It can be something as simple as running or even striking the ground with their foot, but the physical activity that many athletes enjoy every day also puts them at risk for injury. As the foot has to endure physical contact in every sport from golf to rugby, this part of the body is at risk every time an athlete steps onto the field. Treating foot and ankle injuries not only takes you out of the game, but they can cripple your non-sports related life as well. However, while some injuries are unavoidable, athletes can take precautions in order to decrease the risk of injury.
There aren't many options for protecting your ankle while participating in sports. In some sports, wearing ankle protection isn't allowed, but in many sports, like soccer, ankle guards are legal and necessary. Some shin guards come with ankle guard attached so that if players are kicked in the ankle, it will likely not cause the same injury as it would without the guards.
For athletes that have already had to endure an ankle injury, protection is a must. Once an injury occurs, it becomes much more likely that it will happen to that same ankle again.
Foot and Ankle Conditioning
While performing regular warm up stretches, it is easy to forget about the foot and ankle. However, just like your muscles, these areas need to be warmed up before exercise as well as conditioned by it. Performing regular foot and ankle stretches will not only build strength in the area, but promote flexibility. The added flexibility will give these areas an extra range of motion that may make the difference between general soreness and a debilitating injury.
Gentle, repetitive exercises are best to provide stability to the ankle joint, increase the range of motion, and reduce muscle soreness after exercise. For athletes concerned about ankle injury, physical therapists, sports medicine doctors, and coaches should be able to recommend good exercises and stretches to strengthen the area.
Wear the Right Shoes
Shoes, or even cleats, can make all the difference in protecting your feet and ankles from injuries. However, choosing the wrong footwear can also be just as detrimental to these areas. Make sure athletic shoes fit snuggly, but still allow enough room in the toes for wiggle room. For athletes that have pain in their feet, ankles, legs, hips, or even their spine, the cause may not yet be injury, but rather an indicator of their poor choice in footwear.
Proper athletic footwear should provide your feet and ankles with stability and support in the insole. Most sports shoes come this way, but the major problem is when athletes don't change their shoes when they begin to wear. Those jogging shoes may be "broken in" or those cleats may bring you luck, but the truth is, they aren't supporting your feet like they used to.
While sitting out a few games may be heartbreaking, playing through the pain is often just making an injury that much worse. It is not uncommon for athletes to reinjure themselves because they could not bear to take the time that they need in order to heal. Don't rush your body; it works at its own pace. After taking the time to heal, it may be beneficial to keep that ankle brace or medical tape on for a few games after just to reinforce the joint. However, braces should eventually be taken off to allow the ankle joint to maintain its natural strength and flexibility.
No athlete wants to be put on the sideline because of injury, so be sure to take these tips to heart. For those who already have to deal with a sports-related injury, contact us today to see what we can do to put you back in the field faster.