Let’s face it – our feet often take a beating. In fact, the average person walks 8,000 – 10,000 steps in a day, or approximately 100,000 miles in a lifetime! No wonder our feet and ankles are often overworked and stressed. And, this can lead to pain, as well as injury. However, if you take the following precautions, you can help prevent some of the most common causes of injuries or discomfort.
1. Wear the right shoes.
Ill-fitting shoes are the primary cause of a number of foot and ankle problems, especially among women. Choose shoes that provide proper support to your feet and that are specific to your foot type, sport or daily activities. For example, if you have flat feet or your feet over-pronate, you require shoes that provide support under the arch; if you have high arches, choose shoes with more cushion and support. And, if you’re athletic, you should also think about the nature and intensity of your activity as there are specific shoes designed for running, walking and cross-training.
2. Stretch to improve your flexibility.
Prior to beginning any sports activity, it’s important to spend a few minutes stretching. This helps warm-up the muscles, ligaments, and joints in the feet and ankles, which will help relieve discomfort and promote mobility. Just remember not to force your stretch – do it comfortably and carefully for about 30-60 seconds on each leg after your warm-up.
3. Work on your balance.
As we get older, balance issues can lead to trips, falls or other injuries, such as ankle sprains. However, balance training can benefit everyone – from athletes to the elderly. Take the time to improve your balance by performing exercises such as squats or lunges on a BOSU, or even practicing balancing on one foot while brushing your teeth. If you have more serious balance issues, physical therapy can also help provide improvement.
4. Use a brace.
If you’ve had a past ankle or foot injury – such as a sprain, tendonitis, stress fracture or heel pain, you may want to consider wearing a brace to prevent future injuries, especially when engaging in sports or exercise. In fact, the Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine found that an ankle brace is twice as effective as ankle tape in preventing injuries. Ankle braces not only provide extra support, but can also help reduce swelling. Since there are a variety of styles and options available, consult with your doctor to determine which kind of brace is best suited for you.
5. Follow the 10% rule.
Dream of running your first 5K or completing a seven-mile hike? Get your body ready for new challenges or physical activity by gradually increasing your time, speed and distance when exercising. Fitness apps or devices, like a FitBit or Apple Watch, can help you set goals, track your progress and ensure that you have a reasonable training plan.
For more information about preventing foot or ankle injuries, speak to an orthopedic specialist at Coastal Orthopedics today. It’s our mission to help patients live life to the fullest. Call us today at 941-792-1404 or request an appointment online.