Athletes rely on quick movements and explosive cuts in order to be successful at their craft, and an injury to their feet or ankles can certainly slow them down. When an injury to the lower body develops, it’s imperative that athletes work hard to fully recover from their injury so that they can restore confidence in their ability to move as needed during their sport. But how can an athlete work to restore confidence in their feet and ankles after an injury or surgery? We share some tips for regaining confidence in your feet after an injury in today’s blog.
Getting Back To Full Ankle Strength After An Injury
If you want to help your ankle return to a pre-injury level of fitness, you’d be wise to keep these tips in mind:
- Connect with a Specialist – Don’t get us wrong, there is plenty of good advice out there on the Internet, but your injury and your athletic goals are unique, so don’t assume that any old rehabilitation plan that you find online will work perfectly for you. Instead, connect with a specialist who can provide you with an accurate diagnosis and set you up with a recovery plan tailored to your specific needs and goals. If you want to make the strongest recovery, you need to connect with a professional.
- Stick To Your Rehab Plan – This may sound obvious, but you’d be surprised at how quickly patients abandon their physical therapy routine once they start to make some progress. You don’t just want to get back to “good enough,” you want to get back to a pre-injury level of fitness or even come back stronger than you were before, and that will only happen if you stick with the rehab program. Always do all of your therapy exercises and stay within the restrictions put in place by your care team.
- Balance And Proprioception Training – If you haven’t been able to be as active as you normally were as a result of your injury, there’s a possibility that your balance and proprioception (your ability to recognize your body’s position relative to the space around it) have decreased. Muscles and soft tissues that help to support your feet may have weakened due to limited use, and while that’s not to say that you’ll all of a sudden lose your balance when walking, this slight weakness can be noticeable if you’re trying to compete at the highest levels. Your doctor or your physical therapist can set you up with some therapy exercises or one legged balance training maneuvers to improve your balance, your proprioception and your confidence in your ankle.
- Take Things Slow – One of the biggest challenges that athletes oftentimes face when trying to overcome a foot injury is that they try to rush back. We understand that you have the urge to compete and you want to get back to be there for your teammates, but problems can occur if you rush back. Not only will you likely be lacking confidence in your ankle because it hasn’t been fully strengthened, but you’re also at a heightened risk for aggravation due to this weakness. Again, stick to your rehab plan and only adjust your return to sport timeline with approval from your foot specialist.
- Sport Specific Training – Finally, when you get close to returning to athletics, it’s important to incorporate some movements that you’ll perform during your sport in your therapy sessions. Your foot specialist, a physical therapist or an athletic trainer can help you find some exercises that mimic some of the stresses that you’ll experience once you return to the court or the field. There’s nothing that perfectly simulates the motions you’ll endure during a game, but if you focus on some sport-specific exercises prior to your return, you’ll have more confidence that your ankles and feet can handle the stress you’ll soon throw at it.
If you want help overcoming a foot injury and returning to a high level of athletics, trust your care to Dr. McDonald and his team. For more information, or to set up an appointment with his office, give Dr. McDonald a call today at (860) 244-8889.