Wear and tear on our body is normal and is expected as we age, but for athletes, the process is often accelerated and can cause chronic pain or discomfort for the rest of their lives. If you’re constantly working out, playing high impact sports, or using your feet and ankles more than the average person per day, here is a list of things you should do to protect your feet and ankles as much as possible.

GUARDS (& BRACES): Use shin/ankle guards when you’re playing sports or ankle braces for extra support. This will help prevent any serious injury if you get kicked or prevent you from having a bad sprain. It is especially important when playing soccer to wear shin guards because your ankles are constantly at risk for getting bruised and injured. Repeat kicks that may not feel like terrible injuries at first can build up and cause chronic and painful issues later.

SHOES: There is a reason why each sport has a shoe designed specifically for it. Each sport strains your feet and ankles in a different way and each shoe is meant to protect you as best as possible based on the normal motions that you make. Football cleats are deep and allow you to get a good grip on the grass or Astroturf because you are juking and changing directions sharply and often. Golf cleats are shallower because you are not moving as aggressively and only need the shoes to keep your feet from slipping or sliding as you swing. Basketball shoes have high ankles for extra support when you’re jumping and running up and down the court and wide lips to help balance you upright when you’re quickly pivoting on the court.

TEND TO INJURIES: If you have any injuries, tend to them properly and give yourself the maximum time to heal. Going back into a high impact sport too soon after injury can cause your injury to get worse, not heal properly, or become a chronically painful problem. Your body can heal fairly well on its own as long as it is shown a lot of TLC.

CONDITIONING: Your feet and ankles perform their best if you condition and strengthen them with certain exercises. This is especially important if you have weak ankles to begin with and tend to trip or get sprains easily. Conditioning can help prevent any significant injuries from occurring by improving your balance and overall strength.

Dr. Kenneth R. Wilhelm of Clifton Foot & Ankle Center has been treating patients in the Centreville, VA area for more than seventeen years. If you have any questions call our office at 703-996-3000 or make an appointment here.

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