Spring has officially arrived! Say goodbye to bulky sweaters and chilly New York nights and hello to blooming flowers, chirping birds, and sunny skies! This is the season of change and fresh starts, and it’s beloved by many. But spring also brings an influx of injuries to our clinic. Each year, we see athletes of all ages who have jumped back into their favorite spring sports and managed to hurt their feet or ankles along the way. Thankfully, some of these injuries can be prevented with simple steps, meaning you don’t have to sacrifice your favorite activities or miss out on the warm weather for the sake of your feet and ankles. Read on for some tips to keep moving in a healthy manner this season.
Get the right equipment
It’s important that the gear you use fits your ankles and feet properly. If your feet are still growing, the shoes you wore last spring might not fit anymore. Likewise, if you use any ankle supports or shoe inserts, you should confirm that they are still the appropriate type for your needs. Gear that is too tight or too loose can lead to conditions like bunions and hammertoes.
Ease back into the routine
It can be tempting to jump back into your favorite sport with the same effort and tenacity that you did at the end of the season. Resist this. Instead, gradually work up to where you left off to avoid tendon and ligament issues. Even if you’ve maintained a similar workout routine over the winter, you should still be mindful that the activities become a little bit different as the seasons change. Be mindful, for example, that switching from a treadmill to outdoor running or from an indoor turf field to real grass introduces your feet and ankles to a different environment that might not be so forgiving on your body. And don’t forget to stretch! Your body needs it both before and after your workout.
Don’t put off a procedure
Foot and ankle injuries don’t usually just happen all at once. Often, they are the result of years of overuse or long-ignored conditions. Sometimes, a patient will receive a recommendation for a procedure at the end of a season, but decided to “wait it out” with rest and see if gets better on its own. An injury might even start to feel better, but the feeling probably won’t last long. Jumping back into an athletic routine can bring these issues back into light and cause more problems then there were to begin with. If you’re one of these surgical procrastinators, it would be wise to come in for another evaluation and to undergo a procedure before starting up your sport again. While it may seem daunting, depending on the surgery and your willingness to stick to a rehabilitation plan, you could be back to your normal self and doing the activities that you love in just a few months.