Whether you’re on the softball field, the basketball court or on a morning run, injuries are part of any sport. To get you back in the game, we talked to Jeff Ferguson, the San Francisco 49ers’ head athletic trainer and VP of football operations, for some advice on bouncing back from injuries.
Throwing a shoulder out
Prevention is easier than rehab, Ferguson says. “We have our throwers ice post-practice, shoulder and the elbow.” If you’re in a softball league and you just finished playing a game, throw some ice on for 15-20 minutes to minimize inflammation.
Tennis Elbow (a.k.a. elbow tendinitis)
Ferguson recommends a good ice massage for five to seven minutes at a time, a compression sleeve for support and maybe some OTC anti-inflammatories (check with your doctor first). Focus on progression when you come back. “For our throwers, we start off with some 10-yard soft toss, make sure the technique is sound, then go 20, 30, and then route progression as he heals,” he says.
After 48 hours of RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation), go to work on mobility. “We’ll have players walking. Then have them go through dynamic warm-ups (low-intensity exercise like high knees, butt kickers) getting all the muscles firing without prolonging the injury,” Ferguson says. The activity affects more than your health, though. “Building confidence, that’s a key component. We don’t want there to be any hesitation when guys are coming back from injury.”
After 72 hours of RICE, focus on learning to use the ankle again. “Proprioception (the ability to balance without looking at your foot) is critical when you’re coming back from these injuries,” Ferguson says. For your ankle, do a single-leg balance, and have someone toss a ball to you while you’re balancing.
Jogger’s Heel (a.k.a. plantar fasciitis)
Massage the bottom of your foot by stepping on a frozen water bottle and moving your foot around. “You get the benefit of both the ice and the compression/massage.” And with all foot-related issues, check your shoes. “Shoes are such a simple fix.”
—by Billy Brown