Foot and ankle injuries fell thousands of athletes every day, but not all of these injuries occur during the season. For some, an offseason ankle injury leads to midseason discomfort or even missed games due to the need for a surgical procedure. While these offseason foot and ankle injuries are less common, you still want to be cognizant of some of the ways you can protect these areas during the offseason. In today’s blog, we share some tips for preventing foot and ankle injuries during your sport’s offseason.
Avoiding Offseason Ankle Injuries
There’s no perfect formula for avoiding all offseason foot and ankle injuries, but if you take a few specific steps, you can greatly reduce your risk of a setback during the offseason. Here’s what you’ll want to do:
- Give Your Feet A Break – Now more than ever, it seems like kids are playing sports year round, and oftentimes they are playing the same sport all year. It’s important that you give your feet and your whole body a break from the stresses of the season. Even the professionals take some time off after the season is over, and you should too. Overstress and repetitive strain injuries are common reasons for foot injuries to develop, and you’re at risk for these injuries if you don’t give your feet a break during the offseason.
- Cross Train – Despite what we just said, we don’t want you to sit on the couch until the new season rolls around. However, instead of diving into some sport-specific exercises that can once again increase your risk of overstress injuries, consider doing some cross training exercises that work to develop areas of your body that aren’t typically challenged during the season. Runners can focus on their core instead of their lower body, while baseball players can work on developing their hips instead of their arms. Cross training exercises help to keep muscle groups developing evenly and can ensure that you stay active without overloading areas like your feet, which may handle a lot of stress during the season.
- Consider Ditching The Ankle Brace – If you’re one of the many athletes that wears a protective ankle brace during practices and games, consider ditching it during your offseason training program. While it would be wise to have a conversation with your foot specialist or athletic trainer if you have a history of foot and ankle injuries, one study found that neuromuscular ankle training during the offseason without using a brace can significantly improve functional performance. If you’re doing some light or moderate exercise, your ankle may benefit from taking on these challenges without the additional support of a brace, but again this sentiment doesn’t apply unilaterally to all athletes.
- Prepare For The Season In Advance – Start doing some sport-specific exercises and training programs in the weeks leading up to the first day of practice or tryouts. Injuries tend to be more common early in the season when athletes are putting a bunch of new stress on an area that isn’t yet ready for this vast increase in activity. Gradually increase your sport-specific training so that you are ready to handle the rigors of two-a-days or tryouts without an increased risk of an ankle sprain.
- Consult With A Specialist – Finally, the offseason is the time to take care of any nagging injuries or chronic issues that developed during the season. Don’t just assume that time away from sport will heal all your issues. Instead, confront them head on by connecting with a foot and ankle specialist like Dr. McDonald. If your ankle has felt unstable for some time or shin splints became more recurrent during the season, talk with a foot specialist and let them figure out a treatment program that will put these issues to bed once and for all. Don’t be sidelined by an injury during the season because you didn’t take care of it during the offseason.
For more tips on how you can protect your feet and ankles from injury during the offseason, or to talk with a specialist about an issue you’re experiencing, reach out to Dr. McDonald and his team today at (860) 244-8889.