The cold weather is here to stay for a few months, and while that brings with it the opportunity for some fun seasonal activities, the winter weather can also be harsh on our feet. We don’t want you to spend your holidays in a walking boot or dealing with foot discomfort, so we want to use today’s blog to spotlight some of the ways winter can be hard on your feet and to share some tips for protecting your ankles and feet this winter.
Common Winter Foot Injuries
Every season brings with it its own unique challenges for our feet and ankles, but winter can be especially hard on your feet. Here’s a look at some of the more common injuries and conditions we see in our office during the winter months.
- High-Energy Injuries – Significant sprains and high energy fractures tend to be a little more common during the winter months. If you fall off a ladder while hanging Christmas lights or you slip and fall on an icy sidewalk, you can end up spraining your ankle or fracturing a bone in your feet.
- Athlete’s Foot – Athlete’s foot is a fungal condition that thrives in warm and moist conditions. You may not associate the winter season with the words “warm and moist,” but these are oftentimes the conditions our feet are exposed to when they are jammed in a boot. Heavy winter socks and a tight fitting boot can lead to warm and moist conditions where athlete’s foot prospers.
- Chilblains – Chilblains are areas of red, patchy and swollen skin that tend to develop as a result of exposure to colder temperatures and poor circulation. They aren’t all that serious of a foot condition, but they can make the holiday season a little more uncomfortable. Keeping your feet warm and staying active to help promote ideal circulation can help to prevent and treat chilblains.
- Diabetic Feet Issues – We also tend to see an uptick in patients seeking care for diabetic feet related issues during the winter months. Colder temperatures can keep people from being as active as they are during the summer, which can cause issues if they already have poor circulation. Holiday foods can also make it more difficult for diabetics to appropriately manage their blood sugar levels, further complicating foot problems.
- Achilles Tendonitis – Colder temperatures can make it a little more difficult for soft tissues like ligaments and tendons to function optimally. If your Achilles tendon is a little tighter as a result of colder temperatures, you may be more likely to develop microtears and inflammation during physical activity, leading to the onset of Achilles tendonitis.
Preventing Winter Foot Injuries
There’s no perfect playbook for preventing all winter foot and ankle injuries, but if you understand why many of them develop, you can take steps to avoid them. For example, wear winter boots with good traction and always watch your step when you’re walking on snow and ice. When it comes to an athlete’s foot, pack an extra pair of socks so that you’re not stuck in a wet pair if some snow gets in your boot, and be sure to store your footwear so that they can dry out if they are damp.
You’ll also want to make it a point to stay active this winter. Activity helps to strengthen your feet, improve circulation and keep soft tissue functioning as they should. Still aim for 30-45 minutes of moderate intensity activity a couple times a week, and be sure to stretch before your workout or before you go outside to shovel snow. Your muscles and joints may need more time to prepare for activity in the cold weather, so help them get ready for stress by stretching for a couple of minutes.
If you stay active and are mindful of potential sources of winter injuries, we’re confident that you can keep your feet injury-free this winter. If a problem develops or you need help overcoming a different foot issue, reach out Dr. McDonald and his team today at (860) 244-8889.