Hamstring Injuries

3 Jul 2021 Blog, Foot & Ankle

Just yesterday, the tennis world was shocked with the news that Serena Williams had to withdraw in the first round of Wimbledon due to an injury. It initially was thought that she may have suffered an ankle injury when she slipped on the grass courts during her match. However, later on in the day, it was suggested that it was in fact a hamstring injury as opposed to ankle  injury.  

The hamstrings are comprised of a group of 3 large muscles: semimembranosus, semitendinosus, and biceps femoris. These muscles run from the pelvis, down the back of your leg, and insert  just below the knee joint. In general, these muscles function in knee flexion and hip extensions  and rotation. As with any muscle, a sprain occurs when more force is placed on the muscle than it can handle or when it is overstretched. This is most frequently seen in sports that require a quick acceleration or deceleration and jumping such as tennis, soccer, basketball, and track. Some predisposing factors that increase the risk of a hamstring strain include poor  flexibility/mobility, muscle imbalances, and prior hamstring injury. In Serena Williams’ case, there were likely multiple factors at play. Less than one month ago, during the French Open, she had the right thigh heavily taped, which is the same leg that was injured yesterday. Additionally, the quick stopping and starting required in tennis, plus the slippery surface of the  grass courts, could have led to excessive stretching and strain of the hamstring. 

Risk Factors

Interestingly, many of these same risk factors for hamstring injuries contribute to foot and  ankle injuries as well. For example, it is not uncommon for student athletes or active individuals who sit for prolonged periods of time at school or work to experience lower leg injuries such as  a hamstring strain, tendinitis, or plantar fasciitis. Whenever someone sits for a long period of  time throughout the day the muscle in the front of your hip called your hip flexors tighten, your  gluteal muscles weaken, and your hamstrings shorten and tighten. When this happens, your pelvis tilts forward causing the legs to rotate inward and your foot to roll in. It is this rolling of  the foot, otherwise known as pronation, that can lead to injuries such as plantar fasciitis and  tendinitis. In addition, having proper muscle balance can improve the stability around your joints and prevent muscles from getting overstressed and injured.  

Tips to Prevent Future Injuries

Therefore, it is important to address these issues early to prevent future injuries. It is important to work on mobility and flexibility, not only of the hips, knees, and ankle, but also the spine. This  can be done with various stretching exercises, in addition to using a foam roller and/or massage stick on a regular basis. Also, if there are prolonged periods of time spent sitting, try to get up to stretch and walk around at least once an hour or more if possible. Keep in mind, stretching should not be painful. Do not try to achieve an increase in flexibility by overstretching the muscles. It is also important  not to neglect strength and core training. Make sure to have a well-rounded training program in  order to ensure that the certain muscles are not overworking or being overstressed. There are also small muscles in the foot called intrinsic foot muscles that need to be strengthened to help with foot stability as well as provide better support for the rest of your body. Finally, don’t forget those  rest days. It is during this time that those muscles get a chance to recover from the damage they sustain during your workouts. If you don’t give them a chance to recover, they will be  more likely to get injured. This is something that Serena Williams is certainly going to need over  the next couple of days and weeks. Remember, everything is connected and must work together. If one area of the body is overly tight, weak, and not functioning properly, the body has to compensate elsewhere which is when an injury can occur.


Author: Dr. Elizabeth Bondi

A Look at Regenerative Medicine by Dr. Bret Musser

Regenerative medicine is all the rage in most areas of medicine and for good reason. Foot and Ankle medicine is no different. Patient’s are not looking for ways to mask their condition, but are searching for ways to heal their ailments. Products such as amniotic tissue, platelet-rich plasma (PRP), and collagen have been shown to address injured areas directly by using the body’s own mechanisms to augment the healing process. These therapies are used quite often in the office and in surgical procedures.

Products that include amniotic tissue or fluid are from donor placental membrane and fluid. These tissues are very rich in healing factors and nutrients needed to heal injured tissues. The medical literature has shown great benefit of these donor cells to heal tendon, ligament, and localized cartilage injuries. Amniotic tissue is often used in surgery to help augment healing of repaired tendons as well as reduce scar tissue formation after surgery.

Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) uses your own body’s healing pathways to create localized healing through your body’s inflammatory process. PRP is blood drawn from your veins and then spun down using a special process to create extra dense healing nutrients from your own cells. This technique has the benefit of using your own cells to help heal injury instead of using donated cells. PRP can also be used for a variety of musculoskeletal injuries in the foot and ankle.

Collagen injections are quite useful in the reparative process of injury. Our body is full of different types of collagen. Collagen is the main source of tissue used for most anatomical structures in the body including tendon, ligament, and cartilage. Many times, in injured tissue, there is a collagen deficit. Collagen acts as a scaffold to bridge injured tissue with healthy tissue. By introducing collagen to an injured area you are providing the structure necessary to create an optimal healing environment for damaged tissue.

In my practice, I utilize these treatments to help heal injured areas instead of masking the pain. It is better to direct treatment toward the source of the problem. These treatments; in conjunction with other therapies; have helped maximize my patient’s results and get them back to healthy living, quicker. I also use these products in my surgeries to help regenerate damaged tendon and ligament as well as regenerate damaged cartilage within the ankle joint using minimally invasive techniques such as arthroscopy.

If you are suffering from foot and ankle injuries that are not improving and want more information regarding Northern Illinois Foot and Ankle Specialists regenerative medicine program contact us at 847-639-5800 or find us online at www.illinoisfoot.com

Dr. Bret Musser has hours on the following days & at the following locations:

Monday – Lake in the Hills – 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM

Wednesday – Lake in the Hills – 10:00 AM – 7:00 PM

Thursday – Lake in the Hills – 8:00 AM – 4:00 PM

Friday – Cary – 8:00 AM – 4:00 PM

Stress Fractures

As the name of the condition implies, stress fractures are incomplete breaks in a bone resulting from increased or abnormal repetitive stress to a bone. The most common site in the body for stress fractures are in bones of the foot and ankle, especially the metatarsals. Often they are seen in runners while training for a big race or even a sedentary middle-aged person who decides to walk 5 miles in one day after not doing so for years. Stress fractures are common in many activities and sports that demand consistent high impact such as basketball, football, soccer and dancing to name a few. We often see these athletes at the beginning of their training season where they are getting back in shape after coming off of a relaxing offseason. These athletes are often doing too much too quickly, living in the glory days of a past season versus gradually increasing the intensity, duration and frequency of workouts.

Stress fractures can occur at all ages and all activity levels, however. Men and women typically reach peak bone density between ages 25-35 and after 40 we start to see a decline in bone density particularly in women postmenopause where naturally lower levels of estrogen leads to decreased bone mineralization. Without a balanced and healthy diet including supplementation of vitamin D and calcium, this gradual loss in bone mineralization can lead to osteoporosis in the elderly, increasing the risk of stress fractures and complete fractures.

After sustaining a stress fracture people often relate sharp pain and swelling in their forefoot with walking or even standing. People are often able to point to a specific event or time period after which they began experiencing pain in their foot. Something as simple as walking or hiking long distances in unsupportive shoe gear can be the trigger. Stress fractures are often seen on x-ray 2-3 weeks after injury and sometimes an MRI, CT scan or bone scan may be necessary to confirm. These typically take 6-8 weeks to heal but may heal more quickly or slowly based on the individual. During that time patients are immobilized in a boot and must take a break from the offending activity. Patients are encouraged to follow RICE therapy – rest, ice and elevate as much as possible and medications are prescribed as needed for pain. While the majority of these fractures heal well with these measures, there are certain cases where surgery may be necessary depending on the bone involved.

Once healed we work closely with our patients to develop a game plan to ramp up safely and gradually to their prior activities. Thanks to COVID, as we all are starting to be more active following months of relative inactivity and with some sports starting with restrictions, we are already seeing an increase in the incidence of stress fractures. If you or someone you know may be experiencing these symptoms or any other pain in your feet, we are here to help you move forward one step at a time.

For more information please call 847.639.5800.

Dr. Wilson has hours at the following locations:

Monday – Crystal Lake –  10:00 AM – 7:00 PM

Tuesday – Crystal Lake –  8:00 AM – 4:00 PM

Wednesday – Hoffman Estates – 8:00 AM – 4:00 PM

Friday – Elgin – 8:00 AM – 4:00 PM

How does COVID-19 Impact Your Foot & Ankle? by Dr. Pete Lovato

16 Apr 2020 All, Blog, Foot & Ankle

At first glance, this seems like a pretty ridiculous question.  I mean COVID-19 can’t really infect your feet, right? Well, that is correct, but with the stay at home order still in place for Illinois, that means fewer visits to physicians for all your foot & ankle pain unless it is absolutely necessary. 

The purpose of this blog article is to answer the biggest question on most people’s minds with foot & ankle pain. The question of what qualifies to come into the office for a visit currently.

First off, physicians are still an essential service so anything that normally causes you to make an appointment at our offices is acceptable under the current stay at home order.  We must exercise good judgment though. Patients that are at a higher risk we do recommend staying at home unless it can’t be avoided. Higher risk patients are anyone of advanced age with the highest risk being 80 years or older according to newer statistics.  People at higher risk are also patients with lung conditions (COPD, asthma, etc.), immune deficiency conditions, or heart disease.

Currently, we are still seeing any patients at every office that deems it necessary to come in.  Some conditions can’t wait to be treated and these involve injuries or trauma. Trauma includes fractures of the foot and ankle, sprains, or falls.  It is safer to come to our office to get an Xray and be evaluated than the ER. We are also treating general orthopedic problems, chronic pain, surgical consults, wounds, or infections.  Nail conditions are also important to not wait on because ingrown nails can cause infections which if bad enough can cause you to present to an ER. Basically anything else that can’t wait until the stay at home order is lifted we are happy to see in the office.

The point I would most like to make with this article is that If in doubt about where to go, our offices are much safer than an emergency room or urgent care.

Flatfeet by Dr. Nooreen Ibrahim

3 Apr 2020 All, Blog, Foot & Ankle

Why do my feet hurt?

Do you wonder if you have flatfeet that may be causing your pain?

What are flatfeet? Flatfeet are feet that have lost or have a decrease in their medial arch, causing the foot to
appear flat like a pancake when standing up. Flatfeet are normal for younger children to have,
due to their internally rotated tibia (leg bone). However with time, the tibia will begin to
externally rotate and create an arch! Flatfeet are driven by the bones in your feet becoming
misaligned and are often driven by tight calf muscles, which is why it is important to stretch out
your calves!

What if my flatfeet don’t hurt?
Flatfeet can lead to tendonitis and arthritis, which is why it is important to get your flatfeet
checked out earlier rather than later. Along with stretching, it is important to have orthotics to
support your arch, provide stability and support to the tendons and ligaments struggling to
keep your arch from collapsing. Our offices can provide custom-made orthotics for your flat

I have flatfeet too, and I know that they can be really painful and inhibit the activities you want
to accomplish, whether it be taking a walk or playing competitive sports. As someone that has
dealt with flatfeet for years, I know it is really important to take care of them to minimize my
foot and ankle pain.

If you think you have flatfeet and would like to discuss whether or not you need to do anything
for treatment, come and see me today! As your Podiatrist, my number one priority is your foot
and ankle health. I’ll do my very best to get you feeling better and back on your feet! Call us


Many parents call our office concerned about foot pain in their children.  Foot pain is never normal and if your son or daughter is complaining of pain in their feet, it’s best to get it checked out right away!  The most common foot problem in ‘tweens’ is calcaneal apophysitis – otherwise known as pediatric heel pain.

Children will often experience this particular growing pain between the ages of 10 and 14 for girls and 12 and 16 for boys.  The secondary ossification center (the part of the bone that lets us keep growing and makes parents buy more and more shoes) will begin to close in the heel bone at this time.  When our Achilles tendon is tight (as it is in most people) it pulls on its attachment to the back of the heel bone and causes friction at that ossification center, which can lead to pain when walking or performing activities!

Another way to look at it is the Oreo cookie analogy – the heel bone and the secondary ossification center are the cookie parts and the white cream filling is the new bone trying to fuse down.  When we move the two cookie pieces along and against one anther, we create friction, and sometimes the filling gets smashed or falls out.  In this case that friction = cookie filling smashed = pain in our kids.

The good news is we have easy, conservative solutions that can keep our children active in their sport and keep us from worrying!  If your child is complaining of heel pain, give us a call at 847.639.5800 today to schedule a consultation.