Foot and ankle injuries are common in sports, especially running, tennis and soccer. ParkwayHealth orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Frank DiFazio, suggests that sports enthusiasts can reduce their risk of injury by following these simple precautions:
1. Warm up prior to any sports activity
Do a slow jog or ride a stationary bicycle for two to three minutes to warm up then lightly stretch. Do not force the stretch with any bouncing motions.
2. Condition your muscles for the sport
The amount of time spent on the activity should be increased gradually over a period of several weeks to build both muscle strength and endurance. Cross-training by participating in different activities such as cycling or swimming can also enhance conditioning and fitness.
3. Wear the right type of athletic shoes
Always take the time and effort to research and buy properly fitting, supportive and comfortable athletic shoes. People whose feet pronate or who have low arches should choose shoes that provide support in the front of the shoe and under the arch. The heel and heel counter (back of the shoe) should be stable as well. Those with a stiffer foot or high arches should choose shoes with more cushion and a softer platform. While cross-training shoes can be a good all-purpose option, it is best to use shoes designed for the specific sport.
4. Replace athletic shoes regularly
Do not wait for obvious signs like tread wear or heel breakdown to replace your athletic shoes. As a general guideline, people who run regularly should replace their running shoes every six months or every 800 kilometers. If running shoes are worn longer than this they will not provide sufficient traction and shock absorption.
5. Watch your step
When possible, try to pick a soft surface like dirt for running. Otherwise, asphalt is actually a bit softer than concrete. The softer the surface you run on, the less shock impact your lower legs will have to absorb. If you are a trail runner, be wary of stumps, rocks and other uneven ground.
6. Don’t ignore warning signs
If you experience foot and/or ankle pain during a sport activity, stop the activity. While many athletes may dismiss initial aches and pains, ignoring foot and ankle injures can lead to serious and debilitating problems. Early evaluation by an orthopedic specialist is important to provide prompt and appropriate treatment that will ensure the best possible recovery.