Of all the areas to suffer an injury in, your foot and ankle can be one of the most debilitating. Even relatively small issues can massively impair your mobility, can be difficult to heal and will often have a wide range of consequences for your day to day routine. No injury can be completely avoided, but with a little forward thinking and self-care you can prevent some of the most common injuries that affect the ankle and foot area.
Avoid walking barefoot
This is a quick and easy way to steer clear of some of the more painful foot injuries – our footwear is designed specifically to support and protect our feet and ensuring that you resist the urge to walk barefoot around the house or outside in the park will do your feet a favour. There are a number of dangers to walking barefoot that are easy to overlook, from obvious ones like slippery floors that can lead to twisted ankles or sharp objects which could require a tetanus shot, to more long term ailments like hookworm or fungal infections. Let your socks and shoes do their job and lace up as soon as you’re out of bed.
Wear the right footwear
Not everyone enjoys the task of buying shoes and it can be tempting to take the easy way out and buy shoes quickly without ensuring they fit correctly and suit our needs. This can lead to chronic injuries if the foot is not correctly supported and even small issues can build up over time. You should select comfortable shoes that equally feel neither too tight or too lose – when you press the tip of your shoe you should be able to feel your toe right at the front, with no space or cramped conditions. Equally, sturdy shoes should be used for outdoor activities and breathable, flexible shoes should be used for most sports. For more on choosing the right footwear, see this blog.
Replace your footwear frequently
One of the most common causes of ankle or foot injuries is using shoes beyond their usefulness. We can all be sentimental about a favourite pair of shoes, but if they have become worn and aren’t providing the same grip and support that they once did, it’s time to replace them! For the active person or regular jogger, it’s recommended to replace athletic shoes after 3 months, with everyday shoes replaced every 6 months. Shoes that wear down can increase the risk of rolled ankles or damaged tendons through slippage on smooth surfaces. Even sturdy shoes can lose their shock absorbing qualities, so trade up as soon as they look worse for wear.
Stretch and Exercise
Your foot and ankle is a part of your body like any other. The best way to ensure it has the strength and mobility to support you is to stretch it regularly, each morning and evening, to promote flexibility. If you are a regular exerciser you should include lower leg routines in your regime to include those areas in your training. Even if you’re a more moderate exerciser, a brisk walk or a trip up the stairs in your building rather than the elevator will give your feet the work out they need.
The best way to avoid nuisance injuries to your foot and ankle is to listen to them if they complain. Anything uncomfortable should be addressed right away to prevent an injury from ruining your day, and possibly causing long-term damage.