There is plenty to think about when you’re planning to get out in active ways: What kinds of goals should you set? What days would be best to work out? Where should everyone go for ice cream after the pick-up game?
Safety and risk reduction is not exactly the most thrilling concerns when it comes to sports and activities, but it should nonetheless play an important role. And in many pursuits, your feet and ankles should be one of your main focuses!
But My Feet and Ankles Feel Fine!
And that’s excellent! It’s how we wish everyone feels.
Even when we are at optimal health, however, we place our feet and ankles through great amounts of stress. While they are built to take quite a lot of force, it is easier than you might expect to overload them and cause a sports injury.
This overload can come through a sudden hit, slip, fall, or improper landing. But it can also come through pushing your body too hard all at once, or over a sustained period of time.
You may not have control over some circumstances that can lead to a sports injury, but you can have a positive influence in avoiding many! Taking steps to reduce your risks now can help you avoid injuries in the near future; and the more injuries you avoid, the more likely you are to avoid chronic problems and instability that can come from a history of foot and ankle damage.
Everyone’s injury prevention needs may differ depending on their current health status and activities. We highly encourage you to consult us if you have any questions. For now, however, here are a few general items to consider.
Wear the Right Shoes for the Job
A simple pair of sneakers might seem reasonable for just about everything you do, but there is a very good reason why different shoes are made for different sports.
Different activities require different forms of movement. This not only changes the amount of force being placed on the foot and ankles, but the specific locations of the stress in these areas. Running involves shoes that accommodate impact forces against your feet. So does basketball, but you also need to consider all those fast stops and turns on the court. Those place a much different form of stress on the ankles than running!
Shoes made for your pursuits are always a wise investment, and you can often get even more out of them by consulting with a trained sporting goods associate. They will know the best options for you and what you love to do.
Prepare Your Body for Action
Many sports injuries happen as a result of pushing the body harder than it is currently conditioned to handle. This can mean taking off into a sprint from a cold start or making a hard, sudden pivot. Your Achilles tendon and other parts of your feet can suffer from such strain, especially if not prepared for it.
Taking some time to warm up before leaning into an activity can help your muscles, tendons, and other soft tissues be ready for action. A good warm-up does not just involve standing still and stretching, but performing some dynamic movement as well. A light jog for about 5 minutes may suffice.
Give Your Body Rest
In the same mindset that you should take time to prepare your body for action, you should also be giving yourself time to rest and recover.
Focusing on the same kind of activity every day means your body is sustaining that stress every day. If you’re running long periods of time, that means a hefty amount of repetitive impact forces on your feet! This can lead to sports injuries such as stress fractures or plantar fasciitis.
Rest periods are not an obstacle to any goals you might have. In fact, rest is a crucial part of what your body needs to improve! Physical activity breaks down your body on a cellular level, and recovery is when your body rebuilds for better strength and endurance. If you don’t provide enough of a chance for recovery, that breakdown remains, weakening your body until it can literally begin to crack (that’s what stress fractures are!).
Cross-training is another superb option to consider. This provides certain areas of your body rest while focusing on different muscles over different days. If you are mainly focused on running, for example, reserving some days for upper body training or lower-impact work like swimming which can provide greater overall benefits than running alone.
Be Real with Yourself if an Injury Strikes
Sometimes, no matter what you do, you can’t stop a sports injury from happening. Your reaction to one, however, can make a big difference in your recovery and future impacts.
If something begins to hurt while you’re playing or working out, that is your cue to stop. Always. Do not push through the pain and finish your game or reps. Doing so will only risk further damage—and that increases the risk of chronic problems.
Your first thoughts when you feel an injury are to take weight off the painful area. If you can ice the area, do so, and try to keep it elevated above the level of your heart. This can have a substantial influence on initial swelling and recovery.
Then, give us a call! Family Foot & Ankle Center can provide you further guidance on what you should do, and schedule a full examination if additional treatment may be needed.
We have six offices throughout the greater Cincinnati region ready to serve you. Call us at (888) 689-3317 or fill out our online contact form to reach us.