There’s no question that sports and physical activities are a great way to stay in shape and keep your heart healthy. In addition to the physical benefits, playing sports helps you build friendships and boosts self-confidence. But with the positives comes the potential for injury, especially to your feet and ankles.
At New Canaan Podiatry, we have good news. Although foot and ankle injuries are common in many sports, there are things you can do to protect your lower extremities from harm.
Board-certified podiatrist Jennifer Tauber, DPM, and our entire care team are committed to helping protect your feet and ankles so you can continue to play. We offer customized treatment to patients in New Canaan, Connecticut, suffering from sports injuries.
We also know prevention can be the best medicine. Read on to learn our top five tips to help you stay in the game and remain injury-free!
1. Don’t skip your warm-up routine
You know you should always warm up your muscles before working out or playing sports. But despite all the warnings, many people still skip this important step. Don’t be one of them! Warming up your muscles before playing sports is one of the best ways to help prevent injuries.
You don’t have to spend a lot of time or follow complicated routines to warm up the right way. Avoid bouncy stretches, which can injure your muscles and tendons. Instead, try a quick and brisk five-minute walk to loosen up your muscles, or jog in place for two to three minutes to get the blood flowing.
2. Don’t forget to work your legs and ankles
Many people forget to give their ankles and legs a little love. When the game is over, it’s easy to forget to stretch, and most of us don’t think about ankle workouts. But stretching your legs helps prevent injuries, and ankle exercises keep your joints flexible and help your range of motion, which can stop an injury before it starts.
Here are some simple exercises and stretches you can do to help prevent foot and ankle injuries:
- Complete slow ankle circles with each foot for 60 seconds
- Spell out the alphabet with each foot and ankle
- Try calf raises
- Stretch your hamstrings
- Perform quad stretches
You might also consider adding yoga or more dedicated stretching throughout the week to help reduce your risk of injury.
3. Choose the right footwear
Choosing the right footwear means more than just wearing athletic shoes designed for your sport. It’s important to ensure your shoes fit correctly. They shouldn’t be too tight, and proper arch support can make a real difference in the health of your feet.
It’s also essential to replace your footwear as they start to wear out. While all shoes have a shelf life, it’s especially important to pay attention to the life of your athletic shoes. Playing in worn-out footwear increases your risk of a foot or ankle injury.
Not sure if you’re wearing the right shoes or what the shelf-life of your athletic footwear might be? Dr. Tauber can help. Our office can also provide custom orthotics and braces as needed, especially if you’ve had a foot or ankle injury in the past.
4. Don’t forget to rest
Rest and recovery are essential parts of sports performance. What’s more? They help reduce your risk of foot and ankle injuries. Take regular breaks during your game to keep your body performing well, and be sure to schedule “off” days during the week to allow your muscles time to recover and repair. Be sure to use breaks and rest days to hydrate well. Dehydration increases your chances of fatigue and injury.
5. Pay attention to your pain
It’s easy to ignore the warning signs your body sends, especially if you’re part of a team. But pain can be an important sign that it’s time to slow down and take a break — before a serious injury occurs.
While muscle soreness is normal and can be expected after many physical activities, pain is never normal. If you experience pain, stop and rest. Continuing to play could make a minor injury worse or increase your chances of a serious injury.
If you’re ready for more information about protecting your feet and ankles from a sports injury, or if you’re experiencing an injury now, the team at New Canaan Podiatry can help. Contact our office or book an appointment online.