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Prevent Ankle Injuries: Helpful Tips and Simple Steps

Prevent Ankle Injuries: Helpful Tips and Simple Steps
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Whether your plans for an active summer include hiking, biking, running or beach strolling, you’ll need healthy ankles to enjoy them, and injuries to the bones and soft tissues of the ankle joint can interfere. Step up for your health and keep summer fun on track by following tips to prevent ankle injuries.

Want to Prevent Ankle Injuries? Start by Reducing Your Risk for Sprains

Any discussion of preventing foot and ankle injuries has to start with avoiding sprains. A common sports injury, especially for runners, sprains occur when ankle ligaments stretch too far. Overstretching these tissues, which link bones to each other, can cause them to tear. This can lead to ankle pain, swelling and reduced range of motion.

One of the best ways to prevent ankle sprains is to warm up before physical activity. Move your ankles in circles and flex the joints to get them ready for action.

Use these additional tips to prevent sprained ankles:

  • Exercise for better strength and balance. Reduce your risk of sprained ankles by performing strengthening exercises, such as standing on one leg at a time while holding the back of a chair. These exercises can also improve your balance.
  • Match your shoes to your activity. Only hike in hiking boots, which provide more ankle support than athletic shoes. For running, basketball or other sports, choose a sport-specific shoe that offers adequate ankle support for the activity. Never run or hike in flip flops, which don’t protect the ankles (or the toes).
  • Stay on the level. Walking or running on even surfaces reduces your risk of spraining an ankle.

Need extra support? Tape your ankle or wear a brace.

Prevent Ankle Injuries With Consistent, Varied Exercise

Do you spend weekdays working at a desk and weekends exercising or playing sports? You could be headed for a stress fracture – a small crack in a bone that can develop when you ramp up your activity level too quickly.

Common in the feet and ankles, stress fractures can be painful, especially when you’re active. To prevent these ankle injuries, give up your weekend warrior ways. Exercise consistently throughout the week instead of only on weekends. Increase your activity level slowly, not suddenly – the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons recommends increasing by 10% per week.

Following other sports injury prevention tips may help you avoid stress fractures. You can reduce your risk by participating in different types of physical activity to give your ankles a break. Instead of running daily, swim laps at the gym a couple days each week, which is easier on your ankles.

Take Care of Your Tendons

Being a weekend warrior doesn’t just raise your risk of stress fractures. It also increases your chances of Achilles tendonitis, which is inflammation of the tendon that extends from the calf muscle to the heel bone. This can cause pain at the back of the lower leg.

Taking steps to prevent other ankle injuries, including sprains and stress fractures, can also help you avoid Achilles tendonitis. Warming up before activity, wearing well-fitting, sport-specific shoes and slowly increasing your activity level help protect your tendons.

Worried an ankle injury will spoil your summer? Make an appointment with Union Health Orthopedics to get on the path to healing.

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