very common sites of overuse injuries to the tendon known as tendinosis.
  4. Other common injuries include stress fractures to the bone in female endurance athletes and more serious knee injuries can occur as ACL tears, although it is the female adolescent and collegiate athletes who are at greatest risk for this injury.

When these injuries occur, rest is needed along with ice applications for acute injuries. Braces are often necessary to prevent additional injuries to the joint. Injuries that don’t quickly resolve on their own require a physician evaluation by a specialist with knowledge of sports injuries, like a physiatrist, primary care sports doctor or an orthopedist.

Next Page: Preventing an injury.

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  • Diane Dettmann August 3, 2015 at 5:54 pm

    Thank you Dr. Jame Wyss! I want to stay active for a long time. I appreciate your helpful suggestions.