man tying his shoeWhether you're a weekend warrior or the parent of a kid just getting back to into sports at school, you should be aware of the most common sports related foot and ankle injuries.

To prevent these foot and ankle problems from occuring, be sure to use these seven hacks.

Keep your body in shape throughout the year

Prevention of foot and ankle injuries starts by participating in a variety of sports throughout the year. Weightlifting at the gym, yoga, and an aerobic activity such as swimming, cycling or light jogging will keep your body strong and flexible.

Proper footwear

Proper shoes are your best defense against foot and ankle injuries. These days there are specific shoes made for every type of sport. For example basketball shoes are designed to protect ankles that need to twist, running shoes protect feet that repetitively hit the ground, and soccer cleats prevent athletes from slipping.

Although it may be more cost effective to pass shoes down from older to younger children, it's a bad idea for sports shoes in particular. One of the main purposes of athletic shoes is to provide the best support possible for the type of sport you play. Shoes that are worn out or worn down differently from a previous owner can be detrimental to the next person who uses them.

It's also important to pay attention to your foot type when picking out a pair of sports shoes. A good sporting goods store, such as Super Jock N Jill for runners, will take this into account when suggesting a shoe. You should also test the shoes before you purchasing them by watching my video "How to Test Any Shoe for Stability" to ensure they'll provide proper support.

Best warm-up and cool down exercises

Warm up your legs by jogging in place for at least 10 minutes before you stretch. Engage in a variety of stretches. Try using Dynamic Warm-up and Cool Down exercises to get yourself ready to play sports. While proper warm-up and cool down exercises are important for all athletes, they are essential for athletes over 50 and for those who may participate in the occasional pick-up basketball or softball game.

Increase training gradually to prevent overuse injuries

Weekend warriors are often at risk for overuse injuries caused by occasional play. However, anyone can develop an overuse injury if they increase their sports activities by more than 10% per week. Our bodies aren't able to adapt to rapid increases in running and other sports activities and this is particularly true as we age.

Check for unsafe field surfaces/wet slippery fields

Most sports-related ankle sprains are caused by jumping and running on uneven surfaces. Check playing fields for dips, holes, stray objects, and too much water.  Alert coaching officials to any irregularities.

Get a pre-season physical exam

Kids and adults alike should go to their podiatrist or primary care physician for a pre-season physical. Ask your provider to check out any old injuries before engaging in sports.

Listen to your body

Our bodies are designed to feel pain so that we avoid more severe injuries. Keep this in mind and teach your kids to recognize when pain is not normal. Some muscle pain is common with new activity but pain that lasts over many days is a warning to stop and rest.

If you or your child needs a pre-season check-up or are experiencing any foot and ankle pain, call us today at 206-368-7000 for an appointment. Often same day for emergencies and less than 2 weeks for chronic foot pain. You can also request an appointment online.

Seattle foot and ankle specialist, Dr. Rion Berg offers foot care for patients with bunions, heel pain, diabetes, fungal toenails, ingrown nails, and surgical solutions when needed to residents of Seattle, Bellevue, Kirkland, Shoreline, Lake Forest Park, Mountlake Terrace, Lynnwood and other surrounding suburbs.

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