When it comes to thinking about foot and ankle issues, the science can be a bit overwhelming. Feet and ankles are complex body parts with numerous bones, joints, and muscles all working together (and hopefully in harmony). While procedures like tendon reconstruction, ankle fusion, and hammertoe correction should be left up to the professionals to figure out, there are several simple things that you can do to keep your feet and ankles in great shape. Here are four suggestions, all of which can be done quite easily, whether you are a famous athlete or just an average New Yorker.
Get the right gear
Consider your full range of daily activities. When you are working out, running errands, or sitting around your office all day, what you have on your feet matters. Invest in tennis shoes with arches that match your body, choose casual shoes that leave plenty of room for your toes to spread, and avoid sky-high heels outside of special nights out and formal occasions. Accessories like properly snug socks, braces, and supportive inserts can also be a great choice to keep your feet and ankles happy.
Shed some pounds
While this one is admittedly not as simple (or fun) as going shopping for the right equipment, the results are well worth the work. If you are carrying more weight than you should by way of your body, your ankles and feet are bearing it. Dropping those extra pounds can help you feel more confident, and it will also lessen the load on your lower limbs. Talk to your primary care physician, a weight loss specialist, or a personal trainer to help plan a fitness program that fits your wants and needs. Your feet and ankles will thank you when they have less of you to support.
Don’t overdo it
We get it. You’re in the middle of an intense workout, about to hit a running milestone, or one tough play away from winning the big game. Sometimes, it’s hard or just plain impossible to stop what you are doing and give your feet and ankles a well-deserved break. Still, you should be mindful that overworking them can have major consequences in the long run. Carve out time to stretch before and after exercise and other high-intensity activities, and remember to take days off from your routines. Rest days are essential for your well-being, and they can even prevent you from having tears and sprains.
Don’t put off appointments
Many of my patients think that they are too busy to come in and have a sore foot or ankle looked at. Sometimes they have convinced themselves that they will simply find a solution to a condition by ignoring it or treating it at home. Although the R.I.C.E. method is a solid start, it’s not always the perfect answer. Dealing with a foot or ankle injury is not very fun, but putting off a visit to the doctor can often make a situation worse than it needs to be. Come in and we can discuss both your foot and ankle problems and ways to address them. While a serious condition might require a surgical procedure, catching a small problem early might help you avoid having a one at all.