Tips for foot and ankle health

Foot and ankle protection is important—these body parts support all your weight when you’re standing, walking, running, moving and playing sports.

More people increase their outdoor activity as the warm weather returns, increase the activity of, and stress on, the foot and ankle. That makes spring the time to start thinking about how to protect your foot and ankle health in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Wear the right shoes

Don’t go out barefoot. To protect feet and ankles, wear shoes that fit in length and width. Wear shoes designed for the activity you’ll be doing. They should have adequate support in the front as well as under the arch, and the heel should be stable.

Wear hiking shoes or boots for rough, uneven ground in Utah’s spectacular natural areas. For construction work—even around the house or yard—wear steel-toed boots. Make sure the steel toe box is wide enough for your foot.

When your shoes wear out, replace them. Never do any sports or strenuous activity with damaged or worn-out footwear.

Make sure to break in the replacements. Running or hiking in new, stiff shoes can lead to blisters, ingrown toenails, corns and nerve inflammation. If you have a previous foot and ankle injury such as a sprain, reinforce it with a supportive brace.

Start slow

Before sports, warm up. Start with a slow jog for two or three minutes, then stretch. A good pre-running or pre-hiking warm-up should include a simple rising up onto your tiptoes, then lowering down again slowly. Rotating your foot to stretch ligaments and muscles in your foot and ankle is another excellent warm-up exercise.

Stretch your calf muscles and thighs, as well, before strenuous walking, hiking or running.

Try to avoid uneven terrain if possible—roads and groomed trails are safer and easier for your feet and ankles. Slopes in Utah are hard to avoid, but keep in mind running downhill is harder on your feet and ankles than going uphill, and it makes them more prone to injuries.

If you’re starting a new sport or activity such as trail running or hiking, start small. Gradually build up your exertion, distance traveled and duration. Starting at a high level increases your chance of foot and ankle injury.

You can strengthen the muscles that control the movement of your ankles and feet, too, which will help you avoid injury. Balance on one foot for longer periods each day; do squats and stretches regularly.

Stay dry

Keep your feet dry during your activity. Walking or running with wet feet can lead to blisters, athlete’s foot and other problems. Change your socks when they get sweat-soaked during extended hikes. Change your shoes if they get soaked through when you step in water.

No pain = no injury

If something hurts, stop. Foot and ankle pain is your body’s way of telling you something is wrong. Sucking it up or walking it off can make a minor injury worse.

Stop and rest. If the pain subsides, gently resume your activity. Increase your exertion gradually only if there is no more pain.

If you do have a foot or ankle injury, seek treatment immediately. The idea that you don’t need to treat a broken toe is a myth. For a sprain, take weight off the foot immediately. Elevate the foot and wrap it in ice as you travel for immediate treatment.

Seek care as soon as possible from a specialist in treatment of the foot and ankle in Salt Lake City Utah such as Heiden Davidson Orthopedics.

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