Summer has finally arrived, and that means lots of fun in the sun: hiking, running, beach walks, outdoor sports, and so much more. Of course, the last thing you’d want to do at the start of the season is bench yourself with an ankle injury! While a twisted ankle may heal on its own with a little rest, a sprained ankle is much more serious. Luckily, with a bit of preparation, you can set yourself up for success and keep those ankles strong.
Easing Back In
It may have been a while since the last time you got out there on the asphalt, whether you’re playing sports like tennis or just trading in the treadmill for the great outdoors. If you haven’t been out on uneven hiking trails in a while or have just been on a seasonal hiatus from outdoor activities, make sure to ease back in to recondition yourself. Start slow and work your way back up to a higher intensity over time.
Choosing the Right Shoes
One of the first things we reach for in warmer weather is a pair of flip-flops—after all, Alabama summers are hot! However, flip-flops can be one of the least supportive footwear options out there. Though you may not always consider your ankles when you’re choosing shoes, think back to leaving the beach or pool and twisting around in slick, low-quality sandals—the wrong pair can quickly lead to problems.
Good arch support and insole cushioning go a long way towards ankle health, so go the extra mile and treat yourself to some high-quality sandals, preferably with straps that hold your foot in place. If you know you’ll be taking a longer walk, think ahead and wear your sneakers instead. And, as always, make sure that your sneakers, cleats, and hiking boots are properly fitted, using orthotics if necessary.
Calling in Backup
If you’ve had an ankle injury in the past, you’re more vulnerable to future aches, pains, and sprains. So when you’re ready to go back out and enjoy your favorite summer activities, bring along some added support.
When participating in higher impact activities, consider wearing a brace. Neoprene braces are flexible and allow a close fit to the body, while fabric braces are more breathable and may be cooler for all-day wear on hot days. You can also choose between sleeves, supports with straps, and lace-up braces, depending on the level of support and flexibility you need.
If the injury you suffered was mild, you may also consider kinesiology athletic tape for stability and gentle compression. This kind of tape can provide support without limiting movement, mitigating mild pain and swelling.
What to Do if You Are Injured
You may wonder after an injury whether it’s serious enough to warrant medical attention. The first signs of a sprained ankle are immediate pain, bruising, and swelling, and you may not be able to put weight on your foot. An untreated sprain can worsen and weaken your ankle long-term, so it’s always best to err on the side of caution, especially if you experience swelling that doesn’t resolve after a couple of days or pain that persists longer than a week. Call a specialist at OrthoSports Associates for a full examination and treatment plan.
While you’re waiting for your visit, use the “RICE” method: Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation. Rest by keeping your weight off the affected ankle and use an ice pack for ten minutes at a time each hour as needed. Compress your ankle with a wrap such as an ACE bandage and elevate it for several hours a day to keep bruising and swelling to a minimum.
Let the Games Begin
We know you’re itching to get back out there and jump in to all the exciting activities that summer has in store. If ankle pain is keeping you from enjoying your favorite recreation, make an appointment with OrthoSports Associates today!