Guide to Injury Prevention and Recovery

Ankle Sprain

Triggers: Trail running, tennis, soccer, falling off your stilettos while leading a wedding reception conga line.

When you land on an uneven surface, your ankle can twist and roll underneath you, stretching or tearing the ligaments.

Tip-off: Pain, swelling, and bruising, usually on the outside of your ankle.

Comeback strategy: Icing the area, then an ankle splint and crutches for two to three weeks to help speed healing.

Time on the sidelines: One to six weeks, depending on the severity of the sprain.

Prevent it with: The Pedal Pusher. Sit with both legs in front of you and a resistance band wrapped around the ball of one foot. Holding the ends of the band taut, push your foot away from your body as if you're stepping on a gas pedal. Hold for two to three seconds. Do three sets of 10 reps on each foot twice a day.

Stress Fracture

Triggers: Basketball, soccer, overtraining for the next Corporate Challenge 10K.

If the muscles around your bones aren't strong enough to absorb the shock of repetitive pounding, your frame becomes more susceptible to snaps. Fractures typically occur in the feet or the lower legs, which bear the brunt of your weight during exercise.

Tip-off: Pain, swelling, or tenderness that worsens over several weeks or months.

Comeback strategy: You probably won't need a regular cast, but your doc might recommend using a walking cast or crutches for about a month or so to ease pressure on the bone.

Time on the sidelines: Six to 12 weeks.

Prevent it with: The Calf Killer. Strong, sturdy calves act as shock absorbers. To toughen them, perch on the edge of a step. Slowly rise up onto your toes, then lower your heels till they dip below the top of the step. Do 10 reps three times per week.

Shoulder Impingement

Triggers: Swimming, tennis, yoga, painting the ceiling.

Because women have looser connective tissue than men, our rotator cuff (the tendons and muscles that give the shoulder a wide range of motion) has to work harder to keep the joint stable. If too many overhead movements inflame the cuff, it can get pinched, or impinged, under the shoulder blade.

Tip-off: A dull pain that grows sharper when you reach overhead or put weight on your shoulder.

Comeback strategy: Physical therapy to tone the surrounding shoulder muscles, which will relieve stress on the rotator cuff.

Time on the sidelines: Two weeks to a couple of months.

Prevent it with: The Shoulder Shaker-Upper. Build a stronger cuff. Lie on your left side with your knees slightly bent. Holding a 3-pound barbell in your right hand, rest your upper right arm against your side with your elbow bent 90 degrees and the weight resting on the floor. Slowly rotate your shoulder and lift your forearm until it's perpendicular to the floor. Do 10 reps on each side two to three times a week.
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