Perhaps you’ve recently been inspired to get healthier and get moving more throughout the year. Or maybe you’ve already been moving for some time, and just keep setting new goals to push yourself further.
Whatever your reasons, exercise and sports are great ways to benefit your feet, ankles, and the rest of your body and mind! Building strength and endurance at your foundation can be a great way to maintain mobility in your later years, and keeping your circulation healthy is especially a boon to your feet, for which blood has the farthest journey to make.
With any form of activity, however, there comes the risk of a sports injury. You don’t have to be breaking tackles on a football field or running ultra-marathons to be in danger. A sports injury can happen to just about anyone under the wrong conditions, regardless of whether they are a pro or someone who just likes to get out on the weekends.
(In fact, the “weekend warrior” types can have a higher risk of potential problems!)
You can never fully eliminate the risk of a sports injury to your feet or ankles if you are physically active. Is that a good reason to stop, though? Most certainly not!
When it comes to exercise, the benefits far outweigh the risks—if you take the right approach to what you are doing. You can significantly reduce your risks of painful sports injuries through some easy tips.
First of all, though, let’s understand a bit more about how sports injuries happen.
Big Hits vs. Big Choices
When you hear the term “sports injury,” most people imagine a sudden force or impact of some sort: taking a big tackle, enduring a wrenching twist of the ankle, or simply falling flat on your face, for example.
The types of injuries that happen as a result of these misfortunes tend to be classified as “acute” injuries. Ankle sprains, standard fractures, and tendon tears are usually acute sports injuries.
Another type of sports injury can develop based on how hard you push yourself, though. This is referred to as an “overuse injury.”
An overuse injury is essentially your body’s way of telling you it is taking on much more stress or strain than it is conditioned to handle at the current time. This can happen relatively quickly—such as going all out in a run or game when your body isn’t ready for it. It can also happen over time—such as when a runner pounds the pavement every day and doesn’t give their body enough time for rest.
In both cases—whether suddenly or over a longer period—the body is taking on more force than it can withstand or has time to recover from. That can result in injuries like Achilles tendinitis and stress fractures, among others.
So what tips can we derive from this knowledge?
Easy Ways to Avoid Sports Injuries
You probably don’t have to make any huge, difficult changes to reduce your risk of a sports injury. Just make some considerate choices.
Push Your Limits Reasonably
Becoming stronger is all about straining your body, but there are boundaries to what your body can endure. Surpass those and your risk of getting hurt rises dramatically.
Be aware of your body’s current limits. You should increase them over time, but never go further than a 10% increase in intensity per week. That could mean 10% more distance, 10% more weight, or 10% more time, depending on what you’re doing.
That 10% is not mandatory; it is a ceiling amount. If you feel your body is not ready for 10% more, do not be afraid to dial it back a bit. It is always better to increase your gains slowly than to hit an injury that can suspend your workout for a few weeks or more.
Wear the Right Equipment
You should expect the shoes you wear to have an important effect on your foot and ankle health. Wear the right footwear for the job!
Different activities place different forces on the feet and ankles. Basketball and tennis, for example, have more focus on pivots and side-to-side movement than distance running. Shoes are designed for different activities by taking these factors into account and providing added support and stability where needed.
Wearing the right shoes helps you avoid injuries, but only if they are the right fit and not worn out to the point of uselessness. An associate at any sporting goods store can help you find the right footwear for your needs.
Warm Up and Cool Down
This should be done by everyone, but is especially important if you’re the “weekend warrior” type.
Warming up gives your body a chance to better acclimate to the stress you’re about to put it under. Just going out and starting without preparing is a ticket for pain, particularly if the pace picks up and you start playing harder than you expected.
A good warm-up usually takes only 5-10 minutes. In addition to stretching your muscles and soft tissues, you should also perform some dynamic movement. Some light jogging, butt-kicks, and other exercises that get you moving should suffice. We can help you determine the best moves for your routines.
After you’re done, take a few minutes to slow down and stretch again. Letting your body down gradually to a resting state is also good for it!
Get the Jump on Sports Injuries
Regardless of the steps you take to avoid an injury, one may still happen. That’s OK, but trying to ignore an injury you’ve suffered is not!
Treating your sports injury now and not waiting for it to go away on its own will not only help you get back to action faster, but also help prevent complications that can make you more susceptible to further injuries down the road.
We understand athletes’ ambitions, so we will always strive to get you back to full strength as quickly and safely as possible. Call our office at (989) 695-6788 or fill out our online contact form to schedule an appointment with us.