Preventing Injury for Athletes

General measures to prevent injury to the ankle and foot:

  • Avoid contact sports when you're at higher risk for injruy, for example just after an ankle sprain
  • Maintain an appropriate level of fitness
  • Wear well-fitting shoes that are in good condition
  • Avoid fatigue - when tired by exercise, your running patterns change, shifting the way you distribute weight. It's very important you avoid fatigue by:
    • Staying hydrated
    • Getting enough carbohydrates - eat before (breakfast) and after exericse
    • Maintaining muscle glycogen stores - this maintains muscle tone during exercise & thereby protects joint stability,
  • Key nutrients for athletes:
    • Iron - athletes, especially female athletes, may be relatively iron deficient. Eating red meat, iron-fortifed meals or taking iron supplements can help boost iron levels.
  • Bone health
    • Calcium - Dairy, even low-fat dairy and calcium enriched foods can be a great source of calcium.
    • We absorb vitamin D from sunlight.
    • Maintaining fat stores and consuming enough carbohydrates are also necessary for bone health

Preventing Ankle Sprains

If you have weak ankles (you've had sprains in the past or are aware of looseness or instability) you can consider taping or wearing braces during sports and running. There are a number of orthotics available that support the ankle and arches of the foot and have been shown to reduce the risk of sprains (especially semi-rigid orthoses).

Pre-season training for your ankles:

  • Proprioception & balance - exercises to enhance prorprioception and balance include standing on a wobble board.
  • Strengthening the muscles in the calf and lower leg - performing heel raises (balancing on the toes and lifting weight up and down)
  • Jumping and landing exercises.

 

Preventing Injury in the Foot

  • Avoid sudden increases in duration or frequency of training. Similarly avoid over-training.
  • Wear supportive shoes - in particular, the sole of the foot needs to be well cushioned and have adequate shock-absorbing capacity.
  • Avoid shoes that slip around the heel.

 

References

Joyce, D., Chapter 22 - Ankle Complex Injuries in Sport in 'Sports Rehabilitation and Injury Prevention', Comfort, P., Abrahamson, E., (Eds), Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford, UK, 2010, pp 475-481.

Matthews, H., Matthews, M., Nutritonal Considerations for Performance and Rehabilitation in 'Sports Rehabilitation and Injury Prevention', Comfort, P., Abrahamson, E., (Eds), Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford, UK, 2010, pp 264-267.

Thacker, S., B, 'The Prevention of Ankle Sprains in Sports: A Systematic Review of the Literature', American Journal of Sports Medicine, Vol. 27, No. 6, Nov 1999, pp. 753-760.

Yeung, E. W., Yeung, S. S., 'A systematic review of interventions to prevent lower limb soft tissue running injuries', British Journal of Sports Medicine, Vol. 35, 2001, pp 383-389.