Whether you’re a casual jogger or a pro runner, foot injuries are no joke. Check out these tips to avoid the most common injuries to your feet and ankles.
If you think about it, your feet support you in pretty much everything you do. This is especially true when it comes to exercise and sports. Your feet take a lot of the burden, yet many people fail to care for them.
That’s how foot and ankle injuries sneak up on you.
The good news is, you can easily prevent common foot injuries by taking precautions to protect your feet and ankles. By giving some thought to this important part of your body, you can avoid hurting yourself in the future.
The Most Common Foot Injuries
Knowing what you’re up against is half the battle. Any pain may be an indicator of injury, and where the pain is radiating from may give you a clue to what you’re dealing with.
Here are a few of the most common injuries you may find yourself treating:
- Sprained ankle: When the foot suddenly goes in a different direction, usually turning inwards, damaging ligaments
- Plantar fasciitis: Stress on the ligament supporting the arch of the foot, resulting in heel pain and stabbing pain after resting
- Stress fractures: Hairline fractures caused by high impact on the feet which can turn into larger breaks if not treated
- Achilles tendonitis: Inflammation of the Achilles tendon, the largest tendon in the body, leading to a lot of pain
- Heel spurs: Painful calcium deposits that collect in the heel of the foot caused by repeated impact.
Here are some of the best ways you can give your feet a fighting chance against these all-too-common injuries.
1. Wear the Right Shoes for Your Feet
Fit and functionality are more important than how a shoe looks. One of the best ways to prevent injuries in your feet and ankles is to find the best workout shoes for your body.
Get your feet properly measured so you know the perfect size for your new shoes.
You might not know that most people have two different-sized feet, which means you might be wearing a size that puts one of your feet at a bigger risk of injury without even realizing it.
Consider getting a gait analysis to lead you in the right direction.
This test will let you know how you walk and run to find imperfections in your form. Getting a view of your heel strike, arm swing, and foot placement can help you change your form to avoid injury. This analysis can also let you know if the footwear you’re currently using isn’t right for you.
2. Warm-Up and Stretch Out
Warming up your muscles and tendons is a great way to prevent injuries to your feet and ankles. Just like any other muscle, a good warm-up will get your feet ready for whatever workout you’re planning to do.
Light jogging for a few minutes before a run is a great way to get your feet into gear.
There are plenty of warm-up exercises that target your feet, ankles, and lower legs that you can and should add to your workout routine. Calf stretches and calf raises, walking on your toes and heels, and stretching out your arch are all perfect for warming up your muscles.
3. Get In Your Conditioning
Conditioning is the process of getting your feet ready for running , a certain sport, or a workout by starting out slow and building up to a higher level. If you want to run a long distance, it’s better to start with a shorter run and add onto it until you reach your goal.
By gradually working your way up to where you want to be, you reduce the risk of injuring your feet by pushing them too hard too fast.
Mixing in different kinds of workouts (cross-training) will help to strengthen your feet and ankles further. Changing up what movements your feet are doing on occasion is good for keeping them strong all around instead of just in one area.
4. Be Aware of What’s Under Your Feet
Walking or running on uneven surfaces increases the odds of a foot or ankle injury. Be extra careful on trails and places that may be rocky or full of holes, as turning your feet is much easier.
If you have a race on uneven terrain, give your feet their best chance and make sure to practice on that kind of surface beforehand.
Depending on what your feet and ankles can handle, remember that dirt roads are softer than asphalt, which is softer than concrete. The harder the surface, the more impact it will have on your feet.
5. Listen to Your Body
Never ignore foot or ankle pain while running or playing a sport. Ignoring any signs of injury can lead to it getting so much worse. Address any pain you feel as soon as possible.
Modify how you exercise (or how much you exercise) until the pain subsides. If you can’t continue without pain, you may need to take a break completely.
If you’ve had injuries in the past, there’s always a chance of sustaining that same injury again. If you can figure out why it happened, whether it’s how you run or mistakenly stepping into a hole, you can better avoid it in the future.
It may also be a good idea to wear a brace to prevent a recurring injury.
A lot of people focus more on strengthening their arms, legs, and core rather than their feet. But your feet are an incredibly important part of your body, especially if you’re a runner or play a sport like soccer or tennis.
Putting your best foot forward is better done when your feet are at their strongest!
Don’t leave your feet out of the mix. By making a simple change in footwear, warming up before the big race, and listening to your body, you have a much higher chance of preventing the most common foot and ankle injuries.
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Caitlin Sinclair is the property manager at Cielo at Little Italy with five years of property management experience and many more in Customer Service. She shares her passion for her community and looks forward to making Cielo at Little Italy the place to call home.