When I think about a beautiful summer weekend, I think about the great outdoors, particularly about a moderately vigorous hike, (with our hills in downtown Seattle, that could be in the city or out) that provides both a gorgeous date with mother nature and a fun, challenging way to get my daily exercise. The next thing I think about is how much energy is used and how much work is done by my legs and feet, especially going up hills, down hills, and hiking on natural, unpaved paths. While these are some of the enjoyable parts of exercising outdoors, they also warrant some precautionary thoughts and “what if” questions to be considered.
Since I know my feet and legs are going to work hard, it is certainly necessary to invest in soft comfortable socks and sturdy supportive shoes for this type of exercise. Since I know how tired and sore feet can become after a nice long hike on potentially uneven surfaces, a common musculoskeletal injury comes to mind--ankle sprains.
Ankle sprains, or twisting/rolling your ankle, are very common injuries encountered on hiking trails due to a wrong step on uneven surfaces such as tree roots, rocks, or just a hole in the ground. Since this is an acute injury that will likely lead to swelling and inflammation around your ankle area.
I recommend a common protocol that needs to be applied immediately called "RICE" which stands for Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation. Apply an ice pack to the affected area (with a layer of cloth between your skin and the ice) and held in place with an Ace wrap or elastic bandage to provide compression.
These steps help decrease the swelling and internal damage occurring as part of the body’s natural response to the injury. The ankle should be elevated slightly higher than your heart to help promote drainage from the swollen area. The ice should be applied for 20 min on/20 min off as much as you can for the first 48 hours after the injury. The “rest” part of this treatment means keeping weight-bearing activity to a minimum for a couple of days, and slowly getting back to normal daily activities as tolerated. It is very important to make sure your ankle strength and stability have returned before attempting physical activities, as these sprained ankles are common to reoccur.
If you are still experiencing pain, weakness, or instability after about a week, it may be necessary to schedule an appointment with a podiatrist to further evaluate the ankle and provide more treatment options.
*The RICE method of treatment may also be used as first-line treatment for any type of muscle, tendon, or ligament injury where there is pain and swelling.
If you've sustained an injury, it's important to see a Seattle podiatrist to evaluate the injury and determine whether further treatment is needed. Call us at 206-368-7000 or request an appointment online.