Tips to Keep Your Feet and Ankles Injury-Free

By on August 11, 2021

When it comes to exercise and looking after the body, most people tend to overlook their feet and ankles, focusing instead on their legs, upper body, and core.  Your feet are your foundation and carry the entire weight of your body, so their importance should not be underestimated, since your balance and mobility are hampered without them. 

As wear and tear on the joints arise as a natural part of the aging process, taking care of your feet is necessary to ensure these vital parts of your body remain healthy and strong for years to come. Below are some helpful tips to help you keep your feet and ankles injury-free:

Right Footwear

It’s important to house your feet in something comfortable. Wear shoes that are the correct size and are wide enough for your whole foot to prevent problems such as bunions from occurring. To give you extra support, consider purchasing shoes with cushioned linings or add an in-sole to your existing pairs of shoes. Feet with higher arches, for example, require more cushioning to absorb the impact from walking or running. 

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The shoes you wear should also be appropriate for the activity. When it comes to sport, for instance, make sure your shoes offer you the right amount of support and grip for the intensity and surface that you will be playing on. It is also recommended that you replace your shoes when they start showing signs of wear such as the heels or tread wearing out.

Feet and Ankle Exercises

Regular exercise and stretching can help keep the muscles of the feet and ankles strong, supple, and flexible, minimizing the chances of an injury occurring. One of the most common reasons people seek medical attention in this area is when they have pain in the heel or arch of the foot, known as plantar fasciitis. The pain can range from mild to excruciating so it’s important to do exercises for plantar fasciitis which includes movements such as toe curls and heel raises.

Keeping the ankles strong is important to prevent balance problems and injuries such as twists and sprains from happening. Rotation of the ankle can help muscles, tendons, and ligaments in the ankle and foot become stronger improving flexibility and mobility in this area.

Most foot and ankle exercises are simple and require no specialized equipment to perform. You can easily do them at home and incorporate them as part of your regular exercise or stretching routine.

Stick to Solid Ground

Where possible, avoid running or walking on uneven surfaces such as rocky terrain and cobbled paths as this can increase the risk of an ankle injury and also put stress on the feet.  If you are on rough or uneven ground be careful of loose gravel, and obstacles such as tree stumps, roots, and bushes over which you might trip.

When running, opt for softer surfaces like dirt or grass rather than concrete which requires greater shock absorption on the foot and ankle, possibly leading to pain, stiffness, and swelling. Hills can also pose problems, especially on the way down as they place greater demands on the lower limb joints and the ankles, furthering the risk of injury.

RICE Method

If you do injure yourself, make sure you have familiarised yourself with the RICE method as your first resort: rest, ice, compression, and elevation. The RICE method is a simple technique that you can use at home to treat minor injuries, helping to reduce swelling, pain, and to aid recovery.

The RICE method includes the following four steps:

  1.   Rest:  Rest and protect the injured area as much as possible for the first two days, or you risk making the damage worse, delaying your recovery. Resting also prevents further swelling or bruising.
  2.   Ice:  Apply ice to the injured area until the swelling subsides.  Do not apply the ice directly to the skin, instead place a towel over the ice pack or use bags of frozen vegetables before touching the skin directly.
  3.   Compression: Wrap the injured area with an elastic bandage to provide support and reduce swelling.
  4.   Elevation: Keep the area raised above the level of your heart to reduce swelling.

The tips in this article can serve as essential tools for keeping your ankles and feet healthy and happy for years to come.

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Tips to Keep Your Feet and Ankles Injury-Free