After a long winter, the weather has warmed, meaning it’s the perfect time for folks across Chicagoland to be active outdoors. But as many doctors know, spring and summer is often the busiest time of year for treating ankle and foot injuries from sports such as running, tennis or soccer. To avoid injury, follow these tips:
Warm up before working out
Before exercising or going on a run, stretch or warm up with five to 10 minutes of cardio such as jogging or jumping jacks to warm up the muscles.
Choose the right shoes
Especially with running, it is important to wear shoes for your foot type. Visit a specialist such as a podiatrist, sports medicine doctor or chiropractor so they can evaluate the biomechanics of your foot, do a gait analysis and advise you about the type of shoes to purchase.
For instance, over-pronators have feet where the arch flattens or rolls inward, distributing weight unevenly. People with this foot type need shoes with support in the front and under the arch. The heel/back of the shoe must be stable.
Other people have neutral feet, where the foot and ankle maintain a straight line, distributing weight evenly.
Once you know your foot type, you can look for a shoe that fits your needs online or at a sporting goods or specialty running store.
Replace shoes regularly
Don’t wear the same shoes for years. Runners especially should replace shoes after 300 to 500 miles of use. If you have trouble keeping track of how worn your shoes are, there are apps for that. For instance, last year, shoe-selling site Zappos and training app MapMyFitness teamed up to create a feature called Gear Tracker in the MapMyFitness app for iPhone users. The feature lets users estimate when their shoes need to be replaced and gives them the option of ordering a new pair from the fitness tracking app itself.
Obey your body
If your feet or ankles start hurting while playing a sport, stop or alter your activity until the pain eases.
If you do suffer pain or injury, try the PRICE method to avoid further injury:
- Protect – Wrap your ankle and avoid use. Wear a brace around the affected ankle, and limit movements that aggravate pain.
- Rest – This speaks for itself. Avoid using the ankle when possible.
- Ice – Apply cold as much as possible for up to 72 hours after pain or injury strikes. Ice should be applied for 15 minutes on the ankle and 45 minutes off with a thin layer in between.
- Compress – Use an Ace wrap or an ankle sleeve on the foot that’s bothering you.
- Elevate – Doing this as needed should help if the ankle throbs or swells.
Follow this method for at least three days, then do only do so as needed. Using this method, pain and swelling should ease after four to six days. If not, seek the help of a podiatrist or other health care professional.