Lower extremity injuries are the most common injuries in sports, with ankle injuries being the most common, followed by knee injuries. These injuries are related to running, jumping, cutting, direct contact, and the overall competitive dynamic nature of sports. These injuries include both acute traumatic injuries and chronic overuse injuries.
Common Sports Leg Injuries
Some common leg injuries that we treat include but are not limited to…
The Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) is one of the ligaments that attaches the femur (thigh bone) to the tibia (leg bone). It provides stability to the knee during everyday activities and especially activities that involve pivoting, cutting, or high-speed deceleration.
If you have spent any time around field or court sports, then there is a good chance that you have heard someone having an “ACL tear” and how significant its occurrence is; and with good reason: the typical rehab timeline for the return to a cutting/pivoting sport is usually in the ballpark of 9-12 months (after surgical reconstruction) or possibly even longer.
Shin splints are the most common running-related injury. Also called medial tibial stress syndrome (MTSS), shin splints are an overuse condition that causes shin pain. The pain typically spans about 2/3 the length of the shinbone and is increased during or after athletic activity (running, jumping, etc.).
The exact pathogenesis is not 100% understood at this point in time, but appears to be caused by the overloading of the shin bone or traction of a muscle irritating the shin. Other pathologies such as a stress fracture and exertional compartment should be ruled out by your healthcare practitioner.
The Posterior Cruciate Ligament (PCL) is one of the ligaments that attaches the femur (thigh bone) to the tibia (leg bone). It provides stability to the knee during sport and everyday activities.
Injury to the PCL typically occurs in sports from landing on your knee or direct impact to the front of the knee. Physical therapy is the first-line treatment for an isolated PCL tear; surgery is usually not recommended. Return to sport timelines for conservative management of a PCL tear is just above 16 weeks on average.
Patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFP) is characterized by diffuse pain that is felt around the knee cap. It may also be referred to as “Runner’s Knee” or “Anterior Knee Pain.”
People experiencing patellofemoral syndrome may suffer from knee pain as well as a cracking or popping sound when engaging the joint or muscles around it.
The Medial Patellofemoral Ligament (MPFL) is a ligament that provides stability to the knee. It is one of the primary stabilizers of the patella (knee cap). The MPFL is almost always torn with a first-time patella dislocation. If recurrent instability is experienced, surgical reconstruction may be recommended, followed by 6-12 months of physical therapy prior to return to sport competition.
A torn meniscus occurs when the meniscus is damaged, which can lead to various symptoms such as knee pain, or a sensation of catching, locking, or even popping in the joint.
Meniscus tears can occur for different reasons. Some tears develop gradually over time due to the natural aging process and wear and tear on the knee. Others result from sudden traumatic events, like sharp turns, hard landings, or impacts during sports activities. It’s important to note that surgery is not typically recommended for degenerative meniscus tears. Instead, the preferred approach is physical rehabilitation to manage the condition.
What Patients Are Saying
Dr. Shawn Herlong has helped me so much. I tore my adductor and hamstring and I was feeling so much better after the first session! He’s been helping me for a couple months and I’m so much better than I was before and way stronger. He’s the best physical therapist I’ve ever had and I would recommend him to anyone
Nothing but great things to say about the staff and environment. I went to Herlong Sports prior to and after my ACL surgery and have been walked through every step of the way for my knee rehab. The patience, empathy, and professionalism reflects in each patient they treat. I truly appreciate the attention to detail that the team demonstrates. I would definitely recommend seeing the staff here to get you feeling better
I tore my ACL and got recommended to this place. Shawn and his staff have been amazing to me and I’m already on the road to a great recovery. I love this place and definitely recommend it!!
Herlong Sports Physical Therapy is great! I started seeing them for a back injury after a friend’s recommendation. They explained all the exercises thoroughly and helped me understand why the injury may have occurred. Throughout the recovery process, they gave me a ton of movements to help strength and mobility to prevent reinjuring my back. I highly recommend going to Herlong if you ever need PT!
I have been to a few different physical therapy places in the past and just never got the attention that Herlong has given to me. From my first visit, I knew that I was in good hands. Herlong takes the time to listen to my concerns and adjust the treatment plan accordingly. I have only the highest praise for Herlong and would highly recommend them and their 1-on-1 approach
This is by far the best physical therapy you can choose. All the employees are extremely nice and friendly, and always welcome you with a smile. It’d be a HUGE mistake not to choose Herlong Sports Physical Therapy.
Herlong Sports Physical Therapy is great. Scheduling is really easy and my physical therapist was really knowledgeable and helpful. Overall everybody at the facility is really kind and I had a great experience. I would definitely recommend this place
Shawn and his team are knowledgeable and hardworking. I’ve been going there for about 3 months and have since worked on my core strength and tight back. My back no longer is giving me issues and my strength is improving to new personal records. I feel confident in their abilities to help clients achieve their goals. I’d recommend everyone to them!
Common Sports Foot Injuries
Some common foot injuries that we treat include but are not limited to…
Turf toe is an injury to the structures on the bottom side of the 1st Metatarsophalangeal joint (big toe) from the toe being forced into hyperextension (bent up). This may include a sprain to one of the ligaments or the joint capsule on the bottom side of the big toe, a fracture of one of the sesamoid bones, and/or strain of one of the muscles/tendons of the big toe.
Turf toe usually occurs when the toe gets forcefully bent upwards, which is common when getting tackled in football, or pushing off when running or cutting. Depending on the severity of the injury, rehab for turf toe may be anywhere from a few days to a year. Surgery may be required in severe cases.
Plantar fasciitis – also referred to as plantar heel pain or plantar fasciopathy – is characterized by heel pain on the bottom of the foot experienced when taking your first few steps in the morning or after sitting for a while, or from standing or walking for long periods of time.
The plantar fascia is made up of connective tissue and is located on the bottom of the foot. It provides stability and support to the foot during everyday tasks. The plantar fascia is stressed with weight bearing activities and activities that require you to push off with the foot.
Whether it be from rolling your ankle by stepping on someone’s foot or from an awkward tackle, ankle sprains are a very common athletic injury. In fact, ankle sprains are the most common lower extremity injury in sport, as well as the most common injury causing time loss from sport.
An ankle sprain is an overstretching or even tearing of one or more of the ligaments that support the ankle joint. Ankle sprains can be minor and cause just a day or two away from sport. They can also be more severe injuries that require surgery and several months away from sport.
Inversion or lateral ankle sprains are the most common type of ankle sprain. It is important to rule out a fracture when dealing with an ankle sprain; your healthcare provider will assess your ability to walk and palpate certain bones in your leg and foot to decide if an X-ray is warranted.
The Achilles tendon is the largest and strongest tendon in the body. It attaches the gastrocnemius/soleus complex (calf muscle) to the calcaneus (heel bone). When the calf muscle contracts it pulls on the Achilles tendon which pulls on the heel bone causing the toes to move downward, allowing you to push off the ground. This is common in activities such as running, jumping, and climbing stairs.
While you may hear this often referred to as Achilles tendonitis, the most appropriate term to describe Achilles tendon pain and loss of function is actually Achilles tendinopathy. Achilles tendonitis is a term used to describe an acute inflammatory process of the Achilles tendon, which is a normal response and part of the adaptation process. Achilles tendinosis is a term used to describe degeneration/tendon disorganization, which is actually common in both symptomatic and asymptomatic individuals. Thus, Achilles tendinopathy is the preferred term. Achilles tendinopathy is very common in individuals that run.
Leg & Foot Injury Treatment
If you are experiencing leg or foot pain, weakness, or loss of function, make an appointment with one of our doctors at Herlong Sports Physical Therapy!
Maryland is a direct access state, which means that you do not need a referral to see a physical therapist.
Appointments at HSPT are one-on-one, 45-minute sessions with a licensed Doctor of Physical Therapy who will develop an individualized program specific to you based on the best research evidence and your unique values, preferences, and circumstances.
Session frequency can range anywhere from one session every other week to three or more sessions per week, depending on the injury.