Don’t Let Foot and Ankle Injuries Hold You Back This Fall (or Beyond)
Fall in the Magic Valley is the perfect season to gear up and go do some fun athletic activities.
Whether you’re a student athlete returning from summer, an adult looking for some low-stakes fun, a “weekend warrior” saving everything for the field after the work week is over, or an outdoor enthusiast looking to squeeze in some hiking or trail running before winter, the season is calling!
Of course, whenever we see an increase in activity in the community, we also tend to see an increase in sports-related foot and ankle injuries.
To some degree that’s to be expected, of course—if you want to be healthy and active, you have to accept some risk.
But far too often, we see patients who come in with a foot or ankle injury that probably could have, and should have, been prevented. Or, even worse, they chose not to seek treatment right away for their injury and ended up turning what could have been a quick, easy recovery into a much more difficult situation.
So, we encourage you to take a comprehensive approach to foot and ankle injuries this fall as you get your feet moving. And it looks something like this:
- Take smart, reasonable steps to minimize your risk of hurting your feet or ankles in the first place.
- If you do get hurt, seek out treatment from our team promptly.
- After treatment for the initial injury, take steps to keep it from happening again.
Maybe you’ve never suffered a serious foot or ankle injury before. If so, good for you! Just don’t think that it means you’re invincible. You still should protect yourself before and while you play.
Here are few important steps you should take:
- Pre-season physical. If you’re planning to play on a competitive team—say for your school—you should get a physical examination several weeks before the season starts. Your physician can identify potential risk factors and provide personalized recommendations.
- Select shoes with care. Your shoes should fit properly, be in good shape (not worn out), and be appropriate for the sport or activity that you play. Choosing sport-specific shoes won’t just benefit your performance, but can also protect you from injury. We cover a lot more information on this topic, including tips and advice for shoe shopping, in one of our recent blogs.
- Build gradually. Whenever starting a new sport or exercise plan, it’s important to avoid doing too much, too soon. You need to condition your body gradually to handle greater (and different kinds of) stresses. Start your training early and slowly, increasing the intensity by about 10-15 percent each week until you reach game shape.
- Always warm up and cool down. 5-10 minutes of light cardio and stretching before a workout helps warm up your body for more intense activity. You can increase your heart rate slowly and get your muscles ready to perform in a safe and controlled environment. Don’t forget to cool down, afterward, too—it helps flush toxins, prevent blood from pooling, and reduce cramping and stiffness after exercise.
As we mentioned earlier, one of the biggest mistakes athletes make is not stopping soon enough after an injury and seeking out the treatment they need.
You may have been taught that there’s no gain without pain, or that chronic pain can be “walked off.” While it’s true that minor aches come with the territory, actual pain that inhibits your movements or otherwise makes you miserable needs to be addressed. Pain is never normal—it’s a signal that something is wrong, and that something will only get worse unless you do something about it.
Fortunately, at Canyon Foot & Ankle we have a lot of treatment options to help our athletes get back on the field, trail, or bike with a minimum amount of downtime. In addition to more traditional forms of treatment, such as stretching and physical therapy, this might include more advanced options like laser therapy.
This is an incredible technology, developed over decades and cleared by the FDA, that reduces pain and inflammation and stimulates your body’s natural healing and repair mechanisms to dramatically reduce recovery and rehab time after an injury. For more, check out our recent blog, Does MLS Laser Therapy Hurt? … and 5 Other “Burning” Questions. (Spoiler alert: it doesn’t.)
Bottom line, we’ll do everything in our power to help you, with state-of-the-art treatments tailored to fit your unique needs and meet your timeline as closely as possible.
Now, we can’t promise you’ll never hurt yourself again after an injury. But when we see you, examine your feet, talk to you about your condition, and prescribe treatments, we’ll also be carefully evaluating some of the underlying risk factors and determining how we might be able to help you address and manage them.
This is an important step, since many injuries tend to recur if you don’t give them the time they need to heal, or you don’t alter the underlying conditions that caused them in the first place! (Ankle sprains are notorious for this—and the end result is that you may wind up with a joint that is arthritic and chronically unstable.)
This post-injury preventative care may take different forms depending on your situation, but one common option is the use of custom orthotics. You might be surprised to learn that fundamental imbalances in foot structure are among the most common underlying causes of foot pain and injuries—and orthotics are great at helping support, cushion, and reposition those feet so that they can function their best without pain.
We strongly believe that orthotics should fit your lifestyle, rather than you having to change your lifestyle to accommodate them. And the type of orthotics we often prescribe—made from thin, lightweight, rigid-yet-flexible graphite—are often a great choice for those with active lifestyles.
Don’t let the fall sports season be filled with pain! If you’re hurting, don’t wait for the problem to get worse. Instead, give us a call. We have two convenient locations to serve you:
- Twin Falls: (208) 733-0436
- Burley: (208) 678-2727