For true fitness fanatics, sustaining a foot or ankle injury is one of the worst things that could happen. Even the slightest misstep can result in a painful injury that can take us out of action for weeks or months on end. This can be disastrous for people who play sports or have fitness goals they are aiming to achieve. In order to help you avoid this kind of disappointment, we have compiled a list of ways to prevent foot and ankle injuries.
Ankle circles are one of the best ways to loosen up the muscles, tendons, and joints that envelop the ankle. With so many in such a small area, this one exercise can prevent a lot of different injuries. To do it, simply sit on the ground with your knees bent and legs crossed. In the air, perform both clockwise and anti-clockwise circles with each foot. Do this before each exercise.
Another option to build up a resilient ankle, while also learning to gain greater control over your body in general, is to try balancing on one leg. Bend your legs at the knees, and hold one foot behind your back. Do this for about 30 seconds for each foot. You will feel yourself shaking considerably, with much of this shaking emanating from the ankle itself. Practicing this over time will build up your ankle strength and make you more in tune with your balance.
Similar to this are calf and shin raises. Rather than lifting one leg, simply place both feet firmly on the ground. For calf raises, slowly bring your heels up so that you are standing on your toes, keeping your ankles straight the entire time. For shin raises, do the opposite, lifting your toes but keeping your feet on the ground. These will help loosen muscles in your feet and teach you better control over shifting body weight.
When it comes to widespread but preventable foot injuries, few are more common the Plantar fasciitis. The Plantar fascia is the ligament that runs from our heels to our toes, and is one of the most used (and overused) body parts for most people. As we walk, jog, or run, particularly on uneven surfaces, the plantar fascia is stretched and develops small tears that can lead to pain and inflammation.
To prevent this, you should make sure to stretch before any exercise. This can be done by standing a few feet back from a wall, placing one foot at the base, and one behind you with the knee bent. “Push” the wall, and you will feel your Plantar fascia stretch. Alternatively, you could sit with your legs spread in front of you, reach forward, and hold your toes for about ten seconds, or however long feels comfortable.
Regardless of what sport or exercise you are undertaking, finding the right footwear is essential. You may think a comfortable, protective shoe is enough, but what you should wear will vary enormously depending on what you do. Walkers, runners, and joggers will all need different shoe types, as will those who run uphill, or on soft versus hard terrain. In truth, finding the right shoe is an essential step in protecting your feet from unnecessary injury. To learn more about finding the right shoes for you, visit our blog on that subject.