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Great Ideas for Foot and Lower Leg health

Life is full of opportunities that we want to grab with both hands. However a moments though on how best to protect and look after our feet and lower legs and could pay dividends in the future. Here are many great ideas that just may keep you on your feet .

Ankle SprainsAnkle sprains are one of the most common injuries sustained by avid sports people. Whether you are a professional athlete or just a “weekend warrior” you can probably recall a time you sprained or twisted your ankle participating in your favourite sport. The foot and ankle not only play a vital role in absorbing shock but are super important for providing stability when walking and running. Here are some quick tips on how you can prevent an ankle injury this netball season. 

Balance:

Improving your balance is an easy way for you to improve proprioception and enhance your body’s ability to control itself in a variety of positions. Standing on one foot with your knee slightly bent for 20-30 seconds is one way to not only strengthen your ankle but also promotes the activation of other lower leg muscles. You can easily slot this into daily activities i.e. when brushing your teeth. As you become stronger you can then progress to closed eyes or standing on a pillow.

Strength:

Most people with instability through the foot and ankle have an element of weakness surrounding the ankle joint. Weak ankle muscles increase your risk of instability and an ankle sprains. Calf raises are a great way to help strengthen your calf, Achilles and improve ankle stability. With your feet about hip-width apart, shift your weight onto your toes and slowly lift your heels off the ground; aim for 3 sets of 10.

Range of Motion:

Promoting good range and movement through your ankle helps reduce stiffness. Two easy exercises that can help with this are “ankle circles” and “ankle alphabet”. Sit on the ground with your legs out in front, bend your knees and cross one leg on top of the other knee so your ankle is raised off the ground. Now perform 15 slow circles on the raised ankle making sure to go clockwise and counter clockwise to achieve the most benefit. The “ankle alphabet” is very similar but in place of circles, try to spell out the alphabet using your foot.

Taping and Bracing:

The debate about whether taping or bracing your ankles prevents ankle injuries has been going on for years. What we know is that these techniques can work well for many people with no real negative side effects. Although it may feel a little stiff while the tape is in place, it is something that can feel secure, stable and can therefore give you a little more confidence while running around.

Footwear:

Make sure you have the right shoe for the activity you are doing. You wouldn’t wear a pair of football boots on a netball court would you? So why do we limit our ability to perform and reduce our risk of injury by using footwear designed for other sports when performing our desired sport? Netballers should invest in a netball shoe, even if you are just a social netballer. A netball shoe is specifically designed to sit you lower to the ground, lowering your centre of gravity and reducing instability. They also have mid and outer sole features designed to adapt to a change of direction and provide more stability along the lateral or outside of your foot which can prevent lateral ankle sprains. You should always look to have your footwear fitted by a professional.

I can’t guarantee that you’ll never sprain an ankle but working on these 5 areas will minimise your risk of ankle sprain injuries and keep you moving well.

Our aim when playing sport is to have fun and enjoy yourself and getting injured is definitely no fun! A bonus tip for all sports people, amateur and professional alike, is to do a proper warm up and cool down. Tightness and poor flexibility along the main muscles in the lower back, hips and legs can often lead to awkward movements which can increase your risk injury. Dynamic warm up exercises work well to get your body warm and ready for sport. Knee ups, butt kicks and leg swings are all dynamic movements that will get some of these muscle groups moving and ready for activity. Regardless of your level of competition, stretching and cool down needs to be a part of your sport routine. Cooling down without the appropriate stretching will cause some muscle groups to tighten and increase your risk of post sport pain and injury. Stretching each of the main groups, arms, back, glutes, quads, hamstrings and calves will help you prevent injury this season.

Make sure you look after yourself this netball season!

Get back on your feet sooner with Walk On Podiatry!