Foot and ankle injuries, particularly stress fractures, are an unfortunately all-too-common side effect in many runners, athletes, and sports enthusiasts alike. Soccer and tennis players, as well as track and field participants are among the many people who need to adhere to strict training routines in order to avoid any lengthy and nagging problems from occurring. What follows are five simple tips and precautions we can all take if we enjoy any of these activities, to avoid foot fractures and other foot and ankle problems:
- Two Minute Warming – Warm up your muscles by stretching or jogging slowly for at least two to three minutes before any sports related activity. Be careful not to perform any bouncing motions when stretching, whereas this can actually cause injury.
- If you Build Them, They Will Come – Gradually build your muscles by properly conditioning them. This conditioning can be done by slowly increasing your workout or activity over the period of several weeks at the time.
- If the Shoe Fits, Wear It – Always take the time and effort to research and buy properly fitting, supportive, and comfortable shoes. It can also help to buy the appropriate shoe for the corresponding activity, e.g., tennis shoes for tennis, golf shoes for golf, etc. Cross-trainers are a great all-purpose solution, but specialized shoes are usually best. Replacing shoes regularly is a good idea as well. Active runners and other athletes should replace shoes every six months at least, maybe even more often.
- Watch Your Step – If you’re a trail runner, be wary of stumps, rocks, and other uneven ground. These are big problems and typical causes of foot fractures and ankle injuries among runners. Also, pick a soft surface like dirt when possible for running. Otherwise asphalt is actually a bit softer than concrete. The softer the surface you run on, the less shock impact that your lower legs will have to absorb.
- Pay Attention – If you start experiencing pain during your athletic activity, temporarily stop the activity while you recover. When you feel an appropriate amount of time for healing has elapsed, begin your activity again slowly and pay attention to what your body is telling you regarding any sort of potential injury, in the form of recurring pain or discomfort.
These are just a few precautions that can be taken to continue to do some of the healthy things that you love best as an active individual. Perhaps the Cardinal Rule, however, is to use common sense. Do pay particular attention to what your body is telling you. This will avoid any extended periods of forced inactivity due to long-lasting and bothersome foot or ankle injuries. And remember…if you suffer a foot or ankle injury call your Ballwin podiatrists to schedule an office visit.