We all know that sports provide us with many benefits like exercise, friendships, discipline, and healthy competition. But with that comes a common downside: injuries, especially in the foot and ankle.
While ankle sprains account for about 50% of all sports injuries, there are countless other ways athletes can hurt their feet and ankles.
The more injuries you have, the more bench time you see and the more injuries you may have down the line.
The key is prevention. So let’s go over top ways to prevent foot and ankle sports injuries. Then we’ll learn why a visit to the podiatrist is important even before injury.
1. Wear The Right Shoes & Buy New Ones Often
Make sure you buy your sport shoes from an actual athletic store and have the salesperson measure your foot for the ideal size. Choose a shoe designed particularly for your sport. Not all cleats or tennis shoes are interchangeable.
Know this isn’t a one and done. To keep your feet and ankles safe, you will need to replace your shoes after you’ve had about 500 miles of wear. An active athlete often has to do this every 3 months.
2. Condition & Exercise Your Feet
Your biceps and quads aren’t the only areas of your body that need to be exercised for sport excellence! You need to work those feet!
- Wrap a band, belt, or towel around your foot. Pull to create resistance, then point and flex your foot.
- Balance on one foot for a minute or so to strengthen and stabilize.
The key here should be gradual growth. You can’t take a year break and jump in at full speed. Slowly build up strength and stability in your feet and ankles.
3. Warm It Up
Each time you are about to start any sport activity, you need to make sure to warm up your feet and ankles.
Start by stretching and moving all the bones and joints in your feet and ankle area. Then bring some heat. A short jog or simply running in place can make a huge difference.
4. Wrap It Up
If you know you have a problem with your feet or ankles – or even if you suspect you could have a problem –wrap your foot and ankle or try a professional ankle brace. This will prevent those jarring movements that can lead to injury.
If you feel like the wrap is impeding your performance, talk to you podiatrist about alternatives.
5. Think Outside of the Box
Sometimes indirect lifestyle changes are essential for injury prevention:
- Keep your lower body in shape: Your abs, lower back, hips, and legs all play a part in how your step down or move your feet. Make sure you are working out and stretching your lower body.
- Boost calcium, magnesium, and vitamin D: These nutrients are essential for healthy bones and happy muscles. Great food choices include almonds, seeds, leafy greens, eggs, and fish.
- Limit alcohol; quit tobacco: Both of these substances lead to bone loss.
6. Most Importantly, Visit Your Podiatrist
Many people think if they are really good at preventing ankle and foot injuries they never have to see a podiatrist. But that’s the wrong way to look at it!
Whether or not you have a problem right now, consider meeting with a podiatrist if you are involved in any sport. This applies to the teenager actively trying to get a college scholarship and the adult casually enjoying recreational weekend sports.
- Help you slowly condition your muscles so your feet and ankles can support your sport
- Teach you specific exercises and stretches to prevent injury… or prevent further injury
- Assess your foot and ankle to predict and then help you prevent future problems
- And much more
So make your appointment today. Your feet and ankles – and the longevity of your sports playing – depend on it.