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Exercise is essential for good health, but it can certainly put a strain on certain parts of your body. You may be a seasoned athlete, or just beginning your workout journey. Whatever the case, you’re likely familiar with the aches and pains that come with pushing yourself physically. 

A lot of exercise involves running, walking, or jumping. Feet and ankles absorb a lot of the shock of this physical movement. They also bear the weight of your entire body. Because of this, it is fairly common to have sore or tired feet after a workout. It is common to want to exercise through soreness if you feel you can ignore it. However, when it comes to the complex network of muscles, tendons, ligaments, and bones that operate your feet and ankles, there’s a lot that can go wrong. Exercising through what may seem like a small pain may lead to worse, even permanent injuries later on. 

Without a professional opinion, it can be difficult to know how severe foot and ankle injuries are. This can also make it hard to know whether to push through it or not. Some injuries can be treated at home, and others require special treatment or physical therapy. It’s important to know what to look out for, and what preventative measures you can take to avoid any future injury.

Common Ankle Injuries

  • Achilles tendonitis – overuse of the Achilles tendon. This tendon connects the calf muscles to your heel bone. Achilles tendonitis can become severe if not provided proper rest.
  • Ankle sprain – by far the most common of the types of ankle injuries. Ankle sprains can be mild to severe, and they are caused by injuring the ligaments on the side of the ankle.
  • Stress fracture – tiny cracks in the bone that develop over time from repeated impact. This type of ankle injury can happen to anyone, but it’s most common with runners who frequent hard surfaces.

preventing foot and ankle injuries

Common Foot Injuries

  • Plantar fasciitis – one of the most common foot injuries, a result of inflammation of the band of tissue that runs along the bottom of the foot. Usually pain from this is felt in the inner edge of the heel. This injury is common among physical activity that involves hitting the ground frequently.
  • Turf toe – hyperextension of the toe, primarily an issue for those that play football or run track. Turf toe can cause swelling, pain, and can even limit foot movement.
  • Bunions – a bump that forms on the joint at the bottom of your big toe. Usually a result of frequently wearing improper footwear that forces the front of your foot to move out of place. Out of all the foot injury types, this is one of the less severe. 

Common Causes

So what are some common causes of exercise-related injuries?

“Walk it off” is something you hear a lot in sports, but it is very bad advice when it comes to the science of exercise.  The most common cause of exercise related injury is overuse/overtraining. If you are not taking breaks or resting adequately, your body will start to show it. A ‘break’ doesn’t always mean you need to completely stop exercising. There are a number of cross training or alternate exercises that can get your heart pumping without adding on to any injuries to the foot or ankle.

Preventative Measures for Foot and Ankle Injuries

You can prevent a lot of types of foot injuries and ankle injuries by wearing proper footwear. Wearing a shoe that is incompatible with the way you move is one of the causes of common running foot injuries, such as Achilles tendonitis and plantar fasciitis. 

Many exercise related injuries can be prevented by preparing your entire body for the exercise. If you’re planning to make exercise a regular thing, always make sure you’re warming up and stretching properly. There are a number of injury prevention exercises and warm ups to ready your body for rigorous activity.

Author Dr. Rand

Dr. McClain has dedicated over 35 years of his personal and professional life studying nutrition, exercise, herbs and supplements and is also a Master of Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine.

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