There are many types of ankle and foot injuries, of course, and not all are preventable. Sometimes you’ll just have to head to your local podiatrist (ankle and foot doctor) and let him or her sort it all out. But especially as the weather is getting warmer and you’re more likely to be playing sports or doing other outdoor activities, there are a few things you can do to reduce your likelihood of ending up with ankle and foot injuries in the near future. Here are five:
- Wear More Supportive Shoes
We’ve all heard this speech, but it bears repeating: Supportive shoes are the best tool at your disposal for reducing foot pain. That means not only avoiding heels and sandals, but also choosing the right athletic shoes for your foot type before any extended activity. You can always go to a podiatrist to be fitted for custom orthotics if you’re having trouble finding shoes that fit. Also keep in mind that shoes wear out, and replacing shoes with worn-down soles is a good way to prevent injury.
- Pace Yourself and Build Slowly
It can be tempting, in the spring, to go all out. But doing so without proper training almost guarantees injuries. That’s why it’s actually more common for weekend warriors — people who get together for a few games on the weekend to relive their glory days — to get injured than it is for full-time athletes. By all means stay active, but build up that activity slowly and steadily.
- Exercise Your Feet and Toes
You may not have thought about specifically exercising your feet and toes, but there are many tiny yet important muscles you can target for better foot health. Try writing the alphabet (in capital letters) with your foot by moving only the ankle while you’re sitting at your desk in the office, and work on learning to move each toe individually.
- Stretch Your Feet Regularly
It’s easy for certain muscles and tendons in your feet and ankles to get tight. One very common cause of this is wearing high heels, since that leads to shortening of the muscles in the back of the heel and the bottom of the foot. But even sleeping with heavy covers, which tend to push your feet into a pointed position overnight, can cause conditions such as plantar fasciitis. Warm up and stretch your feet once or twice a day, and you should have less chronic pain as well as a lower likelihood of acute injury.
- Really Listen to Your Body
Remember that pain is a symptom, and seeking treatment for it absolutely isn’t weakness. The sooner you seek medical care for a foot problem, the sooner you can get treatment and — literally — get back on your feet.
How else can people prevent ankle and foot injuries? Join the discussion in the comments.