Winter in the northeast can be cold and unyielding, but that doesn’t stop many people from throwing on their winter gear and partaking in some athletics made possible by the seasonal elements. Skiing, snowboarding, skating and sledding are just a few of the more popular winter activities that we love this time of year, but these sports also lead to a fair amount of foot and ankle injuries.
We can’t prevent every single winter sports injury, but if you approach these seasonal activities with the right mindset, you can greatly reduce your risk of a sprain or a fracture. In today’s blog, we share some tips for preventing foot and ankle injuries from winter athletics.
Protecting Your Feet During Winter Athletics
If you plan on skating or skiing this winter, keep these tips in mind so that you can help protect your feet against injury.
- Start Slow – You may be itching to get out and play pond hockey once the ice freezes, but temper your expectations and your ice time. If you haven’t skated much during the summer or fall, the first time back in skates will be a real workout for your ankles and the ligaments that support them. To avoid your risk of an overuse injury, gradually increase the amount of time you spend in your skates until it’s clear that your ankles can handle the stress you’re putting on them.
- Secure Fit – Make sure that your winter gear fits appropriately. If your ice skates are too big, they won’t provide extra support to your ankle ligaments, and that can put you at risk for an injury. If your ski boots are too tight, you may end up cutting off circulation to your feet and damaging them in other ways. Check to see if last year’s equipment still fits, or if you rent gear, have an employee help fit your gear so that you know you have the right size.
- Stay Within Your Limits – You may have worked your way up to a double black diamond ski hill by the end of last year, but don’t assume you’ll pick back up right where you left off. Stay within your limits on the ski hill and only take on more challenging runs if the weather conditions are ideal.
- Keep Your Head On A Swivel – You may be the best skater or skier in the world, but that doesn’t mean those around you have the same skill or awareness. Always be mindful of people in front of you or off to your side, and try not to make any unexpected maneuvers that could lead to a collision. You can’t control the actions of others, but if you are aware of their presence, you may be able to avoid an accident.
- Strength Training – If you plan on throwing some intense stress on your feet and ankles this winter, it’s a good idea to start training for this new stress ahead of time. Do some strength training or range of motion exercises to help your ankles become stronger, more flexible and better able to handle the pressure they will soon be under.
- Stop Small Problems – Finally, if you develop a new foot injury as a result of winter athletics, be proactive in treating it. If you keep going about your day like normal, it may take longer to heal or you may be at risk of making the injury worse by continuing to stress the area. Whether you opt for professional treatment or you decide to treat the issue on your own, be proactive in your care and don’t let a small injury snowball into a major problem this winter.
And if despite your best efforts, you suffer a foot or ankle injury this winter, we hope that you’ll turn to Dr. McDonald and his team for care. For more information, reach out to Dr. McDonald’s clinic today at (860) 244-8889.