Four ways to prevent foot and ankle injuries

Pain in your ankles and in other areas of the foot can happen during any stage of life. From infants to mature adults, everyone can experience foot pain, especially after an acute injury or years of stress and strain. Foot and ankle injuries can cause symptoms ranging from a painful instep to toe pain.

While foot and ankle injuries are unique, they all have one thing in common: They can disrupt your family’s daily life. Luckily, these painful injuries are often preventable. Below are four things you and your loved ones can do to prevent pain in your ankles or feet from happening.

Wear the right shoes

Perhaps one of the best ways to prevent foot injuries and ankle pain is to wear the right shoes. Shoes that are ill-fitting or not right for an activity can cause your feet and toes pain. Without the proper support, you can also experience a painful instep, discomfort in your legs, and pain in the ankles.

Finding supportive shoes

So what does it mean to wear the right shoe? Anytime you’re on your feet, the shoes you’re wearing should be

  • Correct for the activity
  • The right size
  • Supportive in the right areas for you

Finding shoes made for the activity you’re doing is usually pretty intuitive. For example, kids should wear cleats for soccer practice, and hikers should wear hiking boots when they hit the trail. To ensure your family’s shoes fit properly, consider getting everyone’s feet measured by a professional.

Finding shoes or custom orthotics that support your unique feet can be slightly more complicated. First, you have to think about what makes your feet different. Where do you need more support than most? Then, find shoes that support those areas. For example, if you have flat feet, you should look for additional arch support shoes to avoid a painful instep.

Always stretch before exercise

Stretching is an integral part of preventing injury, especially those that cause pain in the ankles or feet. One of the most common causes of ankle sprains and Achilles tendon injuries is simply not stretching.

Generally, dynamic stretching is more effective than static stretching. Dynamic stretching incorporates movement into the stretch. That can be a slight bounce or warm-up exercises such as walking. However, if you can only do static stretches, that’s much better than not stretching at all.

Stretching to prevent foot and ankle injuries

Many kinds of stretches can help warm up the muscles and tendons in your feet and ankles:

  • Heel lift: Place your hands against a countertop or wall. Back your feet far enough away to lean on, and keep your hands on the surface. Lift one heel off the ground, put it back down, and switch. Repeat this movement at a quick but controlled pace. If this causes any pain, modify it by standing closer to the wall or countertop.
  • Raise, point, and curl: Sit in a chair with your feet flat on the floor. Then flex your toes so that they come off the floor and toward you. Hold for five seconds. Next, raise your heels slightly and point your toes so that the tips touch the floor. Hold for five seconds. Finally, raise the heel all the way and curl your toes as far as they go. Hold for five seconds, then repeat all three movements.
  • Toe extensions: Sit in a chair with your feet on the floor. Fold one leg so that that ankle is on top of your other thigh. Grab all your toes and gently pull them back toward the tops of the feet. Hold for five seconds, release, and repeat.

If any of these stretches cause pain, gently release the stretch and make an appointment with a podiatrist. These stretches are just some that can help prevent a painful instep, pain in the ankle, and more.

Nourish your bones

While stretching can help keep your muscles healthy, it’s not all that goes into preventing injury. Around the world, there are about 178 million bone fractures every year. Building your bone health can help prevent fractures. After about age 35, this is particularly important because bones naturally start to lose density.

How to build healthy bones

Improving your bone health is all about improving bone density. Here are some important steps you can take to increase bone density:

  • Get plenty of vitamin D and calcium in your diet.
  • Do weight-bearing exercise—even bodyweight exercises count.
  • Talk to your doctor about medication, if needed.

These steps can prevent excruciating pain in your ankles or feet and a lengthy recovery.

Get a checkup early and often

The feet and ankles are complex parts of the body. As such, it’s vital to get expert advice whenever you suspect something may be wrong. If you feel foot or ankle pain that is extreme or doesn’t go away with rest, make an appointment with a podiatrist. Proper treatment can prevent further injury and give you the best chance for non-invasive treatment.

Arizona Foot Doctors is proud to serve families in the Scottsdale area. We prioritize preventative care to keep you healthy on your feet. If something goes wrong, we try gentle treatments when possible to keep you and your family from unnecessary surgery. Contact us today to set up an appointment.