Track & Field Injuries in adolescents

As the Track and Field season kicks into high gear we are seeing more and more lower extremity injuries in our office in high school and college athletes.  Some of the most common injuries we are seeing are shin splints, plantar fasciitis, knee pain, ITB Syndrome, runners knee, and hip pain.  The most common cause of adolescent running injuries are; over training, poor bio-mechanics  lower crossed syndrome, incorrect footwear, lack of core strength and stability.  All of the above conditions if left untreated can lead to stress fractures anywhere from the spine down to the foot.

The body is a machine and it is designed to work synchronously when running is involved.  Normally the knees line up under the hips and above the ankle or foot.  There can be slight variations between boys and girls with girls being more prone to a little more angle at the knee due to the shape of the female pelvic bones.  When things don’t line up right and your running track & field, stress gets placed on different parts of the body that over time with the volume and intensity of track will lead to any of the above conditions.  Another cause of improper stability is a lack of core stabilization.  Today’s children’s posture is so poor that they have no core stabilization or flexibility, which when you are a track and field athlete is a recipe for injury.

How do you know the difference between muscle strain and injury?  Most injuries begin with some muscle pain or joint pain.  Normal aches and pains can be expected in the beginning of the season and after intense track workouts.  Pain that doesn’t go away after 2-3 days should be considered abnormal.  If a child continues to run with pain compensations happen throughout the body that can worsen the current injury or create a new one.

Below is a brief description of some of the conditions we see in our office, and in the Vassar College Athletic department where I have just finished my third season as the chiropractor and Active Release Techniques provider.

Plantar Fasciitis: pain  and swelling in the arch of the foot.  Cause: improper arch support, foot weakness.

Shin Splints: pain anywhere along the shin bone. Cause; stress reaction in the bone from overuse,  improper bio-mechanics

Achilles Pain:: pain in the tendon above the ankle.  Cause:  Tight calves and foot muscles, overuse, bio-mechanics

ITB Syndrome/ Runners Knee/ Patella Femoral Tracking Disorder: pain in the knee.  Cause: Bio-mechanics, lack of stability and overuse.

Piriformis Syndrome / Hip pain: Cause: Bio-mechanics, lack of stability,  and overuse.

Stress Fractures: stress fractures can occur anywhere in bones from the foot to the hip.  The most common are stress fractures of the foot,  followed by the lower leg, hip, pelvis, and spine.  Most stress fractures will prevent an athlete from running normally and will present with acute pain with running.  In the past few years we have seen more stress fractures in the femur and sacrum which mimic lower back pain.

The bottom line is that track & field is a highly intense and repetitive motion sport.  If your child is not bio-mechanically sound or is beginning to experience pain in their bodies they should be checked out by a sports medicine professional. In our office we use slow motion video gait analysis, and functional movement assessment to determine the underlying causes of most running injuries.   Most of the injuries when caught early can be corrected allowing the athlete to continue to participate in their sport.  If you wait too long to have something looked at, and your child is unable to run without pain, the injury  may lead to the athlete being shut down for a period of time for the injured area to heal,  and for the underlying problem to be identified and corrected.  Injuries that keep reoccurring are a sign that the real problem has not been identified or the proper treatment hasn’t been received.  A proper diagnosis needs to be found so the proper treatment and rehab program can be administered.  In our office we use ART to treat most soft tissue injuries, and corrective exercise prescription to address bio-mechanical deficiencies.  Most of our patients recover within weeks instead of months because of the speed in which ART treatment works, sometimes within 4-6 treatments over a few weeks.

Dr. Ness has been in private practice since 1988 with offices in New Paltz and Poughkeepsie.  He is the official chiropractor and Active Release Techniques provider for the Vassar College Athletic Dept, and the Hudson Valley  Triathlon club.  He has cared for hundreds of injured runners and triathletes from pro’s and elite age groupers to weekend warriors and beginners.  If your child has pain or an injury that hasn’t responded to treatment call us today at 845-255-1200,  or you can email Dr. Ness by filling out our contact form.